ABOUT THE DESIGNER
For Ho Tzu Yin, deputy managing director of LAUD Architects and lead designer on the DECK project, architecture is a lens through which one understands the wider world.
“Singapore, today, is truly at the crossroads of cultures, both east and west,” he says. “The mix of local cultures, living in a high density Asian city, the tropical climate, and having a Western architectural education allow us to create architecture that is truly unique to Singapore.”
This approach is especially evident in LAUD’s portfolio of churches, hotels, industrial buildings, condominiums, retail and office buildings that are located across the world from Hangzhou to Qatar. Light is always a consideration but its heat and glare are invariably filtered through strategically placed roofs, brises soleil, careful site orientation, and landscaping. Geometric and modular forms are favourite expressions, as are expansive volumes particularly in the firm’s designs for churches.
Good architecture, says Tzu Yin, must incorporate three aspects. First, it must appeal to the intellect by communicating to the visitor through a conscious understanding and interpretation of composite forms and volume. Secondly, it should fulfil its role as a social institution that supports the daily interactions of the occupants of the space. And lastly, it must offer a heightened sense of experience whereby a memorably designed space transcends the mundane quality of daily life.
When incorporated into a design, the cumulative effect of this philosophy is a sense of inclusion, of wanting to linger in a space to explore or, perhaps, to contemplate. Case in point is DECK which, since it opened, has energised the quiet stretch of Prinsep Street by attracting both visitors for events and curious neighbours.
A sense of community is important to Tzu Yin. It is a refrain that he is eager to project on to a larger stage, specifically Singapore’s design scene. “To push ourselves to the next level, we need more robust public discussion and critique on design. That, and a stronger sense of a design community that supports and gives feedback to one another.”
Of course, achieving this state is no easy task. There is a push and pull, between a predisposition to imitate other design traditions and a sense of place that grows with each graduating class of architects and designers.
Tzu Yin is, as always, charmingly optimistic. He believes the fundamentals are in place. “My generation of designers are equally comfortable assimilating what we need from the global modernist vocabulary while, at the same time, realising the importance of responding to the sense of the local.”
Advice to Emerging Designers:
“Always be curious about the world in general – its arts, culture, history, science and so on. How else can architects create good architecture if they are disengaged from life?”