You also led the DP team to win the PDA Design of the Year awards previously (for Republic Poly in 2009 and Sunray in 2015). How was that for you?
Winning the PDA Design of the Year for Republic Polytechnic – a collaboration with Fumihiko Maki – in 2009, and later for Sunray Woodcraft Headquarters in 2015 was a great honour. It is heart-warming to have the architectural fraternity recognise one’s work. More than the recognition itself, the true reward for me is working closely with creative minds to deliver good design that makes a positive difference. The creative process – research, sketching, brainstorming, even the design anxiety and finally the ‘A-hah!’ moment – is something that I enjoy tremendously. That said, the award is a validation of the team’s vision and the creative journey from concept realisation to project completion.
How did you decide that you would like to carve a career in design?
By the time I was 10, I knew I wanted to be an architect. I used to enjoy watching my uncle, a draftsman, draw with Rotring ink-pens, using t-ruler and various fascinating drawing tools. I found myself intrigued by the power of the line. How the line could represent walls, spaces – with everyone understanding what the line represents. At age 12, I was very fortunate that my parents entrusted the renovation of their house to me. They gave me the freedom to follow my creative curiosity, and that sparked my passion for architecture.
Could you share with us some of your professional experiences prior to joining DP Architects?
After graduating from Adelaide University in 1987, I joined Woods Bagot Architects’ Canberra Office. It was a small team of seven which meant that in addition to running projects, I was tasked to assist in the running of the office, such as buying wine and cheese on Friday evenings and maintaining the office materials library. I was also given the opportunity to work directly on four projects from start to finish. (These projects are The Embassy of Spain, 125 London Circuit, David Temple House and The National Surveyors Building.) As a young architect, it was a great privilege to be able to oversee these projects from every aspect of design to construction. I worked really hard – long, long days and weekends, and I seized every opportunity to learn – I gained so much experience in these three short years.
Could you share with us a few of your key projects? Why did they inspire you?
Wisma Atria is unique because I had the opportunity to re-design its façade twice in separate decades. I was able to reassess my design and address evolving human movement patterns. It was a retrospective into my design journey as it allowed me to investigate the urban relationship between architecture and end user.
For the first transformation of Wisma Atria in 2004, I designed a four-metre deep frame that extended the façade towards the promenade, with external escalators that connected the street with upper retail storeys. This facelift marked a shift from the internalised mall popular in the 1980s and 1990s to a street-integrated urban mall, and championed for street-integrated malls along the rest of Orchard Road. In 2012, I was given the opportunity to further explore the integration of public street space with private retail space with a second makeover of the mall. To increase street engagement, the new façade takes a crystalline form, built around the existing frame, which extends a further three metres from the former blue frame.
Because I find the creative process inspiring, every project that I work on stimulates me to come up with the best design solutions. I have two new hotel projects that will open later this year – Novotel Singapore and Mercure Singapore at Stevens Road (the previous Pinetree Club site), and Yotel along Orchard Road. For the former, our vision was to create an integrated and cohesive development to add both commercial and civic value to the urban fabric along Stevens Road. We designed a series of organic glass pods that provide intimate retail and dining experience, and adopted a green-wall approach with respect to the residential district the project is situated in. For the latter, we designed the building to further Yotel’s brand aesthetics, emphasising on simplicity and usability, with a gridded façade wrapped in textured glass.
Angelene prefers to be very hands on, seen here on site at Resorts World Sentosa