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Singapore Pavilion to present "to gather: The Architecture of Relationships" at Venice Biennale

Singapore Architecture News - Mar 29, 2021 - 14:49   5594 views

Singapore Pavilion to present

The organizers of Singapore Pavilion have announced theme and details for the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 which will be held from May 22 to November 21st, 2021. 

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) will jointly present "to gather: The Architecture of Relationships", as the theme of the Singapore Pavilion in response to the overarching theme of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Architecture Biennale - How Will We Live Together? by curator Hashim Sarkis. 

This marks the country’s seventh showcase at the International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Architecture Biennale since Singapore first took part in 2004.

The exhibition of the Singapore Pavilion, curated by the National University of Singapore (NUS), will profile local architects and design talents on an international stage through projects that explore and celebrate the different ways in which Singaporeans share public spaces. 

Singapore Pavilion to present

Common Ground. Image © Red Bean Architect

Drawing upon local spatial typologies, the exhibition will showcase everyday stories representing a broad cross-section of culture and society, and allow visitors to experience a uniquely Singaporean style of gathering and living together.

to gather will explore gatherings through Singapore’s urban context where the majority of the population lives in public housing and where designed spaces of different scales such as hawker centres1, community hubs, void decks2 and sky gardens meaningfully contribute to public social life.

Singapore Pavilion to present

HDB01. Image © Tomohisa Miyauchi

For the exhibition, 16 built and speculative architecture, art and design projects on gathering typologies unique to Singapore have been selected. The projects will be presented on 16 round tables within the Pavilion, inspired by the spatial typology of local hawker centres. 

The projects will be divided into four themes: Communing Relationships, Framing Relationships, Uncovering Relationships and Imagining Relationships. 

Presenting the works of various stakeholders such as architects, designers, communities, citizens and non-profit organisations, the projects collectively feature the different ways in which Singaporeans share public spaces, and how these spaces – both designed and spontaneous – can serve as catalysts in forming relationships, improving the quality of the built environment and forging new spatial contracts. 

Singapore Pavilion to present

Kampung Admiralty by WOHA. Image © Patrick Bingham-Hall

As a compact, island city-state with scarce land resources to support Singapore’s urban development, it is crucial to constantly balance the demands of the population across a wide variety of needs. 

Unique forms of public spaces have correspondingly emerged from these considerations, with Singaporeans creatively establishing distinctive ways of encouraging the community to gather. However, rapidly evolving technologies may change the way public spaces are viewed by communities. 

Singapore Pavilion to present

Provision Shop in Hawker Centre, Clementi, Singapore. Image © Open Narrative

"Over the past year, Covid-19 has also resulted in major shifts in the way Singaporeans interact with one another and with the surrounding built environment," stated in a press release. 

"to gather allows local architects and designers to examine afresh these shared public spaces and address the challenges in making them more sustainable, resilient, and safer, as the community positions itself to emerge stronger from the pandemic."

"As we leverage architecture and urban design to address new global challenges, it is important to continue supporting and facilitating community participation in the design of public spaces. Collectively, public spaces have a significant impact on our quality of life, helping us to form connections, share memories, values and a sense of place in which we call home," said Yap Lay Bee, Singapore Pavilion Co-Commissioner and URA Group Director (Architecture & Urban Design).

Singapore Pavilion to present

Singapore Pavilion. Image © Ow Yeong Jun Jie

"Architects have always played a significant role in designing safe, healthy, inclusive, and equitable spaces, particularly as Singapore begins to take steps to transition cautiously out of the current pandemic," said Prof Ho Puay-Peng, Curator of the Singapore Pavilion and Head of Department of Architecture in NUS.

"Yet, this contribution to creating, sharing and building spaces cannot be without a re-learning of what it means to live together, and a new spatial contract for living together needs to be forged. Returning to the status quo is inexcusable, perhaps this global public health crisis can motivate architects to expand their roles in society innovatively and take this opportunity to actively shape a new culture and a new way forward," Prof Ho Puay-Peng added.

Singapore Pavilion to present

Uncovering Relationships, Both Sides Now, Closer. Image courtesy of Singapore Pavilion

The organizers also said that "due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation globally, digital platforms will be leveraged to present the Pavilion to the international audience." 

The exhibition will be restaged in Singapore in 2022, and the details will be announced later.

Singapore Pavilion to present

Void Deck of Housing and Development Board Flats. Image © Open Narrative

1. Hawker centres are public open-air, cooked food centres in Singapore that offer a variety of different cuisines. In 2020, Hawker culture in Singapore was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Culture and Heritage of Humanity.

2. In Singapore, void decks are sheltered, open spaces at the ground floor of high-rise public apartment blocks.

Top image: Singapore Pavilion © Ow Yeong Jun Jie

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