Shannon Lim hated studying until he discovered design
If not for design, Shannon Lim may still be bumming around in life. He never did his homework in school and spent his time skateboarding instead, until he set his mind on becoming a photographer. But in order to get into one of Singapore’s top design schools where photography is also taught, Lim realized he needed good grades.
“It was an epiphany,” he recalls. “I really was a very bad student. I would sleep in class the whole day. For my chemistry paper, I wrote ‘bunsen burner’ for all the questions.” Even though it was a struggle to pass his exams, Lim did well enough to study photography at Temasek Design School. That was when he made his second epiphany in life: that he wanted to be a graphic designer instead.
Deep below the iconic Marina Bay lies the world’s largest district cooling system (DCS) that runs 24/7.
Drivers whizzing by Bayfront Avenue would most likely miss it. Standing next to the towering Marina Bay Sands hotel is a boxy structure that could well be a mirage. Shimmering in the sunlight is a curtain of aluminium flappers seemingly dancing with the wind — a mesmerising sight that camouflages the cooling tower of the world’s deepest district cooling system in plain sight.
Underneath this tower wrapped in a screen by the artist Ned Kahn is a plant that produces chilled water, which is five storeys and extends to 25m deep. The only other sign of this round-the-clock operation is a silver-on-silver sign of the “Singapore District Cooling Pte Ltd” tucked underneath Bayfront Avenue. Located just steps away from the Helix Bridge and the ArtScience Museum, this rectangular plaque points towards an off-white door: the entrance to the underground facility that keeps Singapore’s business district cool in its tropical climate.
Save precious water. Floss your teeth. Buckle up for safety. Those are just some of the truisms familiar to generations of Singaporeans. Since gaining independence five decades ago, the Southeast Asian city-state has seen countless government campaigns aimed to mold citizens who could live up to the nation’s leap from Third World to First. Design has played a central role in these efforts, as evident in the 6,000+ posters preserved in the National Archives of Singapore.
Since its establishment in 1968, this state institution has archived posters as part of its collection of material culture—including government records, maps, photographs, oral history interviews, audiovisual, and sound recordings—that are significant to Singapore’s history. Most of its posters come from government campaigns, with a small number created for cultural events, movies, and corporations.