When a landscaped pedestrian mall was introduced along Orchard Road in the 1970s, it seemed like a perfectly good idea. A tree-lined retail boulevard would bolster Singapore’s then emerging ambitions to become a ‘Garden City’, and offer shoppers shade as they went from mall to mall. Today, the stretch (over two kilometres long) is invaded by thousands of birds. Roosting on the canopies of the Angsana trees, the birds poop on the mall, terrorise patrons at the alfresco cafes and declare their presence every evening with a deafening cacophony.
A greener environment has made Orchard Road ‘A Great Street’ (as its tagline goes) not just for people, but ‘pests’ too. As urbanscapes become increasingly designed with and for nature, such conflicts are sure to grow. Trees and shrubs are not objects designed for users. Nor are they simply another material on a mood board. These living organisms are part of an ecology that architects, designers, clients and users must become more aware of for us to truly live in works that embrace nature.
➜ Read the full column in CUBES #97 — Re-Nature (Oct/Nov/Dec 2019)
A cardboard box, a poly bag or a padded envelope – these generic pieces of packaging define the ubiquity of e-commerce today. Regardless which online retailer one patronises, it is probably impossible to tell the difference when the package arrives. While e-commerce boasts of designing all sorts of interactions, including predicting customers’ preferences and nudging more purchases, its delivery of an online purchase in real life remains unsophisticated and in need of better design.
➜ Read the full column in CUBES #96 (Jul/Aug/Sep 2019)
What do we need to carry out work today? A table, a chair, and for many of us, some kind of electronic device. Whether it is preparing documents, organising schedules or even meeting colleagues, ‘work’ is mostly done through interactions with machines – ranging from the photocopier to the computer to the smartphone.
Yet, conversations revolving around the design of work environments are largely stuck on the physical work space. Even as designers update office furniture and rearrange layouts toward new definitions of ‘ergonomic’ and ‘productivity’, the virtual office where workers spend their time tapping, clicking and typing away – often in silent frustration – is regarded as the domain of the IT department.
➜ Read the full column in CUBES #95 (Apr/May/Jun 2019)