Tag: Design History

Drawing Out Architecture

They define the shape of a city. They contain its people and their multitudes of lives too. Buildings are the ubiquitous fabric of our urban condition, yet they somehow remain in the background of the minds of many city dwellers.

Perhaps it is their towering silhouettes that overshadow questions of how they came about. Or their immutable forms that make them seem like a natural phenomenon. But no building is simply a heap of materials, be it stone, concrete, steel or glass. They are assemblies of intentions, resources and beliefs—expressed in a language known as “architecture”.

Architecture may not be able to speak for itself, but the people who created it can. This is how I learned about the buildings by W Architects. As the editor of this exhibition catalogue and the studio’s first-ever monograph published in 2020, I have been privileged to spend hours listening to managing director Mok Wei Wei as he patiently walked me through four decades of the studio’s projects. These recollections at W Architects were frequently interrupted by an excuse to retrieve a drawing, a document, a magazine or newspaper cut-out and even a book from his office to vividly bring home a point.

➜ Read the full essay in To Draw an Idea: Retracing the Designs of William Lim Associates – W Architects

Hawker Colours: Melamine Tableware in Singapore

They refer not to the green of chendol or the red of mee goreng, but the riot of colourful plates and bowls that many hawker dishes in Singapore are served in today. Red, green, yellow, purple, pink, and more! These tableware defy conventional aesthetic sensibilities and even colour psychology, but have become entrenched in our local hawker culture. Should tableware colours be considered as part of Singapore’s UNESCO-inscribed hawker culture? Do consumers associate their favourite hawker dishes with particular colours? Learn more and participate in our survey at: www.hawkercolours.com (mobile only).

Stories on the website include:

Everyday Modernism: Architecture and Society in Singapore

Through a lens of social and architectural histories, the book uncovers the many untold stories of the Southeast Asian city-state’s modernization, from the rise of heroic skyscrapers, such as the Pearl Bank Apartments, to the spread of utilitarian typologies like the multi-storey car park. It investigates how modernism, through both form and function, radically transformed Singapore and made its inhabitants into modern citizens. The most intensive period of such change happened in the 1960s and 1970s under the rise of a developmental state seeking to safeguard its new-found independence. However, the book also looks both earlier and later, from between the 1930s to the 1980s, to cover a wider range of histories, building types and also architectural styles, expanding from the International Style and Brutalism and into Art Deco and even a touch of Postmodernism.

➜ Read more about this book I co-authored with Chang Jiat-Hwee and Darren Soh