Friday, October 26, 2007

Singapore Uncovered 2007 Event Report by Calvin Chua

Singapore Uncovered 2007 - Designing Singapore Panel Discussion

The Singapore Uncovered festival was launched last Thursday 4th October on a high note with a panel discussion on Designing Singapore at the Royal Gardens Hotel, London. I was very privilege to be one of the three SCNUK architecture students to be sponsored by Contact
Singapore for this event. Not only did I leave the event being more informed about design developments in Singapore, it was also heart warming to converse with the panelist on a personal level.

The panel consisted of key Singapore architects, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong – although not an architect by training but he was influential in leading and 'designing' Singapore in the nineties – Mr Liu Thai Ker, ex-Chief Planner in URA; and very prominent British architects, which included Jack Pringle who was chairing the discussion, Graham Cartledge and Michael Wilford who played a pivotal role in Singapore's architectural scene, such as the realisation of our Esplanade.

The discussion started with SM Goh giving a brief history of Singapore's building, planning and architectural developments, followed by Mr Liu who expounded on the possibilities and vision of
Singapore's architectural and design scene. Various pertinent Singapore architectural issues very were brought up during the discussion, such as question of sustainability in our buildings, the 'disneyfication' of our architecture and heritage and the over emphasis of architecture as the main driving force in our design industry. I also posted a question on the level of public involvement in our architectural projects, and if Singapore could learn from the British in this aspect. Interestingly, each of the panelists had different interpretations on my question and gave a whole range of insightful replies, such as the problem with Private Public Partnership architectural projects and how Singapore should not model after it. However, I felt that the time allocated for discussion was too short given that the participants were very forthcoming in their
opinions and Jack Pringle had to make the difficult decision in ending the discussion even though there were several participants wanting to post their questions.

After the discussion, dinner was fabulous, not only because of the delicious Singaporean food, but also the opportunity in interacting with other participants and especially SM Goh and Mr Liu, who shared their vision and thoughts on our design culture and society on a very personal level. Indeed, the panel discussion was intellectually stimulating and I believe each of us took home another perspective of Singapore's architectural development.

Calvin Chua
Architectural Association
School Of Architecture
SCNUK member


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