Yesterday, I remember Today and Tomorrow: Future Memory of a Singaporean
By Kelley Cheng
National Theatre is one of the most significant architectural icons of Singapore in the 70s. The park in front is a favourite spot for weekend family outings. National Theatre (picture courtesy of Paulo Alcazaren)
My Future Memory is riding on the trishaw to Tiong Bahru open air market with my grandma and my cousin, both of us squeezed on either side by my plumpy grandma. My Future Memory is my dad taking a photo of me in front of the National Theatre. My Future Memory is doing research in the National Library before the internet age. My Future Memory is when a movie ticket cost $2.50 and a bowl of noodles cost $1.20. Continue Reading
Aesthetic as Relief:
Tracing Lost Monuments of Singapore
Text and photography by Michael Lee Hong Hwee
WHAT QUALIFIES A DEMOLISHED BUILDING AS A MONUMENT WORTH REMEMBERING? REFLECTING ON THE WORKS OF BAUDELAIRE AND GRAYLING, AS WELL AS HIS PAST PROJECT CITY PLANNED: TRACING MONUMENT, MICHAEL LEE PUTS FORTH A CASE FOR THE ARCHIVAL OF A LOST SINGAPORE.
EN BLOC MON AMOUR
Text and Photography by Stephane Lasserre
When a building is condemned to death by its owners, what does it say in its last days? In this photo essay, Stephane Lasserre captures the final moments of some of Singapore’s most famous condominiums.
“Unlike the urban structures one finds in Europe that were created with a series of walls, Tokyo consists of an assemblage of independent buildings (grains).”— Koh Kitayama1
Among Asian metropolises, Tokyo, along with Hong Kong, accounts for a disproportionate share of the global urban imaginary. The set of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was partially inspired by Tokyo’s gaudy neon streets and squalid alleys, while the famous highway scene in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris was actually shot on location in the Akasaka-mitsuke district, a massive swathe of concrete blocks and tangled overhead expressways. Drawn to this perplexing image of a vintage future city (which now seems prematurely aged: when will Tokyo, like Boston, embark on its own Big Dig to bury all those cumbersome infrastructural eyesores?), Scott and Tarkovsky were some of the first Western visitors to try to decipher the postmodern, scattershot architectural landscape of the hyperactive Japanese capital. Continue Reading
Towards an Architectural Method: Operative Artefacts & Other Shared Fields
H. Koon Wee
As our civilisation becomes engulfed in the “global” condition, we no longer question its premises. Like the market economy, democracy, consumerism and technology, it is an assumed good. Like green architecture and green cities, we embrace them, often ignoring their real costs to our society. In broad cultural categories, globalisation is often described as synonymous with, or in one form or another as operating with the same assumptions as, scientific rationalism, post-industrialisation, secularisation, consumerism and other brutally monolithic categories.
In Memory of Places Meant to Be Forgotten: A Case of Recurring Amnesia
By Pauline Ang
The civil servants—the bureaucracy of Singapore—are obsessively active. Like the horse men of the Apocalypse, they will not rest before the entire island is plowed over, made utterly unrecognisable. They force all others, especially those handicapped by a need for reflection (i.e.,Singapore’s intellectuals) into different degrees of more or less humiliating passivity or complicity.1
—Rem Koolhaas, S, M, L, XL, 1995.
Singapore was first propelled onto the stage of international architectural discourse with Rem Koolhaas’s provocative essay “Singapore Songlines: Portrait of a Potemkin Metropolis…or Thirty Years of Tabula Rasa”, published in 1995 as part of his hugely influential, weighty brick of a book—S, M, L, XL. Continue Reading
When I dwelt on it, I realised we experience death all the time—people constantly walk in and out of our lives.
Like a body, a building is a container for experiences. Like a body, a building will die. Its communalised meaning might be disembodied and retained like the corpus of a “great” thinker. Its vacant structure may be mummified. But its function, which defined it, cannot function indefinitely.
By Stephen Black
I am writing this on the 8th floor of the National Library of Singapore. The three sides of this large room feature windows that reach from floor to ceiling. Below are the Raffles Hotel, the Esplanade, the Marine Bay Sands (MBS) hotel, the Suntec Convention Centre and the Singapore Flyer. I see striped, angular buildings, glass towers and bland buildings with roofs covered with air conditioners. Nearby, a few streets are bordered with orange-tiled roofs. Far away is the sea, the river and countless blocks of HDBs—government-built apartment complexes. Continue Reading
Headed by Ang Xinwei, Programme Leader of LASALLE College of the Arts, a group of LASALLE students were roped in to help with certain parts of the construction of the Future Memory Pavilion, and at the same time, to learn the ropes (literally) about design and construction from Pernilla & Asif. Three students share their experience.
The idea of a “future memory” in architecture, so dear to Foster, is to be debated in a specially commissioned pavilion for the 2011 Singapore ArchiFest in October. Asif Khan, a young London architect whose work also includes craft, furniture and product design, has been commissioned to create the Future Memory Pavilion on behalf of the British Council, in partnership with the Royal Academy of Arts and the Preservation of Monuments Board, Singapore.
Khan’s sketch reveals an elemental design made of ice and sand that will morph during the course of the festival. It captures the spirit of a fascinating line of architectural enquiry, and a contradiction inherent to futuristic design: no matter how apparently innovative they are, buildings retain powerful memories of past. Even as architects try to construct the future, it slips away and becomes the past – just as Khan’s pavilion will slowly dissolve back into the Earth and a state of timelessness.
Memory acts to mediate. All our experiences are continually refracted through the prism of memory. Yet memory itself is mutable: it can be moulded, augmented, conditioned, repressed or lost; it is constantly in flux. We understand the notion of memory dialectically. It oscillates between polarities: the long and the short-term, the individual and the collective, the fixed and the contested. Therefore how can we take account of memory, which is in its very nature ephemeral and transient, when dealing with works of art and architecture that operate in the physical realm?
Tasked with creating an installation to spark dialogue at Design Miami this year as part of the W Hotel’s “Conversation Pieces,” Asif Khan took the anti-architecture route, using helium, soap and water to make a mini-cloud cover indoors. Khan explains it as “an architectural experiment into what’s the simplest way to create a shaded space where conversations can happen.”
Every June, the W Hotel Designers of the Future Awards are presented to a group of young designers whose work is characterized by new aesthetic research, innovative uses of technology and a creative “contamination” with other disciplines. This year a jury of twelve, including Mike Tiedy, SVP Global Grand & Innovation Starwood Hotels; Kenya Hara, Creative Director, Muji; industrial designer Konstantin Grcic; and Aric Chen, creative director of Beijing Design Week, honored the English architect Asif Khan, the Viennese office mischer’traxler and studio juju from Singapore.
David Tanguy was in Singapore for the Richard Rogers + Architects: From the House to the City exhibition presented at the URA. The British Council organised a talk by David to be held at the award-winning offices of BBH Singapore and hooked him up with Sarah Cheng-De Winne at 938LIVE: