Commissioned by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) of the Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and curated by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in collaboration with the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture (NUS), the Singapore Pavilion asks if there is indeed No More Free Space? in the island state, in response to the overarching theme Freespace conceptualised by curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara.
No More Free Space? tells the story of how, in spite of the lack of free space, Singapore-based architects, urban planners and place-makers have creatively found ways to bring delightful free spaces to the city’s everyday life.
The exhibition, which marks the country’s sixth showcase at the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, since 2004, celebrates how architects and planners have innovated and borrowed from nature to create useful and delightful spaces and places.
Set against the backdrop of Singapore’s compact urban environment, the exhibition features 12 Singapore-based projects that showcase the resourcefulness of the architects, their inspirations and the realisation of ideas, while borrowing natural resources such as light, air, greenery and water. Each of the 12 projects featured shows imagination, openness, discovery and resolution to turn constraints into possibilities. The projects also tap into social capital in order to bring joy and connect people to the larger community.
The Pavilion’s centrepiece features an immersive installation, an ethereal cloud made of skilfully handcrafted acrylic knots gently suspended in the vast spaces of the Sale d’Armi – a venue provided by the National Arts Council. Complete with a multi-sensory projection of lights, sounds and images of Singapore, the pavilion invites visitors to immerse themselves in the spaces within the cloud and enjoy the multi-sensorial installation – in itself an example of a resourceful, unexpected free space. The presentation will be restaged in Singapore in 2019 to engage the public about turning Singapore’s physical constraints into possibilities with imagination and creativity.
No More Free Space? hopes to be a testimony of how the creative freedom of mind has the power to turn space constraints into a myriad of alternative possibilities.
Singapore is a unique, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic island city-state with a population of about 5.6 million people on a land area of just 720 km2. Its dense urban fabric has to support a multitude of uses and needs whilst dealing with spatial constraints.
More than 400 times smaller than Italy, Singapore has turned its constraints into opportunity by re-imagining what a highly compact city can be. As a city and nation-state, Singapore has to set aside land not just for housing, utilities, business, water catchment and recreation, but it also has to ensure there is land for future growth to keep the economy thriving and vibrant.
“The Singapore story is one of overcoming constraints and turning adversity into opportunity. The Singapore Pavilion embodies this ethos. Our architects have not allowed limited physical space to limit their ambitions. They have used their imagination to create more with less, which is also relevant for a rapidly urbanising Asia and the world. The aim of our Pavilion is to share Singapore’s experience with others facing similar challenges – how we have overcome constraints through design to build a better home for our people,” said Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S Iswaran.
“Delightful spaces are places we love to be in; they are where we create shared memories and make emotional connections. Whether it’s a community kitchen in the unused space of a public housing development, or a library in a shopping mall, good design can make us feel positively about a space. The Singapore Pavilion spotlights the best examples of our architects shaping an innovative and loveable city by design,” said Mr Mark Wee, Executive Director (Designate) of the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and Co-Commissioner of the Singapore Pavilion.
“Singapore is one of the world’s most liveable cities, an outcome of integrated and long-term planning, with priority placed on good architecture and urban design. The articulation of good design in our spaces not only sparks imagination, but can also evoke wonder and turn spaces from the functional and utilitarian into a delightful community asset. The Singapore Pavilion this year, showcases creative brilliance in the design of our public and private spaces, bringing vibrancy and delight to the people,” said Mr Larry Ng, Group Director of Architecture and Urban Design Excellence at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Co-Commissioner of the Singapore Pavilion.
“SUTD is honoured to lead the curation of this year’s Singapore Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018. Through ‘No More Free Space?’, my fellow curators from architectural practice, SUTD and NUS hope to present to the world the delightful possibilities of designing spaces out of limited or even non-existent free space. Drawing from the best 12 Singapore projects, we hope to spur our imagination of the possibilities and elicit an appreciation of free space of architecture,” said Prof Erwin Viray, Head of the Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
Sale d’Armi, Arsenale
26 May – 25 November 2018
For more information on the Singapore Pavilion and design forum, please visit website: www.nomorefreespace.com.
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Bridgette See, Communications & International Relations, DesignSingapore Council
Serene Tan, Strategic Communications & Outreach Department, Urban Redevelopment Authority
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About the DesignSingapore Council
DesignSingapore Council’s (Dsg) vision is for Singapore to be an innovation-driven economy and a loveable city through design by 2025. As the national agency that promotes design, our mission is to develop the design sector, help Singapore use design for innovation and growth, and make life better in this UNESCO Creative City of Design. Dsg is a division of the Ministry of Communications and Information.
About the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA)
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore’s land use planning and conservation agency. Our mission is “to make Singapore a great city to live, work and play”. We strive to create an endearing home and a vibrant and sustainable future city through far-sighted planning and innovation, in partnership with the community.
URA’s multi-faceted role includes being the main government land sales agent. Through the sale of State land, we attract and channel private capital investment to develop sites to support economic and social development. We also partner the community to enliven our public spaces to create a car-lite, people-friendly and liveable city for all to enjoy. In shaping a distinctive city, URA also promotes architecture and urban design excellence. Visit www.ura.gov.sg for more information.
About the Singapore University of Technology and Design
The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) is Singapore’s fourth public university, and one of the first universities in the world to incorporate the art and science of design and technology into a multi-disciplinary curriculum. SUTD was established in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and seeks to advance knowledge and nurture technically-grounded leaders and innovators to serve societal needs.
Also in collaboration with Zhejiang University and Singapore Management University, SUTD, a research-intensive university, is distinguished by its unique East and West academic programmes which incorporate elements of entrepreneurship, management and design thinking. Graduate opportunities include the Master of Architecture, the Master of Science in Urban Science, Policy and Planning, and various SUTD PhD programmes. www.sutd.edu.sg.
About National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Department of Architecture, NUS School of Design and Environment
A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise. NUS has 17 faculties and schools across three campuses. Over 38,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives. NUS also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.
The Department of Architecture, which is part of the NUS School of Design and Environment, was established in 1958. Today, NUS Architecture offers a wide range of programmes, including landscape architecture, urban design, urban planning and integrated sustainable design. Building on the strength of its rich heritage and visionary leadership, NUS Architecture is poised to remain at the forefront of global excellence in architectural education and research, with a focus on high density Asian cities in the tropics. For more information on NUS and NUS Architecture, please visit www.nus.edu.sg and www.arch.nus.edu.sg.