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Kampung Admiralty, a biophilic architectural piece in Singapore designed by Woha | Photo: Patrick Bingham-Hall.
Kampung Admiralty, by Woha | Photo: Patrick Bingham-Hall.

Enchanting Singapore Values

‘To Gather: The Architecture of Relationships,’ shines a light on Singapore’s urban context and the different ways in which Singaporeans share public spaces.

A daring contribution of the Island State for the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2021, curated by Architect and scholar Hashim Sarkis. An experience of a unique Singaporean style of gathering and living together under the auspices of DesignSingapore Council and The Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Drawing upon local spatial typologies, the exhibition showcased everyday stories, representing a broad cross-section of culture and society: an experience of a Singaporean style of gathering and living together. The projects were brought together by four themes: Communing Relationships, Framing Relationships, Uncovering Relationships, and Imagining Relationships.

Architects have always played a significant role in designing safe, healthy, inclusive, and equitable spaces, particularly as Singapore begins to take steps to transition cautiously out of the current pandemic. Yet, this contribution to creating, sharing, and building spaces cannot be without a re-learning of what it means to live together, and a new spatial contract for living together needs to be forged. Returning to the status quo is inexcusable. This global public health crisis can motivate architects to expand their roles in society innovatively and take this opportunity to actively shape a new culture and a new way forward.

Prof Ho Puay-Peng, Curator of the Singapore Pavilion and Head of Department of Architecture in NUS

As a compact, island city-state with scarce land resources to support Singapore’s urban development, it is crucial to constantly balance the demands of the population across a wide variety of needs. Unique forms of public spaces have emerged from these considerations, with Singaporeans creatively establishing distinctive ways of encouraging the community to gather.

  • Rewilding the Sky, an art piece inspired by Singapore
  • Lighting Detectives, an architectural installation by Lighting Planners Associates.
  • Street art in Singapore

However, rapidly evolving technologies may change the way public spaces are viewed by communities. Over the past years, Covid-19 has also resulted in major shifts in the way the people of Singapore interacted with one another and with the surrounding built environment.

‘To Gather’ addresses the challenges in making them more sustainable, resilient, and safer, as the initiators of this ode to Singapore’s core values during the Venive Biennale.