This year, the theme for the festival is Craft. Throughout ages, part of architecture’s obsession is with the bespoke. Working alongside artisans, architects develop deep understanding of materiality and techniques that often reflect the genius loci. This discussion is timely and relevant as the practice and the construction landscape is rapidly evolving.
If the broadest definition of craft is about precision that demands laborious attention and skilled handwork, where would we locate it within the realm of architectural production or construction in an age where expediency and efficiency are privileged?
While we wish to focus on the role of craft in the discourse of architecture, the theme has the potential to encompass far more. The maker culture that leverages highly on open source and technology hacks the longstanding artisan mode of production. While the cut-paste approach democratizes and demystifies what used to be only exclusive to a few, it does raise questions on issues of equity and ethics.
We wish to engage the fraternity, the academia, the agencies and the public in this discussion and the understanding of craft. At the very least, the festival wishes to honor and recognize those among us that have dedicated a lifetime in perfecting their craft of Architecture.
Craft has always been an intrinsic part of architecture since time immemorial. Though it may not solve world problems, craft does indeed make us happier.
Opening address by Mr Seah Chee Huang - SIA President
Archifest theme ‘Craft’ Address by Festival Director Alan Tay
Keynote Speaker (Mr David Nelson, Head of Design, Senior Executive Partner, Foster+Partners)
Session 01 Speaker 02: Divooe Zein (Founder, Divooe Zein Architects)
Session 01 Speaker 03: Varna Shashidar (Partner, Palinda Kannangara Architects)
Session 01 Speaker 04: Kevin Mark Low (Founder, Small Projects)
Session 01 Speaker 05: AR Justin Hill (Director, Kerry Hill Architects)
Session 02 Speaker 06: Rodney Eggleston (March Studio)
Session 02 Speaker 07: AR Chan Soo Khian (SCDA Architects)
Session 02 Speaker 08: Sam Conrad Joyce (Asst. Professor, Director of Master Programs, SUTD)
Closing Address by Festival Director Alan Tay (Partner,Formwerkz)
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David Nelson is co-head of design sharing design responsibility for all Foster + Partners’ projects. He sits on the practice’s Design Board that has full responsibility for design within the office. It has the authority to instigate, change and redirect design as deemed necessary. While David’s involvement is important in the early, conceptual design phases of a project, he ensures continuity and quality at every stage of a project, as well as encouraging the sharing of expertise across the project teams on various issues, such as urban design and sustainability. David is a Senior Executive Partner, and guides the studio strategically as a member of the Partnership Board.
He studied three-dimensional design at Loughborough College of Art and Hornsey College of Art, specialising in furniture and industrial design, before gaining a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art Environmental Design School. In 1974, he received a travelling scholarship to study town planning in northern Italy. Reflecting this education David also oversees the studios Industrial Design team. He joined the practice in 1976, working on a number of important early projects, including the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and the Hammersmith Centre. In 1979, he joined the team working on the design of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, eventually sharing design responsibility for the project. He was made a Director in 1984. He returned to London in 1986 and became the director responsible for a wide range of projects, including the American Air Museum at Duxford, Century Tower in Tokyo and many other projects in Asia, Europe, Australia and the USA.
He has worked on many projects including the New German Parliament in the Reichstag, Berlin. He has also overseen a number of transport projects, including Bilbao Metro in Spain, North Greenwich Transport Interchange and Canary Wharf Underground station in London. Other projects include the Petronas University of Technology in Malaysia, Stanford University Laboratories in California, the McLaren Technology Centre and Production Centre in Woking, the new Supreme Court in Singapore, the Florence High-speed Railway Station, Deutschebank and Lumiere Residential in Sydney, Australia, Central Market and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and the Apple Campus in California.
He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the RIBA in 2002.
Foster + Partners is a global studio for sustainable architecture, urbanism and design, founded by Norman Foster in 1967. Since then, he, and the team around him, have established an international practice with a worldwide reputation. With offices across the globe, we work as a single studio that is both ethnically and culturally diverse.
Palinda Kannangara Architects
Varna Shashidar works with Palinda Kannangara, her partner on projects of ecological significance. She is an Indian Landscape Architect with a regional landscape practice that focuses on the creation of contextual landscapes. Varna graduated with a Bachelors of Architecture from RVCA and obtained a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Her interest lies in the intersection of the built and the natural world, and in the ecology and aesthetics of the everyday South Asian landscapes. She is a partner in Palinda Kannangara Architects.
Palinda Kannangara Architects is known for an experiential architecture that hinges on simplicity, and connection with the natural environment. The firm’s work has been recognized for contextual sensitivity, crafted material use and a minimalism reflective of the Sri Lankan ethos.The firm works across the island of Sri Lanka on diverse projects residential, staff housing, book buildings, hotels, pavilions, temples, retreats and energy projects.
The firm has been the recipient of several prestigious national and international awards in its 14 years in practice. Their own Studio at Rajagiriya is one of the winners of the RIBA International Awards for Excellence in Architecture 2018.
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Kevin Mark Low
Kevin Mark Low studied architecture and art history in the United States from 1983 to 1991. Working alone since smallprojects was born in 2002, he lives, writes, designs and teaches primarily in Malaysia, the country where his architectural work originates. Engaged in the search for questions regarding things we believe we already have answers for, his work is plural in outcome, focussed on addressing necessity, relevance, and the specificity of context in the process of design.
With each project undertaken, big or small, he is interested in how elements and issues, both large and small, only ever find meaning in the intimate junctions where they meet, and how the big picture is less about finding radical solutions, than a radical way of framing questions. His work on office buildings, houses, master plans and mailboxes, cemeteries, park toilets, low cost housing and furniture have been published in the book, smallprojects (oro group 2010), distributed internationally, and in architectural journals in Europe, Asia and Oceania.
smallprojects was born in 2002. Its work involves house, building and utility design.
The company is run by Kevin Low who returned to Malaysia and culture shock after nine years in the west with a bachelor's and master's degree in architecture and a minor in art and architectural history. Kevin has, over various periods in his life, been professionally involved in writing, environmental sculpture, illustrating, teaching and copyrighting. He has presented papers on building technology at Harvard University and lectured in the architectural department at MIT. While in the United States, Kevin worked in architectural practices both on the East and West coasts and studied closely with the Aga Khan Foundation, earning awards of research grants and fellowships to Italy, North Yemen, Spain and Bangladesh. He joined GDP Architects upon his return to Kuala Lumpur where he stayed for the next eleven years, running the r + d and special projects division.
His work while at GDP architects included project branding, budget hotels and high end condominiums, a refurbished warehouse for a corporate office, various housing types, guardhouses, garden memorials, mailboxes and master plans; the last one being the master plan for Sentul in Kuala Lumpur.
Kevin currently divides his time between architectural and product design, concept master plans, teaching architecture at University Malaya and providing design concept services to clients and other consultants. He still designs mailboxes. And unusual houses for unusual clients with an emphasis on what he calls the garden house.
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Kerry Hill Architects
AR JUSTIN HILL MSIA, FRAIA
Registration number with BOA 1074
UEN no 200608194D
Justin Hill comes from Tasmania and has lived in Singapore since 1981. He is a Director of the Kerry Hill Architects practices in Singapore and Perth, Western Australia. He graduated from the University of Adelaide in 1979.
He has been involved in theatre internationally for many years, both as a practicing architect and as a noted stage designer, and is a co-founder of Theatreworks [Singapore] Ltd.
For the Australian Institute of Architects he is currently a nationally elected councillor, and has served on a number of juries including the 2014 National Architectural Awards. In 2016 he won the biennial Australian Tapestry Workshop Design Prize for Architects. His tapestry, ’22 Temenggong Road, Twilight’ was completed early this year.
Kerry Hill Architects is an award winning Architectural and design practice established in 1979 by Kerry Hill. From its first studio, in Singapore, the practice has evolved over the last 40 years with a project base growing from its original south-east Asia location to most continents of the world. Its second studio was founded in Perth, Western Australia in 1995, in response to its increasing involvement in Australian based work.
Together the two studios comprise approximately 75 predominantly professional staff, with half of these in each location. The practice has three Singapore based Directors and two Associates, with a further two Directors and one Associate based in Perth. A further Director represents both studios, and cohesion between the two locations is strongly cherished and maintained through the sharing of projects, and through interactions at all levels.
The practice offers a full range of Architectural services, from master-planning to project delivery, and prides itself on this continuity through the life of a project, which underpins every successful building outcome. It also carries out Interior Design services for all of its Architectural projects.
extensive experience with resort and city hotels, commercial developments, schools, the performing arts, recreation facilities, residential architecture and restoration projects.
The practice received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2001, for The Datai resort in Langkawi, Malaysia. In addition, the firm has received many international and regional design awards for completed projects, many of which have been widely published in the architecture and design media.
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Rodney Eggleston is a director of March Studio. Established 2007, March Studio represents a new generation of architects in Australia who have been educated in a digital environment but embrace the fundamental elements of making and innovation to realise their projects. The outcomes are highly crafted projects born and refined through the utilisation of a digital and computational process, but also embedded in a thorough knowledge of materials and construction.
March Studio's work is characterised by a meticulous attention to detail, and often an innately creative, though very pragmatic approach to problem solving. Their work for Aesop, in particular, has a long history of material efficiency, often using surplus packaging or recycled materials en masse to stunning effect. As Aesop has expanded internationally, March has been invited to work on their stores in Zurich, Paris and New York, and Eggleston has become adept at designing fittings and fixtures which efficiently minimise shipping and handling - considering cabinetry size and shape in relation to the limitations of transport palettes and install logistics. Efficient design at its best.
SUTD (Singapore University of Technology & Design)
Sam Conrad Joyce is Assistant Professor and Director of the Masters of Architecture course at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, in the Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar.
He explores the intersection of technology driven research and design practice, having prior worked at Foster + Partners Architects and Buro Happold Building Engineers working on projects such as the 2014 Olympic Stadium, Louvé Abu Dhabi, Apple Campus, Bloomberg London HQ, and Mexico City Airport.
Sam heads The Meta Design Lab, an interdisciplinary research group comprising of architects, structural engineers, cognitive-scientists, UX experts, and programmers. It seeks out conceiving, developing, and testing new interfaces to design processes; specifically how A.I. and Big Data can help find novel design solutions, with that goal that humans and computers should be collaborative co-creators.
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
Image courtesy of Foster + Partners
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Divooe Zein Architects
Divooe Zein(Tseng Chih-Wei), the director and founder of Divooe Zein Architects. Zein was raised up in Palau islands and studied in the international school SDA. After his practice of architecture, he established Divooe Zein Architects in Taipei and started the journey and field studies back and forth in between Bali islands in Indonesia and Taiwan from 2003 until now. At 2014, he established siu siu – Lab of Primitive Senses in Taipei, and started the teaching work in Shih Chien University Department of Architecture in Taiwan.
Established in 2003, Divooe Zein Architects is located on the back hill of the Shuangxi Yangmingshan National Park just outside of Taipei, Taiwan. The designs of the team take on a holistic approach that considers the building, environment, perception, and other factors. The team has worked on the renovation of historical buildings, innovative design of research institute, experimental housing, hotels, and more. Since 2014, it has been exploring the use of lightweight materials, as well as the applications and potential of composite materials.
Research Project: siu siu – Lab of Primitive Senses
This project is a research plan initiated by the Divooe Zein Architects design team from Taiwan. Based on the topic of "Learn with Nature", various aspects were organized with the help of a wide range of experts such as botanists, traditional medicine researchers, aborigines, climate change scientists, perfumers, spiritualists, and yoga teachers. The results are shared with the public in this experimental research base.
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Chan Soo Khian
Soo K. Chan is the founding principal and design director of SCDA, a design studio seamlessly integrating architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and product design to create holistic spatial experiences. SCDA has offices in Singapore, Shanghai and New York. The firm has designed in over 70 locations across five continents.
Soo Chan is the recipient of awards from the American Institute of Architects, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the inaugural President’s Design Award, amongst others. Chan obtained his Master of Architecture from Yale. He is a Professor of Architecture at the National University of Singapore and teaches internationally.
The projects designed at SCDA refer to the fundamental elements of architecture (light, space, transparency, materiality, and order) and aspire to humanist qualities of serenity, and beauty. Spaces are composed to be experienced sequentially, through choreographed processions that re-center and re-align the perceptual ‘axis’, terminating in landscaped vistas or open spaces. The approach is phenomenological and is about the emotional response of the user to the space. The figure of the architectural forms, often a series of rectangular boxes, define equally important courts, gardens and other external spaces set against the walled boundaries of the lots. Building lots tend to be fairly rectangular, and when not, differences are usually taken up by shrubs or landscape as poche. This organisational strategy allows for the concept of inversion. This can be interpreted architecturally as the building and outdoor court spaces (grounds) being given equal importance and weightage. This strategy has been applied to projects such as the Heeren Street House in Malacca, the Emerald Hill House and the Sennett House, among others, where the diagram of the expected open spaces (grounds) has been used to generate the building form.
Interstitial spaces between a building and its perimeter, often created by zoning bylaws as setbacks, are claimed to become defined view courts. Corners of rooms are often cut to destabilise the space propagating it outwards towards the garden or courts while allowing for possibilities of refocusing the spaces centrifugally towards internal courts in the more urban typologies. Large sliding doors that disappear into pockets blur the interior zone to the fully exterior surface. Liberated from notions of representation and the vernacular, massing and façade is built on archetypal elements, of volume, light and surface. Walls are treated as separate planes allowing for physical material separation between walls. While this vocabulary provides possibilities to re-interpret and transform the spatial essence of a given vernacular, it is also able to incorporate the rudimentary elements of place-making, through considered interpretation of local craft, culture and climate.
This process of understanding by rote the basic building blocks of the architecture is not unlike the training in architecture in the Beaux-Arts. One must not confuse a consistent design language with a familiar style. I must stress that this approach has not in any way diminished the ability to layer a process and concept-oriented approach with the design practice; while the spirit of the spaces are classical, the details are universally modern. Increasingly, as practice becomes globalised, the applied design vocabulary has to absorb nuances of climate, culture and place. Working with a clean design language allows for the reconciliation of issues of universality versus regional specificity.