Time Out Singapore: ‘Architours 2013’ Guide

The only festival dedicated to architecture in the country, Archifest is back this month for its seventh year. Organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), the festival features three weeks of events, with the theme ‘Small is Beautiful’ – celebrating projects that are small in size but large in ambition and impact.

A group of people take photos at last year's Architours. Image courtesy of Archifest.

A group of people take photos at last year’s Architours. Image courtesy of Archifest.

16 Sep 2013: The centrepiece of the event is the zero-waste Archifest Pavilion, which was designed by RSP Architects Planners & Engineers following a competition in June and serves as the main hub for the event. The Archifest Conference (1 Oct) sees a string of influential speakers who will share their ideas on building design, and the festival will close with an Urban Picnic (12 Oct) complete with performances.

For those of you who want to get a bit more involved, the popular Architours is your thing. Organised by The Architecture Society at NUS, professional architects and students will be taking visitors into various buildings around town on 13 separate trails. Here, Melvin Lew, president of The Architecture Society, shows us three buildings that are part of this year’s Architours.

1. ‘The House of Interlocking Boxes’, Saraca Road, by Aamer Architects

The boxes that form the basic look of this residential home in Seletar have been cleverly placed to create balconies, terraces and planters that can be accessed by every bedroom on the second floor. Inside the house, skylight streams down from the rooftop swimming pool’s glass floor all the way to the ground level. The building was also designed so that its square grid is rotated by 45 degrees off the boundary lines to catch the breeze. Says Law: ‘The Saraca Road project by Aamer Architects is a shining example of contemporary Singapore architecture by a local small firm. With a repertoire of landed properties in its portfolio, Aamer Architects continues to push the envelope in the area of designing for homes. The project is a design by a small firm that finds the ideal solution to a combination of factors, including site, climate and structure. Given the role of local small architecture firms in the design of homes in Singapore, Saraca Road achieves aesthetic perfection and represents an achievement by the local architecture community.’

2. 25 Chapel Road, by RichardHO Architects

This quaint single-storey Art Deco-style bungalow was a legacy from parents to their children, and has now been restored and revamped to suit modern needs. The renovations included a new wing with a larger space, as well as a swanky private lap pool – the Architour, unfortunately, doesn’t include taking a dip. Says Law: ‘25 Chapel Road showcases the conservation prowess of small firms. Originally built in the early 20th century, the home was repaired and reinstated painstakingly by RichardHO Architects, including many of the bungalow’s unique and distinguishing features. Careful personal attention paid by the architect ensured a smooth restoration and further addition to the original property, giving this home a second lease of life, and winning the 2010 URA Architectural Heritage Award.’

3. PARKROYAL on Pickering, 3 Upper Pickering Street, by WOHA

Opened in January this year, the award-winning four-star hotel embodies the ‘hotel in a garden’ concept and features over 15,000 square metres of greenery, waterfalls, planter walls and a zero-energy sky garden. Its stacked exterior is inspired by the rice-paddy fields of Bali, and energy-saving elements such as solar panels and rain harvesting devices are incorporated into the building. Says Law: ‘PARKROYAL on Pickering was selected as it is a rather large scale project, completed by a relatively small architecture firm in Singapore. The hotel is an exemplary project that showcases the capability of small firms to achieve award-winning status even for major projects that are usually handled by the bigger firms. The level of detail in this project is also remarkable, given WOHA’s extensive experience with smaller projects in which everything is thoughtfully detailed down to the smallest detail.’

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