NUS at Venice Biennale

16 May 2016 | Education
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Impression of Singapore Pavilion at Architettura Biennale (Credit: Red Bean Architects)

NUS Architecture will be curating, for the first time, the Singapore Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition (Biennale Architettura 2016) of the La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennale) in Venice, Italy. Students from the department will also be acting as docents throughout the event, held from 28 May to 27 November.

The Singapore Pavilion’s exhibition, titled Space to Imagine, Room for Everyone, is a response to the architecture exhibition’s theme, Reporting from the Front. Singapore’s contribution to the event, which features 88 participants from 37 countries, showcases a display of 81 customised lanterns illuminating photos of ordinary Singaporeans in public housing who have creatively made the space their own.

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Glass lanterns, lined with scenes of public housing flat interiors, will make the Singapore Pavilion’s centrepiece

Space to Imagine, Room for Everyone goes behind Singapore’s carefully planned infrastructure and its modern cityscape to put the spotlight on the people and their creative actions in forging new identities, connections to place and social bonds. It was commissioned by DesignSingapore Council of the Ministry of Communications and Information.

Lead Curator NUS Architecture Head Associate Professor Wong Yunn Chii explained that the exhibition “turned the city inside out”. Photos of the interior of people’s homes line three sides of the 81 glass lanterns while a model of a public housing flat resides within it. The images were selected from more than 2,000 photos taken by Co-Curator NUS Architecture Senior Lecturer Tomohisa Miyauchi during his first three years in Singapore. He knocked on the doors of public housing flats all over Singapore, snapping shots of interesting interiors he encountered.

Space to Imagine, Room for Everyone shares with the global audience the challenges in Singapore’s next stage of development, especially how individuals, enterprises and ground-up actions are making a palpable difference. As small ‘battles’ in its home front, the selections provide a poignant account on how design improves the quality of the built environment and people’s lives,” explained Assoc Prof Wong.

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Assoc Prof Wong (right) with student docents (from left): Vincent Tan, Megan Kuek, Mary Ann Ng and Isabel Lye

The exhibit is grouped into three sections: People and Their Homes, People Working the Land and People Engaging the City. People and Their Homes includes scenes from 03-FLATS, an award-winning film conceptualised by NUS Architecture Assistant Professor Lilian Chee. One of the elements in People Engaging the City is a 10m topographical model of the Rail Corridor by NUS Architecture students. The Rail Corridor stretches 26 km from north to south of Singapore, forming the tail end of the Peninsula Malaysia-Singapore rail route that operated from the early 1900s till 2011.

Singapore, now a UNESCO Creative City of Design, will be participating in Biennale Architettura for the fifth time. It made its first appearance at the event, which is part of the 120-year-old Venice Biennale, in 2004.