Winsome NUS designs

10 February 2016 | EducationCommunity
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The Smart Mask with micro-ventilator was the preferred choice of protective masks among Singapore consumers during the haze last year (Photo: InnoSparks Pte Ltd)

A face mask with micro-ventilator, an artisan table inspired by a rainbow-hued Malay dessert, and “bungalows in the sky” with dramatic green sky terraces were among the winning creations by NUS staff, students and alumni at the President’s Design Award 2015. In addition, an alumnus Mr Siew Man Kok won the prestigious Designer of the Year Award for embracing local climate and topicality, while showing sensitivity to the social, cultural and tropical context of his works.

AIR+ Smart Mask is invented by Innosparks Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of ST Engineering, in collaboration with Associate Professor Erik Birgersson from NUS Engineering Science Programme and Mr Donn Koh, Lecturer from NUS Industrial Design and Co-Founder of STUCK Design Pte Ltd. It combines two products — an ergonomic protective mask designed in three sizes for optimum fit (Smart Mask) and the world's first attachable micro-ventilator (AIR+) that eliminates the build-up of heat, moisture and carbon dioxide trapped inside protective masks. 

Assoc Prof Birgersson devised mathematical models not only to quantify the interactions between thermoregulation, respiration, the filter and fan, but also guided the design. Modelled on computers and then run through mathematical simulations, the team designed prototypes using 3D printing technology to create varying shapes and sizes to fit a wider range of face profiles. While Innosparks worked on the engineering and development aspects to optimise performance and functionality of the mask, STUCK Design, led by Mr Koh, provided the industrial design expertise to arrive at the ease-of-use and “face-friendly” shape and neutral look for the mask. 

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Pour, by Mr Tan, inspired by the Malay kuih lapis cake

Mr Hans Tan, an Assistant Professor with NUS Industrial Design, drew inspiration for his side table “Pour” from the local kuih lapis, a steamed cake made by pouring colourful layers of sago flour. The table comprises overlapping glossy circles of vivid yellow, turquoise, pink, sky blue and light green.

Together with two NUS Industrial Design undergraduates, Year 2 Lynn Ho Xin Yi and Year 1 Yong Zi Fong, Mr Tan spent five months exploring fabrication techniques and processes, and complicated experimentation with plastic resin-casting methods.

The founder of Hans Tan Studio described the table as “moulding without a mould”, by casting the table surface upside down without any walls to hold in the liquid resin. The challenging manufacturing process demanded new craftsmanship techniques, and his two student assistants helped by independently developing fillers that alter the viscosity of liquid resin and increase surface tension without losing its “pourability”.

Mr Mok Wei Wei, Professor in Practice at NUS Architecture, headed his team at W Architects Pte Ltd to conceptualise The Oliv, a 12-storey condominium sited at Balmoral Road in Singapore. It maximises the sky terrace approach into communal spaces, with landscaped outdoor areas that add the illusion of an extended garden, besides giving shelter from rain and sun. The irregularity of the profile is accented by the use of natural balau wood for the top deck in high-rise residences to form “bungalows in the sky”.

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The Oliv boasts dramatic green terraces in common spaces (Photo: Edward Hendricks)

NUS Alumnus Mr Siew was named one of three designers of the year. The Chairman and Founding Director of MKPL Architects Pte Ltd was cited for his works on a wide spectrum of projects ranging from master planning, institutional and commercial projects, to public housing and private homes. An award-winning work was the Bidadari Estate, public housing blocks located within a park, while his shophouse project at Cuff Road cleverly played on the building’s internal natural and artificial light.

The highest accolades in Singapore bestowed on designers and design projects, the President’s Design Award lauds the achievements and contributions of Singapore designers who make a difference to the lives of Singaporeans and that of the larger global community. It is administered by the DesignSingapore Council of the Ministry of Communications and Information, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. An exhibition of the 2015 Award is being held at the National Design Centre till 29 February 2016.

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Mr Siew’s shophouse project at Cuff Road focused on the building’s internal play of natural and artificial light (Photo: Albert Lim)