Offering a welcoming breather in the heart of Singapore’s busy business district, DP Architects’ Archifest Pavilion invites the public to connect with each other and with the surrounding environment through design.
It has been a busy few weeks leading up to the highly anticipated opening of Singapore’s annual Archifest, organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects with the purpose to celebrating the architecture and the built environment of the city. With this year marking the event’s 10th anniversary, the festival saw the return of the Archifest Pavilion – a symbolic structure at the epicentre of Archifest’s activities – designed by DP Architects in the spirit of this year’s theme of Exhale that questions the rapid speed of life in dense cities.
“SIA’s theme challenged us to influence the city’s pace of life with architecture,” says Ang Guo Zi, Associate Director at DP Architects. “Can architecture alone really induce a city to ‘rediscover its own rhythm’? Located in the heart of the Central Business District, we found the context of that question excitingly provocative.”
For those working or living in the Central Business District, it has been impossible to miss the rising scaffolding and strips of colourful netting swiftly taking shape in the usually open green lawn space anchoring Raffles Place and its high-rise surroundings. Serving as a statement and as a functional space, the Pavilion answered to this year’s Exhale theme most profoundly, perhaps, by simply having been situated where it has been – a high-density, high-activity location filled with working professionals rushing to and from their daily meetings in a charged, hectic and, often, breathless environment.
The design team that included DP Architects, DP Engineers, DP Green, Illuminate lighting design consultancy, contractors and engineers Shanghai Chong Kee Construction Pte Ltd and Keon Consult Pte Ltd aimed to achieve a purposefully colourful and ephemeral look for the Pavilion’s structure. Seeking to make an immediate impact with energetic bands of colour, the Pavilion’s design sought to create an intimate and unique relationship with each of its incidental viewers, with hues of colours inviting visitors to pause, look up and appreciate their surroundings. Seeking to revitalise and enliven the busy urban landscape with its presence, the Pavilion aimed to elicit its viewers’ basic responses to vibrant colours and to influence the psychological and physiological responses to gradations of light for a positive reaction.
Apart from creating a colourful, albeit temporary, addition to the Raffles Place site, the DP Architects design team also approached the project with a sustainable point of view. The team developed the Pavilion’s skeletal scaffolding structure from the contractor’s existing stock with the goal to reuse the steel on future construction sites after the structure’s disassembly. Similarly, the team imagined the Pavilion’s polychromatic fins of colour to be reusable as well, with the multiple layers of colour to be composed of safety netting material to create density in colour and form and to be reused at upcoming construction sites after Archifest’s conclusion. Through the usage of the chosen materials, the design team also hoped to “invert the usual connotations of construction sites such as a sense of dislocation and loss” and to look at them instead as marks of progress and achievement.
“With the Archifest Pavilion, we wanted people to find a moment of wonder and respite in the heart of our bustling city,” says Ang. “There is no particular take-home message – each individual should frame his or her own story, own experience and memory of this transient place.”