Slow down, notice nuances of city’s architecture at Archifest

Themed Exhale, this year's Archifest wants people to slow down and explore how they experience their environment

This year's Archifest wants participants to slow down and breathe, amid the green lawns of Raffles Place Park.

Even as you stop to take a break, there is much on the slate to check out at the home-grown architecture festival - including talks and tours.

The annual festival's 10th edition, which starts next Friday and runs until Oct 9, is themed Exhale.

Mr Chio Wen Tian, 28, the festival's co-director, says the theme was chosen to get people to notice the nuances behind the city's architecture.

The architectural associate, who works at DP Architects, says: "It also serves as a rhetorical counterpoint to the very fast-paced lifestyle associated with dense cities such as Singapore. The festival, through its programmes and activities, seeks to question this idea of our city and explore how we experience our environment."


The upcoming Archifest Pavilion; and the Grace Assembly of God church (above) by Laud Architects, which is a stop on Architours. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARCHIFEST 2016

This year's event is organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA) and the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects (Sila) - the first time both organisations are working together for the festival.

Calling the partnership a "natural" one, Mr Chio says: "The conversation (about design in our city) shouldn't just be about architecture."

There are more than 30 events lined up and the organisers expect 100,000 visitors this year, up from 47,000 last year.

Some highlights include SG Farm, a pop-up farm put on by multi- disciplinary collective Tanah, to demonstrate how farming can fit into an urbanscape; an interactive installation that allows stressed workers to vent their frustrations by flipping cardboard tables; and a photography workshop by popular Instagrammer Yafiq Yusman, known for his stunning architecture pictures on the social media site.


The upcoming Archifest Pavilion (above); and the Grace Assembly of God church by Laud Architects, which is a stop on Architours. PHOTO: TEO ZI TONG

Architours, a perennial crowd- pleaser, will take participants on guided tours around Singapore. They will get to view properties ranging from a house built on a triangular plot of land to the new home of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in Sungei Tengah Road, where rescued animals are housed in hexagonal "pods".

Most of the festival's events will take place in the Archifest Pavilion, a temporary structure at Raffles Place Park above the MRT station.

Such pavilions have been erected around town to house the festival since 2012. However, it took a hiatus last year when Archifest was held at the SIA's shophouse headquarters in Neil Road.

  • VIEW IT / ARCHIFEST 2016

  • WHERE: Archifest Pavilion @ Raffles Place Park, above Raffles Place MRT station at the Zoysia Lawn between Exits A and B

    WHEN: Next Friday to Oct 9, open from 9am to 7pm daily

    INFO: Go to www.archifest.sg for event schedule and to sign up for workshops and Architours

This year's pavilion is no common structure. For one thing, it is hard to miss. Rows of multi-coloured safety netting - a common sight in construction sites - will be hung over 70 tonnes of scaffolding pipes that form the skeleton of the pavilion. The inside is kitted out with plywood benches and lighting.

The 22m-tall structure, designed by a team from DP Architects, is also said to be "zero waste". After it is torn down, all the materials will be re-used in construction sites and for other projects.

The design was picked by a four-person jury from 25 submissions in July.

Graphic designer Darrell Lim, 34, who has attended previous editions of Archifest, is looking forward to this year's festival.

He says: "People unfamiliar with Archifest might assume that it's just about buildings and architects or very dry topics. But it has varied activities."

He is also looking forward to viewing the completed pavilion, which is now being erected. "I'm excited to see how the pavilion will transform the area."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2016, with the headline 'A fresh breath of architecture'. Print Edition | Subscribe