A knack for building welcoming community spaces and the ability to employ green design have emerged as two key qualities of Singapore's new generation of architects.
Take the work of Mr Lawrence Ler, 39, who led the team behind the popular Henderson Waves Bridge.
Since it opened 10 years ago, the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore has become a popular area for the community to gather. Part of the attraction is its eye-catching structure, which weaves across Telok Blangah Hill and Mount Faber.
Mr Ler, who is with RSP Architects Planners and Engineers, was part of a new crop of architects identified yesterday for creating quality urban environments under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) "20 Under 45" initiative. There were 56 architects vying for the 20 spots.
The scheme, now in its third edition, recognises 20 locally registered architects under the age of 45 who have contributed towards "shaping a distinctive and highly liveable city".
URA chief executive Lim Eng Hwee said: "These 20 architects have contributed towards our iconic architecture. Their sensitive environmental and community-centric approach to designing our built environment contributes towards our vision for a distinctive and liveable city."
Mr Ler said the success of Henderson Waves Bridge sparked off his desire to create more community-centric spaces. His portfolio includes the ITE Headquarters and ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio.
GOING BACK TO BASICS
The approach is very apt, as much as it is heartening to see Singapore architecture defining and being defined by community engagement, inclusiveness, and the celebration of everyday life by common folk.''
MR TAN SHAO YEN, president of the Board of Architects and one of the six panellists, on the design of Redhill's Enabling Village.
He added that being named among the nation's elite architects is "very affirming". "The scheme is a good platform to recognise good design in Singapore that can transform lives and communities," he said.
Other community-centric projects include Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, designed by Mr Jerry Ong, and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital by Mr Tang Kai Vern.
Redhill's Enabling Village by Mr Phua Hong Wei was also praised for its reinterpretation of Singapore's "modern tropical language of lines, shades, integration with landscape with a rustic, back to basic, and kampung-ish flavour", said Mr Tan Shao Yen, president of the Board of Architects and one of the six panellists.
The Enabling Village is a community space that combines retail, lifestyle and training to better integrate disabled people.
Mr Tan said: "The approach is very apt, as much as it is heartening to see Singapore architecture defining and being defined by community engagement, inclusiveness, and the celebration of everyday life by common folk."
The 20 Under 45 initiative is also a platform for the architects' work to be showcased.
Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, officiated the event at the URA Centre Atrium and launched an exhibition on the architects and their work.
He said: "The work that architects do is important and it has a very real impact on the lives of Singaporeans.
"Poorly designed cities can easily become a high-rise concrete jungle that is stressful to live and work in, whereas well-designed buildings, homes, neighbourhoods with greenery and public spaces can improve our well-being and happiness."
The URA scheme began in 2004, with a second set of architects named in 2010. The URA noted that the architects from these editions have gone on to receive awards and professional recognition.
It also said it would open the Archi-Model Centre on the ground floor of the URA Centre in Maxwell Road. It will feature an architecture library and a gallery to showcase works by small, medium-sized and up-and-coming practices. The centre is expected to be ready next July.