National Design Centre vying for top award

Contenders of the Riba International Prize include (clockwise from top left) the King Fahd National Library in Saudi Arabia, Singapore's National Design Centre and Australia's Cabbage Tree House.
Contenders of the Riba International Prize include the King Fahd National Library in Saudi Arabia.PHOTO: KING FAHD NATIONAL LIBRARY/INSTAGRAM
Contenders of the Riba International Prize include Singapore's National Design Centre.
Contenders of the Riba International Prize include Singapore's National Design Centre.PHOTO: SCDA ARCHITECTS
Contenders of the Riba International Prize include (clockwise from top left) the King Fahd National Library in Saudi Arabia, Singapore's National Design Centre and Australia's Cabbage Tree House.
Contenders of the Riba International Prize include Australia's Cabbage Tree House.PHOTO: #PETERSTUTCHBURYARCHITECTURE/ INSTAGRAM

Middle Road building is one of 62 contenders for the coveted Royal Institute of British Architects International Prize

Singapore's National Design Centre aims to nurture budding designers so that they can flex their wings and take full flight.

Now, it has earned a feather in its own cap.

The facility - which provides assistance from the national agency for design, DesignSingapore Council - is in the running for one of the world's most prestigious architecture awards, given by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba).

The centre is among 62 buildings from 29 countries competing for the 2018 Riba International Prize for the best new or recently completed buildings.

It is not the first time that the Middle Road building has caught the eye after it opened in 2014.

It was a finalist for a World Architecture Festival award in the same year in the Completed Buildings New And Old category.

The building has a long and distinguished history, housing St Anthony's Convent (1879 to 1994), the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (1995 to 2004) and Chinese Opera Institute (1995 to 2009).

In 2011, local firm SCDA Architects was tasked to take the building to another level.

According to the National Design Centre portal, the main design feature has been the addition of four cantilevering and overlapping translucent "boxes" within a central covered atrium.

These metal screened boxes connect the gallery and meeting spaces on the upper floors.

Announcing the list of contenders recently, Riba said "the prize (not only brings) international attention to the most inspirational and significant new buildings created across the globe, but also to a range of the industry's leading talents, and the visionary clients that have commissioned these buildings".

The 62 contenders include the Cabbage Tree House in Australia, King Fahd National Library in Saudi Arabia and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, Portugal.

In this region, six candidates from China and one from Malaysia have made the longlist.

Riba's International Prize, which is handed out every two years, is run in conjunction with the Union Internationale des Architectes, an international organisation based in Switzerland that represents the world's architects.

The winner will be announced in December.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'National Design Centre vying for top award'. Print Edition | Subscribe