Jackie Chan-donated houses take centrestage in SUTD beam-raising ceremony

Visitors and staff of SUTD taking pictures of antique structures donated to the school by Jackie Chan after the beam-raising ceremony at its new campus. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
Visitors and staff of SUTD taking pictures of antique structures donated to the school by Jackie Chan after the beam-raising ceremony at its new campus. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

A beam-raising ceremony was held at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to mark the completion of the structural frames of two houses donated by Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan.

The event on Tuesday is the equivalent of the topping-out ceremony for modern buildings and is a ritual carried out for traditional Chinese structures. Practised by master craftsmen in China, the practice is a highlight of the construction process as it signifies the completion of the timber frame.

The ritual also has to take place on an auspicious day. It involves having a craftsman offering incense and toasting Chinese liqueur to the deities of carpentry before reciting auspicious sayings while the beam is raised to the timber frame for installation.

Both the antique houses Da Tong and Du Zhe, built side by side, will be used as events spaces for students and staff once the finishing touches are completed by the end of the year.

In 2009, famed action star Chan expressed interest in donating his personal collection of four antique structures. Apart from the houses, SUTD also received a traditional Chinese opera stage and a pavilion. The structures of both were completed earlier in January this year.

SUTD Board of Trustee Tai Lee Siang said having such structures in place would provide its students a "global outlook" by being exposed to cultures both past and present. He added: "It serves as a reminder of how people in traditional culture conceptualise and build such buildings."