SINGAPORE - An exhaustive body of work in visual communications, "skyrise" public housing, a public school in Sabah carved out of shipping containers and a tropical urban village for seniors have won Singapore's highest honours in design.
The President's Design Award 2020 was conferred by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana today (June 30) to two Designers Of The Year and nine Designs Of The Year for contributing to economic, cultural and community transformation, raising quality of life and making ground-breaking achievements in design.
"The common thread that runs through good design is the improvement it brings to our quality of life," said guest of honour Madam Halimah at the biennial award's presentation. "All of this year's award recipients have accomplished this through their creative, thoughtful and empathetic designs. Each award-winning project is a unique testimony to how design can be used to empower lives, uplift communities and propel innovation."
The awards are jointly handed out by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and DesignSingapore Council (DSG). Established in 2006, the PDA was previously an annual affair but was relaunched as a biennial award in 2017.
Recipients of the Designer Of The Year award, Mr Khoo Peng Beng and Ms Belinda Huang, a husband-and-wife architect team and directors of ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism were recognised for developing socially meaningful, community-focused projects and for their outstanding contributions in mentoring and developing young and aspiring architects. The duo's design for Pinnacle @ Duxton, Singapore's first 50-storey public housing development, showed how "superdensity" developments can offer new ways of living up in the air.
The other Designer Of The Year award went to Ms Kelley Cheng, creative director of The Press Room, who won acclaim for her outstanding body of work encompassing visual communications, publishing and exhibition design and also for tirelessly working to champion and nurture Singapore's creative community.
A total of 129 submissions across various disciplines such as architecture, interior design, visual communications, educational and user experience, spatial design and engineering were received, reflecting the critical role of design in shaping how communities live, learn, work and play.
Executive director of DSG Mark Wee said that this cycle of the President's Design Award takes place amid an unusually trying time when societies and economies are in flux.
"The turbulent changes are a stark reminder that as designers, we can serve a higher purpose by seeking to solve societal challenges to create a better world," said Mr Wee.
"This year's recipients exemplify design's ability to transform, improve and touch the lives of people from all walks of life. We hope others will be inspired by these projects and see how good design can create a brighter, better future."
The nine projects which were conferred the Design of the Year award are:
• Sparkletots Large Preschool at Punggol by architects Ho Tzu Yin and Matthew Yeo from Laud Architects, in providing a safe and inclusive space to learn and play by reinventing the conventional notion of a childcare facility;
• Kampung Admiralty designed by architects Wong Mun Summ and Pearl Chee from Woha Architects, and Goodlife! Makan, by architect Seah Chee Huang from DP Architects, in creating spaces that reintegrate Singapore's silver generation with the community and revitalise their golden years;
• Cloister House, by Alan Tay and Seetoh Kum Loon from Formwerkz Architects, which reinterprets the tropical courtyard house to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing building;
• Etania Green School, by Prasoon Kumar and Robert Verrijt from Billion Bricks Ltd, a source for experiential learning as well as a place of pride and dignity for the stateless children and community in Sabah in Malaysia;
• EYEYAH! by Steve Lawler and Tanya Wilson, which empowers children with creative and problem-solving skills through visual communications not just in Singapore, but in the United Kingdom and the United States;
• The [NOT-SO]Convenience Store, by Astri Nursalim from Kinetic Singapore, a tongue-in-cheek exhibition designed to spark discussions about the cost of the culture of convenience on the environment;
• Jewel Changi Airport, by Moshe Safdie from Safdie Architects as well as architectural firm RSP, as an architectural feat which has propelled Singapore to the world stage by redefining what an air transit hub should look like;
• AirMesh Pavilion, led by Professor Carlos Banon from the Architectural Intelligence Research Lab (Airlab) at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), in exploring the future of construction through pushing the boundaries of 3D printing.
Ms Yap Lay Bee, URA group director of architecture and urban design, said that the 2020 award recipients and projects demonstrated responsiveness to environmental and community outcomes.
"This is testament to the pertinent role that architects play in creating places that inspire the community, drive connections and break social barriers. This results in well-designed buildings and spaces that aren't just attractive, but also sustainable and beneficial for generations to come."
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Read the full report and interviews on the President's Design Award 2020 in The Straits Times Life section on Friday (July 2) online and in print on Saturday (July 3)