The annual Archifest to be held all over Singapore

Stills from the 2016 film, Subterranean Singapore 2065 (right) at the Subterranean Singapore exhibition - part of Archifest - at Golden Mile Tower.
Stills from the 2016 film, Subterranean Singapore 2065 (above) at the Subterranean Singapore exhibition - part of Archifest - at Golden Mile Tower.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Funds for the main pavilion at Archifest re-channelled so that festival can cover a wide range of subject matter

The Archifest pavilion is usually a crowd favourite and the highlight of Archifest - the annual public festival celebrating architecture.

But this year, when the festival returns for its 11th edition from Wednesday to Oct 15, there will be no eye-catching structuresuch as the rainbow pavilion at Raffles Place last year or the pavilion made of 3,885 plastic stools the year before.

Doing away with the pavilion is part of efforts by organiser Singapore Institute of Architects to ensure that the focus - as well as funds - are shared more evenly across events and attractions at the festival.

Previous pavilions were built based on a winning design submitted by architectural firms, says festival director H. Koon Wee, who is the founder of Hong Kong-and Shanghai-based architecture collective Skew Collaborative.

"Instead of spending the money to build one architect's work, we decided to redistribute the available funds as broadly as possible," he adds.

This is also tied to this year's "Building Agency" theme, which hopes to spread the idea that architecture should serve the public, who in turn should play a part in shaping its built environment.

"Because the making of architecture involves large sums of money and mobilises massive resources, architects are often pressured to serve predominantly the patron or client who pays, even to the extent of compromising on the needs of the broader public," says Mr Wee.

  • VIEW IT /ARCHIFEST 2017

  • WHERE: Various locations

    WHEN: Wednesday to Oct 15, various times

    ADMISSION: Free unless stated otherwise

    INFO: www.archifest.sg

"Therefore, it has become the duty of architects to make a bridge back to the people and the society they are supposed to serve."

This year's festival will cover a wide range of subject matter that aims to encourage people from all walks of life to see themselves as agents of their built environment.

For instance, an exhibition titled Architecture & Photography Of The Pioneer Generation shows buildings from the perspective of the pioneer generation, while Migrant Art And Making Shadows: Two Exhibitions depicts public spaces through the eyes of migrant workers.

Subterranean Singapore is an exhibition of works by architecture studio Zarch Collaboratives' designer Finbarr Fallon. Combining architectural design, digital animation and photography, the free exhibition at Golden Mile Tower speculates on the possibilities of underground space.

Other highlights include The Great Architectural Bake-Off, which will take place at co-working space The Working Capitol in Keong Saik Road on Oct 14, where some of Singapore's top architects and designers will compete to recreate the world's iconic buildings using cake.

There are also curated Architours exploring Singapore's hidden architectural gems; An Eye For Details, an architecture photography workshop by award-winning Singapore photographer Darren Soh; and a series of talks on topics such as Women In Architecture and The Future Is Now.

For the little ones, there will be activities such as ArKID Build (Oct 6 and 7), a build-your-own-city workshop; and Urban Mural: Live! (Oct 8), a mural painting activity.

Children's Day, a holiday for kids, falls on Oct 6 when the festival is ongoing.

Archifest drew 128,500 visitors last year due to the pavilion being situated in Raffles Place, an accessible location. This year, a turnout of 40,000 is expected, similar to years in which there were no pavilions.

Corporate communications executive Loh Wai Yi, 24, who has been a regular Archifest attendee for the past four years, was surprised to hear that there would be no pavilion.

"It feels a bit different. However, I understand there are a lot of different areas of focus this year, which diverges from the design-centric focus of the previous years," she adds.

"The aim might be to reach out to different communities in different places. There are also a lot of crossovers with other genres such as film. I think that will make it interesting this year, without an actual pavilion."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2017, with the headline 'Architecture for all'. Print Edition | Subscribe