Obituary

Architecture expert chronicled Singapore's urbanisation

Professor Norman Edwards, a significant contributor to the discourse on Singapore's urbanisation, has died at the age of 87.

The architecture expert, an associate professor in the school of architecture and academic head at the National University of Singapore in the 1980s, died of natural causes on Feb 9 in Kew, London.

During his nine years in Singapore, the Australian contributed several articles on urban planning to the now-defunct Singapore Monitor newspaper.

In one of his articles from 1985, he wrote: "Indeed, while Singapore has been strenuously imitating so-called Western forms of architecture - modern glossy, glassy tower blocks, huge air-conditioned atrium spaces - the West has largely gone the other way - it is preserving its older buildings."

The late Prof Edwards, who grew up as an only child in Sydney during World War II, studied architecture at Sydney University.

He taught at various universities, including the University of Sydney, MITand Taiwan's Tunghai University.

The father-of-four is the author of The Singapore House And Residential Life, 1819-1939 (1990), which was reprinted last year, and co-wrote Singapore: A Guide To Buildings, Streets, Places (1988) with Peter Keys. His last completed book, Modern Architecture, The Human World, has not been published yet.

He is survived by his wife, artist Robyn Edwards, and their children.

Daughter Gisele Edwards, an aerialist, musician and theatre-maker, told The Straits Times yesterday that her father "went very easily". "He was talking with my mother over lunch, and he just passed," she said.

Ms Edwards said her father was passionate about his work but also a family man.

He was "quite strict", and "always admired and reminded us of Asian family values and Confucianism".

She added: "He instilled in me, among many things... a conviction in one's passion, a way of seeing the world, a love of Bauhaus, of jazz, an appreciation for space, form and a pleasure in one's physical environment. "

A private family funeral was held last month and a memorial will take place in Kew on Saturday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2018, with the headline 'Architecture expert chronicled Singapore's urbanisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe