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to gather : The Architecture of Relationships opens to public


Singapore Pavilion

at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia

  Published: 21 May 2021

The Singapore Pavilion officially opens at its seventh showcase at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. Commissioned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and curated by the National University of Singapore (NUS), the exhibition returns to the Sale d’Armi at the Arsenale in Venice, Italy, and will run from 22 May to 21 November 2021. Entitled to gather: The Architecture of Relationships, the exhibition responds to Biennale curator Hashim Sarkis’ overarching theme and question — ‘How Will We Live Together?”.

The Singapore Pavilion was officially inaugurated on Friday, 21 May 2021 by Mr Desmond Lee, Singapore’s Minister for National Development, at a virtual launch event.

“Indeed, now more than ever, we must pay close attention to the interplay between human spaces and human connections. We must rise above the challenges and strengthen our social fabric,” said Mr Lee. “By creatively re-examining our built environment, we can continue to design new places and spaces that strengthen our societal fabric. This will help us emerge stronger from this pandemic. Together with the Biennale, we stand in solidarity with the global architectural fraternity to encourage architects locally and globally to strive for more inspirational designs that reflect an architecture of relationships.”

Pulling together everyday stories from Singapore’s urban fabric, to gather explores unique local spatial typologies that have emerged from Singapore’s dense urban population, and established distinctively Singaporean modes of gathering and living. Communal spaces like void decks1 , hawker centres2  and community hubs describe the different scales in which design has meaningfully contributed to public social life.

In this year’s edition, 16 built and speculative architecture, art and design projects by local architects and creatives are presented on round tables reminiscent of the spatial configuration of hawker centres. At each table, visitors can explore how each of these projects encourage the forming of relationships, improve the quality of the built environment and forge new spatial contracts in the city.

The four Pavilion subthemes, each with four corresponding projects, help to further expand these ideas. Communing Relationships examines how collective histories and memories can be preserved whilst inspiring new modes of coming together. Centred around the built structures, Framing Relationships explores how different communities and individuals work and live within a single space. Uncovering Relationships emphasises multi-sensorial interactions amongst people and our surroundings. Last but not least, Imagining Relationships speculates a future based on our conjoined relationship with digital technology.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been changes in the ways individuals and communities interact with one another and their surrounding built environments. Over the past year, Singapore and her residents have proven resilient and adaptable in responding to the shifting spatial arrangements. Local architects, designers and creatives have also taken this opportunity to critically reflect on how good design plays an important role in establishing safe, healthy and inclusive spaces.

In addition to the physical staging of the Singapore Pavilion in Venice, the 16 projects will also be showcased via the Pavilion’s website and social media channels.  Both international and local audiences are invited to view the curated content and participate in upcoming programmes. The Singapore Pavilion is also expected to be restaged locally in 2022, with more details to be announced in due course.

For more information, visit www.to-gather.sg, or the Singapore Pavilion’s Instagram and Facebook pages at https://www.instagram.com/to.gather.2021/  and www.facebook.com/to.gather.2021/

Annex A [PDF, 34kb]:  About the Singapore Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia
Annex B [PDF, 80kb]:  Curatorial Statement
Annex C [PDF, 79kb]:  About the Curators
Annex D [PDF, 471kb]:  About the Projects

In Singapore, void decks are sheltered, open spaces at the ground floor of high-rise public apartment blocks.

2 Hawker centres are public open-air, cooked food centres in Singapore that offer a variety of different cuisines. In 2020, Hawker culture in Singapore was added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Culture and Heritage of Humanity.