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‘No More Free Space?’ Asks the Returning Singapore Pavilion

A Celebration of Singaporean Creativity Turning Constraints into Possibilities Opens to the Public from 17 May to 30 June
  Published: 17 May 2019

Is there truly no more free space in Singapore? That is the question the Singapore Pavilion from the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia asks. A response to the overarching theme of Freespace, set by the Biennale curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara.

Entitled, ‘No More Free Space?’ the exhibit tells the story of how, in spite of the limitations in physical space, Singapore-based architects, urban planners, and place-makers have creatively found ways to bring delightful free spaces to the city's everyday life. 

During its 6-month long run at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, the Singapore Pavilion received over 70,000 visitors. Returning from the Sale d’Armi, Arsenale in Venice, the restaged exhibition will run from 17 May till 30 June 2019 at the National Design Centre.

Set against the backdrop of Singapore’s compact urban environment, ‘No More Free Space?’ features 12 Singapore-based projects that showcase the resourcefulness of the architects, their inspirations and realization of ideas. All whilst borrowing natural resources such as light, air, greenery, and water.

Each of the 12 projects featured shows imagination, openness, discovery, and resolution to turn constraints into possibilities. Taking it one step further, the projects also reflect how architecture can tap into social capital to bring joy and connect individuals to the larger community.

The centrepiece of the Singapore Pavilion features an immersive installation, an ethereal cloud made of skilfully handcrafted acrylic knots gently suspended in mid-air that envelopes visitors to the pavilion. Complete with a multi-sensory projection of lights, sounds, images, and even scents, visitors find themselves immersed in the spaces within the cloud - in itself an example of a resourceful, unexpected free space.

In conjunction with the restaging of the exhibition, a design forum will be held featuring architects and designers from the curated projects, who will discuss their inspirations behind the projects they worked on.

Additionally, the public are also invited to participate in a clay hand-building workshop, where local studio Usually Usual will showcase the process behind preparing 100 handcrafted Jurong ceramic tubes for the biennale.

Prof Erwin Viray, Lead Curator and Head of the Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar at SUTD says, “The exhibit stands as a testament to how the creative freedom of the mind has the power to turn constraints into a myriad of alternative possibilities”

He adds, “Singapore is such a unique country, a multi-ethnic, multicultural, island city-state with a burgeoning population on a land area of just 720 km2. Its dense urban fabric has to support a multitude of uses and needs within demanding constraints. We hope that the exhibit will elicit a greater appreciation of the urban environment that we work and play in every day, and perhaps even spur the imagination of what is possible in spite of the limitations.” 

Commissioned by the DesignSingapore Council (Dsg), and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and curated by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) in collaboration with the National University of Singapore’s department of Architecture (NUS), ‘No More Free Space?’ was the country’s sixth showcase at the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia since 2004.

“Architecture can have a significant impact on the quality of life in any community as it can communicate memory, values and even a sense of place. The current built environment in Singapore is unique and reflective of our rich history and culture, combined with a modern sensitivity and modern dynamism. Through the showcase in Venice and now back home, we continue to celebrate the beautiful, quality buildings and public spaces that our architects have designed to enhance the city-scape,” said Larry Ng, Co-Commissioner of the Singapore Pavilion, Urban Redevelopment Authority.

“The Singapore Pavilion in Venice is a powerful platform to tell the Singapore story of how we, as a people, have not allowed constraints to limit our imagination. Instead, we’ve had the mental ‘free space’ to re-imagine what our compact city could be and used design deliberately to create better and more loveable places for everyone. We hope its homecoming will inspire the next generation of designers to use the power of design just as impactfully,” said Mark Wee, Executive Director, DesignSingapore Council.

For more information on the restaging of the Singapore Pavilion, please refer to the Annex A [PDF, 160kb] and Annex B [PDF, 200kb] or visit: www.nomorefreespace.com.