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Architect Law Yoke Foong shares about Singapore’s architecture and design scene

RSP Architect Law Yoke Foong

Law Yoke Foong, director at RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, shares her thoughts on Singapore’s architecture and design scene, and on her role as judge and mentor for the Asia Young Designers Award (AYDA) — a regional design competition that seeks to nurture the next generation of young architects and interior designers to design with a social purpose.

Aspiring Designers

Participating in the AYDA for the first time, I find it a great platform for young aspiring architects to showcase their designs and learn from industry experts. I am personally impressed by the standard of the submissions. The designs offered fresh perspectives, are innovative and even quite adventurous, but the winner of the architectural category bagged the Gold award with a simple design solution for the Everyman – in this case a commonplace vendor in Hanoi and his tube house (Singapore’s equivalent of a shophouse). The simple solution of adapting its use for modern living involved harnessing technology to ensure the building form responds to different climatic conditions. I was given the opportunity to mentor the winner, as she competed in the regional round of AYDA. It is my desire to give back to the design community through imparting experience and knowledge, and inspiring the younger generation to strive hard to improve the design landscape in Singapore.

Evolution of Architecture

The built environment sector is focused more than ever on the environmental impact of buildings. Given the greater emphasis on environmental sustainability, architects have to design building solutions that are more efficient and green. The local industry is also facing more challenges now as compared to 10 years ago, with issues like land scarcity, tighter permitting requirements and competition from foreign architects. Social issues have evolved over the years. As architects, we need to design responsible spaces, which are sensitive to them. Architecture may not solve social issues, but can address the social aspect of our built environment. Architecture should, first and foremost, adopt a place-making approach. When designing a solution, it should not be about aesthetics, but rather a design that resonates with the way we live, work and play. It should work well for end users, allowing them to adapt and customise the space, and in so doing, give a sense of meaning and connection.

A Bright Future

Today’s designers have access to information through the Internet – more so than what we had years ago. Millennials also readily embrace new technology such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and incorporate them in their design processes. Conceptualisation of design is no longer limited to the conventional pen and paper, but has transcended them with the use of software that provide 360-degree solutions. While technology is an enabler, we must always remember that design remains very much a human-centric activity. What drives good design is still our thought process, sense of aesthetics and, most importantly, our desire for it to be accessible and meaningful.

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