After being postponed by the pandemic, the President’s Design Award 2020, awarded the country’s highest design accolades to 11 recipients at the Istana, of which two practices received the Designer of the Year award and nine design projects received the Design of the Year award. 

Here are the nine outstanding projects:

Cloister House by Formwerkz Architects

This single-storey family home in Johor Bahru features a grid of rectangles with multiple courtyards that forms various cloisters unified by a visually arresting inverted pitched roof that brings natural daylight and ventilation while channelling the rain into the courtyards.

The PDA 2020 jury commended the architects for their innovative contemporary reinterpretation of a vernacular design often found in the tropics.

 “Luxury has always been tied to the idea of tall mansions, of certain sizes and home to fancy rooms. The single-storey house is almost always seen as inferior. But the Cloister House shows how you can still live richly and have a wealth of experiences within,” says architect Alan Tay, who helmed the project.  

Kampung Admiralty by WOHA Architects

The PDA accolade is another jewel in Kampung Admiralty’s crown. The project has won numerous international awards, including the title of World Building of the Year from the World Architecture Festival in 2018.

The HDB development reimagines Singapore’s traditional kampung for modern times by neatly combining 104 flats for the elderly, a medical centre, a senior care centre, a childcare centre and a 900-seat hawker centre into 11 levels imbued with biophilic design. 

“Kampung Admiralty’s success comes from the mix of programmes that supports ageing-in-place and the holistic integration of both the hardware (building) and the software (public programmes). I think Kampung Admiralty is a relevant prototype that can help other cities with ageing societies,” says architect Pearl Chee, who led the project at WOHA. 

Goodlife!Makan by DP Architects

Goodlife!Makan is a Senior Activity Centre (SAC) in Marine Terrace, which draws out stay-alone seniors to prepare daily meals for one another. The SAC transformed a void deck into a community kitchen and living room for seniors to prepare ingredients, cook meals and wash dishes.

Its interior is colour-coded to provide visual markers to help seniors from different languages and ethnic backgrounds communicate with one another, while its floor to ceiling glass front provides visual access to a broader environment and cross ventilation. The PDA jury was impressed by the project’s potential to scale up and help the elderly across the island. 

The Goodlife! Makan project, with its many features, encouraged some to step out and form social bonds with others, showing that design has the capacity to reframe the way the community sees seniors and the way they see themselves,” says architect Seah Chee Huang, who led the project at DP Architects. 

Sparkletots Large Preschool at Punggol by LAUD Architects

Designing a large-scale preschool for 1,000 is no small feat. LAUD Architects was praised by the PDA jury for reinventing the conventional childcare centre via a circular form that houses 36 classrooms and amenities neatly like a pizza that provides safety, security, inclusivity and fun spaces with outdoor elements that allow the children to be in touch with nature. 

“Designing for children lets us become children again – to see the world from their point of view and be inspired from our own childhood experiences,” says architect Ho Tzu Yin from LAUD Architects.

Etania Green School by Billion Bricks

This low-cost School in Sabah – built from five decommissioned containers, recycled timber, and corrugated iron roof – has made an impact in the lives of some essentially stateless 350 children of oil palm plantation migrant labourers since 2018.

Its flexible and open classrooms allow for experiential learning across age groups such that it has also become a community centre of the whole marginalised community. And at sundown, it runs on solar power.

The PDA jury praised it for exemplifying a high impact, low-cost model and hailed it as an impressive example of how design can catalyse social change by responding to humanitarian issues and cultivating a strong sense of belonging. 

The [Not-So] Convenience Store by Kinetic Singapore

This tongue-in-cheek exhibition takes the form of a convenient store, complete with fluorescent-lit interiors, catchy jingles and cheery corporate identity.

But look closer, and you’d notice that the various signs, labels and products sold in the store tell visitors how our culture of convenience is costing the environment. The shelves feature sustainable alternatives to convenient everyday products; price tags displaying the price of convenience paid by the environment; a freezer repurposed as a recycling bin; and an Employees of the Month photo wall featuring sustainability champions and influencers.

The PDA jury applauded the exhibition’s original concept and hailed it as a strong and efficient vehicle for the message of sustainability without being preachy. 


The brainchild of the founder of visual art magazine Kult, EYEYAH! is a multimedia learning platform that uses magazines, toolkits, workshops, exhibitions and even an app to teach children important social, environmental, and economic topics like fake news and food security in palatable and engaging formats.

The platform’s team collaborates with creatives around the world to offer a global perspective and nurture creative thinking. The PDA jury commended its humorous yet sophisticated use of design and its huge potential for global impact. 

Airmesh Pavilion by Airlab at SUTD and Zhejiang University 

Displayed at Gardens by the Bay for its Mid Autumn Festival in 2019, the AirMesh Pavilion is a futuristic structure inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns that are made of 3D-printed stainless steel components – a world’s first.

“There was also no material wastage during fabrication because 3D printing is an additive process,” says Professor Carlon Banon, who helmed the project at SUTD.

“This small pavilion unlocks immense possibilities for sustainable construction and future architectural designs like transportation hubs, large span roofs and even skyscrapers.”

Jewel Changi Airport by Safdie Architects and RSP Architects Planners & Engineers

Like Kampung Admiralty, Jewel Changi Airport is one of Singapore’s recent architectural landmarks that have won global recognition.

Jewel redefines the notion of transit spaces, and represents a new hybrid typology that combines retail spaces, passenger conveniences, and a garden within a climate-controlled enclosure.

The PDA jury applauded the project for placing Singapore firmly on the world traveller’s map.