14 May 2011

55 Singapore Colorful Songlines

Singapore is a soulless place..

All modern urbanism ideologies which failed to work anywhere else in the world, became a reality here. The reality that is somehow like a dream - a soulless utopia dream.

The whole city is feeling as if it was a collective gigantic projects of architecture/urban design students - optimistic almost naive about how the (rest of the) world works - but it is real. It has been like this for decades.

Last weekend in Singapore, I began to notice something new after being there several times. Many brutal hyper-modern housings in the city center are transformed. The greyscale color of modernism scheme was replaced by super bright almost eye-sore colors.

People's Park Complex from 1960s. According to wikipedia, the original finishing material was exposed raw concrete. But it was perhaps too brutally modern... The green and maroon colors are quite brutal in a different way though. But perhaps now, it is time when people speak a bit in this quiet country.

This building is close to Singapore Art Museum where the art biennale was held. The super modernist architectural language is transformed by the two shades of blue...

The neighbor of the blue building went even more extreme to the combination of super bright red and heavy orange with mural giant mural painting...

Even the so elegant hyper modern building of Bras Basah Complex next to National Library and Raffles Hotel could not escape the bright blue trimming lines all around...

The towers are so modern, so elegant...However the blue strikes.

A part of the podium is a commercial space where all the book stores are. (We love Basheer Graphic Books here.)

The trimming lines and planes somehow lessen the brutality and sleekness of modernism. Perhaps the city was so filled with all the coldness of modernism that it is time to be more lively.

Once (4-5 years ago) I was at a lecture of Tay Kheng Soon, who is one of the Singaporean pioneer architects (he was partnered with William Lim and Koh Seow Shuan for a design office which nowadays is DP architects). The old architect mentioned that modern architecture beauty (perhaps especially in Singapore) was composed of all industrial almost inhuman surfaces of raw concrete, steel, glass and etc. It was so machine-like that people who dwelled there became closer to a machine than a human. (Well this could be the case of Singapore?). Perhaps, Singapore has already attained all modernism living environment aspects, and felt something missing --> now it is time to go wild!

Another story but somehow relevant, visiting Singapore without meeting the famous lion is a big shame. After 3-4 times of visiting Singapore, finally I had my first photograph with the beast. Thanks to Singapore Art Biennale for a cool project of Merlion Hotel by an artist/architect Tatzu Nishi, that finally we had a chance to get that close with the beast (we also secretly touched him when nobody saw us -_-"). I am quite certain that we would never be this close again with the lion who usually is in the middle of the water. (Well, please do not argue what is so significant of being so close to him, that is another story though.)

At least, finally, for the first time, I had 'fun' in Singapore. Perhaps, the city has really changed!

P.S. Thanks for Chai who was our 'local' of the trip - a cool architect/urbanist. You can find him here too.