The Archifest (Singapore Architecture Festival) is an annual festival for the city to celebrate architecture and the built environment. Archifest is a platform for all walks of life to discuss, debate and deliberate architectural issues. Participants will find themselves engaging in uninhibited dialogue, creative collaborations and a constant exchange of ideas.
The main aim of the festival is to provide a platform to breed a vibrant design culture, and consequently a design-conscious society, by encouraging and guiding the general public and design professionals of all fields to interact in a fun and free atmosphere.
a) Promote the importance of architecture and design
Archifest strives to promote the importance of architecture and urban design, which are playing an increasingly important role in the global competition among cities. It will foster a sense of community to harness the common goals and vision towards the making of an exciting Singapore, by bringing together the architects, planners and associated professionals to share and exchange ideas.
b) Foster a sense of community among professionals
A city of excellence requires a creative community of architects, planners and associated professionals. The sense of community is needed to harness common goals and vision towards the making of an exciting Singapore. Archifest brings allied professionals together to share future directions.
c) Educate and engage the public and students in city planning & architecture
The creation of a city of excellence does not only depend on the professional bodies but also the public in general. Another key group of target audience is the future professionals – students from Institute of higher learning. The myriad of activities aims to educate and engage the general public, as well as enthuse and motivate students, who are key in shaping the society and culture, in city planning and architecture.
Introduced in 2012 and taking the place of the annual exhibition, the design of the Archifest Pavilion is a temporary, outdoor recreational venue for a comfortable, unique and multi-sensorial experience of the city to be enjoyed by everyone
The Archifest Forum was rebranded to the Archifest Conference in 2013 to signify a shift in ambition. The Conference is a day full of shared experiences and ideas, a roundtable discussion of issues pertinent to our urban environment.
Immerse in the rich atmosphere of Singapore’s architectural environment, both old and new, and rediscover the hidden interesting spaces around Singapore. Architours promise an exclusive access into the architectural gems of Singapore as participants are brought closer to these projects. Get behind-the-scenes with the architects who brought them to life, as they share their insights on the processes of design and construction.
iv) Partner Events
Partner Events comprises of pop-up stores, talks, seminars and exhibitions in relation to the annual theme. These fringe activities were mostly organised within the pavilion itself. These fringe partners ranged from creatives to designers and from local retail shops to non-profit organisations.
Using Archifest as a platform, these fringe events showcase existing enthusiast groups and movements in Singapore and what they do for the local communities. Hosting them at this festival, the act of bringing them together features a diverse form of Collective Intelligence where they are able to share their ideas and inspire people to make a change as well.
“Design Evidence” is a tagline, a methodology and an inquisitive attitude towards the way we relate the complex parameters of our world to the creative process of designing it. In 2021 and beyond, a post-crisis society needs an Architecture that leaves nothing to accident, chance or conjecture, yet one that has the elasticity of objectively learning from
its past whilst engaging intuition. This year’s Archifest will probe the holistic value of Architecture, and the breadth of roles and scope that architects and architectural knowledge can take, far beyond traditional practice models.
By assessing our fundamental tools and creative process, “Design Evidence” will anchor the production of architecture in knowledge that is deemed current and relevant while challenging the notion that architecture is mainly about subjective aesthetic preference, personal opinion or artistic license.
Ultimately, the notion of tangible, visible “evidence” also opens up the dialogue to related professions, regulatory bodies and the broader public in an inclusive way, promoting accountability in the way design is being generated, evaluated and enjoyed.
Lastly, Archifest seeks to demystify the design process by testing the limitations of quantifiable data as a generative design tool and teasing out the potential of unquantifiable qualities and creative intuition.
This year, we needed a theme that is simple and bold, yet positive and light-hearted for a sense of optimism, a foil to the crises that our world faces.
“Our world” means different things to different people: to a child it could be a classroom or a school, to a young family it could be their new home: to others it could be their beloved neighborhood to planners (and some DC superheroes) it could be the city, and to more and more people it is our planet, this World. Crucially a world worth saving.
“Architecture Saving OUR World” is not about grand architecture or the magnificence of architecture, but new ideas and responsible designs that benefit our ecology and humanity – climate change, public health, social equity and cultural continuity. Some of these have yet to make their way into mainstream architecture, but there is no lack of the spirit of ‘creative activism’ within the profession, creating concepts and testing postulations.
Throughout the ages, architecture had been synonymous with the bespoke. Architects work like artisans through crafting space and form, to develop deep understandings of materiality and techniques that often reflect the genius loci.
Today, discussions on the position of ‘Craft’ are relevant as the landscape of practice and construction is rapidly evolving. If its broadest definition is about precision that demands laborious attention and skilled handwork, where would we fit it within the reality of fast-paced and increasingly ‘mass-produced and consumed’ architectural work?
While we wish to focus on the role of craft in the discourse of architecture, the theme has the potential to encompass far more. The current maker culture leverages highly on open-source and technology, hence challenging the longstanding artisan mode of production. Though this new approach democratises and demystifies what used to be only exclusive to a few, it does raise questions on equity and ethics. Moreover, the act of crafting can also take on a psychological dimension through the way architecture shapes mind, behaviour and lives of our community.
As a baseline, this year’s festival wishes to honour and recognise those among us that have dedicated a lifetime in perfecting their craft in both the making of the physical and the betterment of lives. Though it may not be the direct answer to global issues, craft does indeed bring about a sense of awe and joy – elements vital to being human. Through the series of master lectures, panel discussions, exhibitions, tours and workshops, we wish to engage the fraternity, academics, agencies and public alike to join us in the understanding of craft.
Design for Life is a theme which broadly encompasses the Architect’s vision to respond to the true needs of humanity. It is necessary for design to give back to the community and enrich human life as a whole. The main theme is elaborated in 3 sub-themes: Design for People, Design for Time and Design for Environment.
Design for People promotes better life & well-being. Much of the spotlight of Architecture has been shone on iconic, spectacular projects, while the day-to-day architecture sits in its shadows. Designing for the 99% may not be the most glamorous, but it certainly is a celebration of the non-spectacular. Community engagement in the design-stage also has the potential for far-reaching effects, creating spaces which promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.
Design for Time addresses the lifespan of building design. The preservation of Modern architecture is likened to a time capsule of the past, however, a conscious effort has to be made to maintain buildings in their current state to slow down the process of deterioration. Designing for the long-haul also requires a new kind of Architecture which is in constant evolution over time, and is not just static until it is demolished.
Design for Environment enhances the life of our planet, flora and fauna. The excessive use of plastic in Singapore and the rest of the world has taken a tow on the ecosystem and accelerated global warming. Architects now have the responsibility to conceive and initiate ways to promote true sustainability by devising smart solutions to reduce our strain on the environment and to use materials prudently.
This year’s theme, Building Agency, emphasized the facilitating and building up of agency and citizen participation through architecture. It foregrounded the agency of buildings as important materials and spaces of urban life and was about an empowerment of the people as active agents in the making of our built environment.
Architecture, in terms of building, is typically understood as a container of space and activities, as receptacles of memories and aspirations. It has been presented as a monument to an idea or an ideal, a symbol for a collective. The highly mediatized events, socio-political and economic shifts of the last decade have reinforced yet challenged these long-held notions of architecture and inadvertently impacted the practice and the education of the architect. Alongside increasing specialization of expertise and digitization of scopes of work, the collaborative nature of architectural practice has come to the fore. New multi-disciplinary practices have emerged, predicated on the energies of collaboration and networking in which architectural knowledge and design is crucial but not necessarily central. In advanced societies, architects, urban designers and planners grapple with the escalating cries of the people – often through interests groups and activists – for more engaging, meaningful and inclusive public spaces, and still respond to state regulations on urban vigilance.
Inspired by the SG50 festivities, Archifest 2015 took on the theme of “What Future?”. It was curated to encourage the public’s reflection on the progress we have made thus far, and to imagine the future for our city. The common perception seems to point towards an inevitable correlation between the density of a city and the pace of life. Yet, the swift daily city life may not be suitable for every one of us. Even for those who enjoy and thrive under these conditions, there will be moments when one feels breathless, leading the committee to embark on the theme ‘Exhale’ in Archifest 2016.
Exhale examines the rapid pace of life that is often associated with a dense city.
Exhale questions the city’s ability to accommodate people who are searching for a different tempo.
Exhale challenges the inhabitants of the city to dictate their own rhythm of life.
The theme “What Future?” seeks to encourage Singaporeans to look ahead and imagine the possibilities and opportunities we collectively face as we celebrate the nation’s 50th year of independence. The subject matter manifested itself as a series of questions posed by the myriad of activities, through which participants could envisage their own interpretation of the future of architecture.
The festival opened up the discussion to investigate how the notion of “CROWD” operates and contributes to architecture and urbanism through a collective intelligence of creative minds multiplying its potential through collaborations and mutual learning, at the same time showcasing the spirit of community capital through the involvement of communities and place.
Crowd carries different meanings in different contexts, specifically from the categories of
- Collective Intelligence/ Design and
- Community Capital.
Archifest 2014 discussed how architecture, the city, and the role of architects, itself, can be challenged and changed by this notion of crowd through these two categories.
2013: Small is Beautiful
Through the lens of a theme ‘Small is Beautiful’, Archifest 2013 explored and celebrated projects, design studios, communities and ideas that might be small by choice and circumstance but are large in ambition and impact.
Engaging partners from various institutes, architecture firms, creative companies and individuals, the resulting calendar of programmes proved to be diverse and well-rounded with programmes catered to the architecture fraternity, creative industries as well as the general public. With Children’s Day falling in the middle of the festival, kids-centric events were included in the festival calendar too
2012: Rethink Singapore
To imagine our city in the future, old urban moulds must be shed and new definitions must be made. In response to this, Archifest 2012 placed our city under a new light and through new lenses, rethink and reframe Singapore as an urban ecosystem, beyond singular architectural projects.
Regarded by many as a model of urban planning and a laboratory of possibilities, Archifest 2012 used the city as a playground and reconsider the definitions, processes and components that make it up, envisioning what its future might be.
2011: Common Spaces
Archifest 2011 looks at the notion of ‘Common Spaces’. We are curious about how the nature of shared spaces and experiences are shaped by conditions of our current global environment. This subject is examined in three key aspects of common spaces – our physical surrounding, media and virtual space and psychological space.
The dissolution of shared domains in public realms, threatened by privatisation and commercialisation of these areas has led to questions of what is truly public in today’s context. On the other hand, new media spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, have empowered us with new means of communication and connectivity and added a fresh dimension to the way we interact.
With the conventional meaning of territories, boundaries and communities refined, how will these spatial parallels influence our perception and of shared experience and collective memories of our surrounding? How will these new ideas of common spaces and networks affect the way architecture and cities are designed? How can we harness its potential to create a sustainable urban environment and enrich our idea of Place?
2010: Happy Cities
Archifest 2010 explores the possibilities of developing cities into an apparatus for ‘Happiness’ — an often elusive but a quintessential component of human aspiration. Happy Cities postulates a more refreshing way to benchmark quality built environments and sustainable urban settings.
With pressing issues of environmental upheavals, extensive inequalities, proliferation of slums and depletion of natural resources, what part can the urban and architectural fraternity play to engineer “happiness” in these trying conditions? What can we pursue in this new index of urban living in a commercially domineering climate that propagates idiosyncratic or iconic, rather than social aspirations in architecture? How can urban spaces and buildings be generators of social cohesion, with positive contributions to the community and built environment?
Through a collection of built and speculative architectural and urban projects with varying socio-economical, political and cultural conditions, Happy Cities sets different yardsticks and definition of sense of place and spaces, to challenge conventional notions of sustainable urban living. Offering a glimpse of the bold new world that awaits us, Archifest proposes our measure of happiness, and shares solutions, even utopian ideals to enhance the development of our cities as sites for a thriving and sustainable urban, cultural and social life.
2009: Architecture for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity expresses our ambition to reconsider one of the fundamental purposes of creating architecture – to celebrate and embrace the concept of humanity. In the midst of frantic urbanisation, a proliferation of globalised one-size-fits-all solutions, and the ubiquitous production of icons, have architects, intentionally or not, forsaken their duty to create architecture for people?
Archifest hopes to find inspiration through the spirit of humanity in the works of various architects from around the world. From low-cost social housing to disaster relief housing, from schools to social design services, these architects have improved lives, supported community development, and provided invaluable contributions to community partners.
2008: Man + Environment
The theme for Archifest 08 is “Man+Environment”. This theme re-examines the relationship of Architecture with the Environment. This complex relationship encompasses context, genius loci, history, culture, economics, and technology to the growing concern about the role of Architecture in the degradation of our environment that could contribute to global warming, climate change, displacement and alienation. These are clear and present issues facing many countries all over the world. It is therefore befitting and timely to adopt the theme “Man + Environment”, for this year’s Archifest 08, to drive home the point for balancing mankind’s needs and the environment.
2007: Aspiration to Realisation
“Aspiration to Realisation” sets the theme for the festival and forum, where speakers from different parts of the world shared their journeys in realising their aspirations through the presentation of ideas and philosophies, in the context of the growing city and its living environment.