SIA Gold Medal Award

The SIA Gold Medal is the highest honour the Singapore Institute of Architects bestowed on a senior architect, in recognition of his life time contribution to architecture and his most distinguished service to the profession of architecture. The senior architect bestowed with this Award would have attained a respectable standing in society and has made sustained and substantial contribution to architecture and the profession.

The Medal was introduced at a point in Singaporean architectural history when many of the first generation of architects who had pioneered the profession in Singapore was nearing retirement age, and the Institute believed that it was then appropriate to confer an honour on those who had contributed significantly to architecture during their lifetime. It was a time when Singaporean architecture could be said to have come of age; a period when there was a time frame and body of work with which to judge those who had made a sustained and substantial contribution to architecture in Singapore.

The Medal is conferred on a different architect once every two years and the first SIA Gold Medal was conferred in 1998. To give the honour the prestige it deserves, only one architect is conferred in each occasion. The Medal is modelled on RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal, which was instituted by Queen Victoria in 1848.

To receive the SIA Gold Medal, the nominee has to have demonstrated through his work that he has fulfilled three principal criteria:

  1. He has achieved a sustained and substantial body of work of architectural excellence and that either directly or indirectly he has promoted the advancement of architecture.
  2. He has attained a respected professional standing in society, with personal integrity, and that he may be considered an ‘ambassador’ for the profession.
  3. He has demonstrated leadership qualities that provide direction and enhancement for the prestige of the architectural profession, as well as serving as a role model that will inspire other architects.

The selection of the recipient is through nomination by SIA members who have to provide supporting evidence for the suitability of the person being nominated. An Awards Committee comprising eminent persons and architects within the profession then evaluate the candidates before endorsing one recommendation. The person nominated for the award is required to give a lecture that focuses on a review of his work and achievement.

The Award
The 1st series of crystal sculptures were designed by Singaporean artist Min Chen, and made in Germany by experienced glass blowers. On the sculpture are the words ‘SIA Gold Medal Award for Life Time Contribution to Architecture’.

On the box in which the award is stored is a poem by Min Chen inscribed on a metal plate.

A tribute
He is come of age but Ageless
True but mysterious
His internal space informs his facade
This is a tribute to one man
Whose finite achievements transcend the apparent
A man of many faces, many profiles
But still all one man
One man whose grace and subtlety give
Substance to our touch;
One man whose destiny it is to have
His spirit forever reside within our hearts

The 2nd series of sculptures were designed and produced by Singaporean duo Sara Ang and Florence Ng. The original wordings –  ‘SIA Gold Medal Award for Life Time Contribution to Architecture’ remains on the 2nd series of sculptures.

This sculpture emerges from fusing exquisite, high-quality glass sourced from the United States. It stands as a testament to artisanal skill, featuring an intricate tapestry of beautiful patterns nestled within. As light dances across its surface, shimmering sparkles come to life, revealing hidden gems and delicate swirls that evoke a sense of wonder.

The sculpture resonates with the natural forces that shape our earth. Two towering pillars rise from its base, each adorned in colors symbolizing the prime elements of the Earth – yellow/brown for earth, red for fire, and blue for water. Like how molten lava flows and swirls according to the earth’s natural rhythm and how it is sealed into its final creation when has cooled down, so is the way of architecture. It captures the harmony between nature’s artistry and human intervention – thus, resulting in a wondrous fusion of the organic and the sculpted. The hues blend seamlessly, symbolizing the symbiotic relationship between humanity and the natural world. Contrasting colors find balance, a reflection of the beautiful synergy that arises when human intervention and nature coexist. The poem engraved on the base of the glass captures this message in writing.

Interestingly, the poem and the sculpture also narrate the story of the poem’s composer, Sara Ang, Director of Synergraphic Design, and the sculpture’s artist, Florence Ng, the Founder and Creative Director of Synergraphic Design. Florence is a veteran glass artist from Singapore who rallies to uphold the artistry of glass in the country and the region. Both the poem and the sculpture exemplify Sara and Flo’s collaborative harmony in preserving the craftsmanship of glass. They tell the story of a mother and child, who share the same passion and vision in their chosen craft and also paint a picture of leadership and succession within the family. The poem and the sculpture illustrate the originator passing the baton to the second-generation leader, who is to preserve and make rich the legacy of their craft.

Lava blooms in time
Mantle is formed, then passed on,
Summits of glory

By: Sara Ang

SIA Gold Medalist Recipients