World Architecture Day 2020: Message from SIA President

Greetings, my fellow Architects. The past few weeks have seen a milestone for SIA, as we’ve hosted the first online Singapore Archifest, in light of COVID-19. We are now midway through the festival, and I thank you for your participation in the compelling and multifarious sessions that we’ve had thus far. Architecture can indeed save our world, if we use it right.

Today, on the 5th of October, the architecture community from around the world celebrates World Architecture Day. This year’s theme, “Towards a better urban future”, resonates with UN World Habitat Day’s message, “Housing for all: a better urban future”. While we are in the midst of battling the pandemic, the persistent issues of housing rapidly-growing populations, and maintaining hygiene, health and sustainability, continue to remain. These are longer-term issues that we, as Architects, have the agency to solve.

What does that mean for Architects in Singapore? Let’s break this down into three parts.

1. Singapore Architects Surviving the Pandemic

Our recent conversations have been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can survive this crisis. In close collaboration with our allied professionals and the government agencies, we are navigating the path towards recovery. These include the safe return of our workforce to work sites, but also discussions with the relevant agencies on strategic projects that would require the participation of our Architects. We are also exploring possible external grants that can alleviate the cost of business.

Most importantly, I stand with Singapore Architects in ensuring that we keep ourselves healthy, as we can only effect positive change if we ourselves are well guarded against the virus. With a clean bill of health and a clear mind, we can then approach the crisis with the following means.

2. Singapore Architects Engaging Internationally, Digitally

SIA is key participant in international architecture organisations, including UIA (Unione Internationale des Architectes, the International Union of Architects) and ARCASIA (Architects Regional Council Asia). We have been actively involved particularly in the events of ARCASIA, through digital means. The current ARCASIA chairmanship resides in Singapore, with SIA Past President Ar. Rita Soh at its helm. We are also represented in its various committees by our current Council. Our 1st Vice President, Ar. Chan Kok Way, was a panelist in an ACAE (ARCASIA Committee for Architecture Education) event on the future of architecture pedagogy over the past weekend, and our members continue to lead regional conversations on Practice, Sustainability, and Corporate and Social Responsibility.

Closer to home, we are a key member of the Four Nations collaborative, comprising IAI (Indonesian Institute of Architects), PAM (Malaysian Institute of Architects) and ASA (Association of Siamese Architects). These are our four closest neighbouring institutes, and through continued collaboration and camaraderie, we aim to promote our Southeast Asian brand of practice globally.

Our participation in the above has placed Singapore in a position of regional leadership in practice. Through the above, we have also adopted and adapted to the digitalisation process, with these discussions being carried out online and through virtual whiteboards. These will no doubt help to bolster our marketability and business potential, as Singapore Architects.

3. Singapore Architects Transforming Our World

They say that times of crisis are perfect times for opportunity. These times have enabled us to re-evaluate our profession and to continuously find ways of renewal. To that end, our “Engage, Digitalise and Transform” mantra will continue to guide this Council in their activities, business and practice of Architecture.

Our global leadership, made possible through the infrastructure and governance by which we stand, puts us in a position of trust and expertise in shaping our global urban landscape. My Council and I are committed to continue to serve the profession, and to listen to your needs – and the collective needs of Singapore Architects. We seek your continued support over the next few years as we recover from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, my Council and I wish you a happy World Architecture Day, as we navigate our future together.