BA, 1989, BArch, 1992 (Honors), National University of Singapore; MArch, with Distinction, 1998, Cranbrook Academy of Art, MI. Concurrent Positions: Principal, Studio Chronotope; Partner, SKA Architects. Completed Works: Ecology of Small Ideas, Japan; Prime Minister's residence, Singapore. Lectures: Netherlands Architecture Institute; Berlage Institute; Tongji University, China; Sofia Architecture Week. Exhibitions: Archifest, Singapore; Urbanscape Gallery, Canada; Architectural Institute of British Columbia's Architecture Center. Publications: Between Making and Action: Ideas for a Relational Design Pedagogy; Emerging Practices: Professions, Values, and Approaches in Design and Design Education; Lives in Large Interiors; Handbook of Interior Architecture and Design; Zero; A10 New European Architecture; Crisis, Dialogue, and Imagination: Networks of Design. Editorial Committee: Journal of Architecture, Media, Politics, Society; Awards: CIDA 2014 Visionary; Toyota Foundation; Motorola Foundation; Jaap Bakema Fellow. Membership: Associate Member, AIA; Member, Association of Architectural Humanities Research Society.
I am an alumnus of the Architecture Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where I studied on a merit scholarship and graduated with distinction in my final year. In addition to teaching at SAIC, I am also the Principal of Studio Chronotope, and a licensed architect in Singapore.
I see architecture as a form of reflective practice. To be an architect for me is to engage in a lifelong process of questioning and searching that traces the arc of my personal growth and development. Architecture carries a surplus and a philosophical dimension beyond building. It cultivates of a way of looking, thinking, and meaning-making. I eschew narrowly defined approaches to a project, given constraints or outcomes. I see myself as someone who constructs a world from the ordinary and unsystematic conditions in our cultural landscape with care, commitment, empathy, and generosity. My projects have traversed across a bandwidth of scales and complexities, and deployed an array of media and methodologies. They range from the exploration of generative sequence of forming, the affective qualities of materials, the use and design of vast, and interconnected interior environments (Lives in Large Interiors), to participatory design.
Despite the diversity, I strive to imbue my work with significance beyond the utility or the narrow relation between means and ends. SAIC, which advances an interdisciplinary and peripatetic pedagogy is an incredible place for the teaching and learning of architecture, interiors and object design from manifold dimensions and to find their intersections. This is especially significant, as crossovers between disciplines become the norm due to shared concerns, use of common digital tools and platforms, and the need to develop a holistic approach to design. In "Between Making and Action—Ideas for a Relational Design Pedagogy," my presentation at the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University conference and exhibition, I presented my experience in reconfiguring the undergraduate architecture and interior architecture curricula to draw upon the strong art and humanities tradition of SAIC in educating the future designer who moves relationally between different roles and ways of practicing.
In addition to my teaching and practice, I have served as an external examiner for the interior design programs at Temasek and Singapore Polytechnics. I am an adviser for the annual Urban Ecologies conference at OCAD University, Canada, and sit on the editorial board of Architecture-MPS, a cross-disciplinary online journal of architecture, media, politics, and society.
In 2009, I was the 3rd Jaap Bakema Fellow, a competitive international fellowship administered by the Netherlands Architecture Institute for my project ZERO; a co-recipient of the Motorola Foundation grant for a community-based design studio in Beppu, Japan in 2010; and a School of the Arts (Singapore) Distinguished Fellow in 2012 for my teaching excellence. In 2014, I was appointed by the DesignSingapore Council as a juror for the Singapore's President's Design Awards, the nation's highest award for design excellence. The same year, I was recognized by the Council of Interior Design Accreditation in the United States as one of the CIDA Visionaries who would help the council to develop the accreditation standards for interior design higher education in North America. In 2015, my proposal for the Next Helsinki architectural competition, titled Helsinki: Polybrids The Nexus of Art Agency and Society, was selected by a distinguished panel of architects, academics, and art practitioners led by architect Michael Sorkin. It was deemed one of eight most interesting submissions out of a total of more than 200 from 40 countries. The proposal posits an alternative, urban museum experience of different scales where art, everyday life, biota systems, and community engagement could be weaved together using the tram network as a connecting element.
My recent work revolves around the term "Lesser Urbanism." It is inspired by William Morris's 1882 essay, The Lesser Arts of Life. Lesser Urbanism curates, examines, and presents aspects of urban life in densly populated cities that are overlooked or ignored. Their presence is often negotiated, contested, and sustained along the margins of society.
Although urban development is progressing at a relentless pace in Asia, I find there are still vestiges of traditional rituals and local customs subsisting alongside, and in quiet resistance against the process of globalization and gentrification. To disclose and celebrate these local cultures and alternative spatial practices—ones where resourcefulness, creativity, and sociability are called upon to overcome unfavorable situations and material scarcity are imperative in Asia—as more and more vernacular knowledge and places are erased and forgotten.
My ongoing research project on the Wah Fu informal public space in Hong Kong is one such effort. My interest in Lesser Urbanism transpires through a slow, deliberative journey, reaching back to my time at Cranbrook. My work was concerned with the rules of formation and how elemental forms both circumscribe space and propagate an emergent order through a process of placement, aggregation, extension, and configuration. In Lesser Urbanism, I am equally keen to articulate forms of individual and collective judgment and governance, both tacit and stated, as well as social conditions that give rise to, scale out, and sustain localized spatial organizations. They herald a novel urban experience, alternative strategies of configuring space, and make visible vernacular poetics that are more representative of our current splintered and tangled lives, heightened by increasing contingency and scarcity.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.