experiencing architecture in a new light

This article first appeared in BTS Issue 3.

By Chloe Liang Xiuling, Graduate (Class of 2019)
Architecture and Sustainable Design

Singapore Hawker Centres: Interacting Flows in Urban Systems is a joint options studio with Aalto University in Finland that can be taken by both Term 7 Undergraduate students and Term 9 Masters students. The studio aims to reimagine the concept of hawker centres in Singapore and look at ways the typology can evolve as Singapore presses forward.

[Editor’s note: Hawker culture is a key part of the Singaporean identity. Here at SUTD, we are doing our part to keep it alive with tech and design. In an earlier exhibition held at the National Design Centre, SUTD students shared exciting possibilities such as community farms that hawkers can tap on and integrating sinks with rainwater collection points for washing.]

As one of the flagship initiatives of SUTD’s partnership with Finland’s Aalto University, this studio has been a whirlwind of new experiences. After the Aalto students visited Singapore in Week 3 and got a taste of our hawker centres, it was our turn to make a trip to Helsinki!

On the first night, Aalto professors told us about the ever-changing conditions that Finnish
architects have learned to work with – for example, with their midnight sun in summer and polar nights in winter, their lighting strategies vastly differ from Singapore’s equatorial climate.

The port scene in Helsinki 

The port scene in Helsinki 

Over the next seven days, I was constantly blown away by the beauty and diversity of the
architecture in Helsinki. As a relatively young city, Helsinki’s architecture varies from how many historic European cities struggle to be. Here, monumental cathedrals coexist with stern modernist structures, and buildings weave around huge granite boulders that have rested there since the last time glaciers covered the country. The architectural highlight of my trip was definitely the Temppeliaukio Rock Church, which was carved out of a solid outcropping of granite with dynamite – how cool is that?

Temppeliaukio Rock Church

Temppeliaukio Rock Church

Aalto University’s magnificent auditorium 

We experienced our midterm critique with our Aalto counterparts where both SUTD and Aalto professors gave feedback on our projects. Seeing everyone’s diverse projects and skills was made more memorable afterwards by our sauna expedition with the Aalto students, which was the best part of the trip!

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