This article first appeared in BTS Issue 2.

SUTD is honoured to lead the curation of the Singapore Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. Titled “No More Free Space?”, the Singapore Pavilion tells the story of how, despite the lack of free space, Singapore-based architects, urban planners and place-makers have creatively found ways to bring delightful free spaces to the city’s everyday life.

By Inez Ow, Alumni
Class of 2017

Light and projection tests the evening before the opening day

The Venice Architecture Biennale (pronounced as be-en-nah-leh, in case you were wondering!) is easily the most well-recognised mega architectural exhibition in the world. Held once every two years, it serves as a platform for countries from all over the world to showcase works related to issues of our times.

Upon graduation, I interned for TakahashiLim A+D, a design practice led by two of our ASD adjunct professors, Asami Takahashi and Jason Lim. During my time there, I had the rare opportunity to be part of the design team for our Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, titled No More Free Space.

Davidi, Corrado and Enrico from SetBuilt assembling our modules

Our goal was to design rope-like knots using acrylic rods, and it took us three months of rigorous experimentation to achieve this. It was a challenging but fulfilling feat, considering
the rigid nature of the material. We conducted multiple fabrication workshops with SUTD students, NUS students, and construction workers, during which we successfully handcrafted a total of 1600 acrylic knot modules.

Finally, I got the chance to spend a month in Venice, working together with the curators, programmers, Italian architects and builders, to assemble these modules to form the centrepiece of our national pavilion. Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this experience would be having the opportunity to witness and better understand the processes that go into the making of such large-scale events, from project management to budgeting and logistics — areas we do not typically engage with in architecture school. Looking back on this journey, it was really quite a crazy experience living together with SUTD and NUS professors, students and architects, in our Lido home. I learnt a lot from them sharing their personal experiences over meals, while cooking, doing laundry, washing dishes, watching Netflix etc. I’m not quite sure I can imagine the next time I’ll end up in a similar situation where a professor will be asking me, “Do you think we should take the chicken out of the oven?”.

Evening mood along one of the many canals in Venice
Al fresco breakfast in the backyard of our Lido home with Sarah, Sam and Tomo
Prawns by the ocean

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