Architects: WOW Architects
Architect In Charge: James Tan
Design Team: Fernando Velho, Prabhu Sugumar, Christopher Lee Liang Neng, Yvonne Yung
Photographs: Aaron Pocock, C3M Studio
WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design was selected over four shortlisted firms in a competition to design and build the first-ever Pavilion for Singapore’s Archifest 2012. The “Wonder|Wall” is a zero waste pavilion that reuses materials in a new way to extraordinary functions and delight thus engaging and inspiring the hearts and minds of all to Rethink Singapore”.
Specificity Of The Site
The design of the pavilion was a response to the duality of the site. On the one hand, FortCanning, once know as the “Forbidden Hill” still retains its quiet, reposeful and almost mythical character. Directly opposite is Clarke Quay, vibrant and bustling with people and activities. In between is the Foothills that once was a hive for social activities with the public swimming pool and the National Theatre. The proposed pavilion seeks to embody the duality between the two realms, with its permeable skin. The undulating web inspires curiosity and amazement as well. At certain angles, the membrane looks almost solid like a wall, and when one moves along Wonder|Wall, a “moire” effect is created due to the double cladding around the structure. When viewed on the perpendicular, the membrane seems totally transparent and merges with the surrounding buildings and landscape.
Zero Waste, Buildability and After Life
The zero waste and buildability strategy was developed around two highly rapid deployable and re-useable systems. The first is the main structure, composed of box-truss systems developed for the Formula One Night race and the National Day Parade. The second is a polymer mesh developed for slope control that has unique attributes that enhance the usability and interaction of the space, the membrane and its landscape system can be reutilized around Fort Canning for slope and erosion control. Our zero waste strategy considered time, materials, cost and the after life of the elements.
The box-truss system, including the rooftakes a maximum of approximately 7 days to delpoy. The membrane takes a maximum of approximately 3 days to install. Overall time frame to complete Wonder|Wall erection would be 10-15 days. The cellular membrane once taken down can be re-used for the following:
- Fort Canning Hill’s other areas that require slope protection and stabilization.
- Donate to a nearby country whose village / farmland has been affected by soil erosion from slopes.
- The steel box-truss once taken down will be re-used in other commercial events along with the future National Day parades.
Architecture as Program – Engaging the Public
Normally used as a subterranean soil control technology, the membrane is given a new use asa vertical surface onto which to project, insert, interact and engage with the public. Seminars on Pop Up Farming, and Zero Waste Strategies can be conducted using the Versiweb membrane as a display surface. The cellular nature of the mesh system also forms “pockets” of intimate space or crenellations in which seeds of thought are propagated and nurtured.
- Archifest “post” cards are distributed to visitors at the entrance and they are encouraged to post thoughts, ideas and memories in the “pockets” to be shared and read by all.
- One of the initial inspirations for the pavilion was the humble straw mat for a park-like atmosphere. Rolled up Archifest straw mats are inserted into the “pockets” to encourage visitors to sit and converse, tell stories and share experiences.
- The entire Wonder|Wall is the Urban Pop Up farm with small foliage plants with geo-textile wrapped roots and a hydro-gel planting medium inserted into the cells.
WOW director, James Tan, who led the Pavilion design team comments, “WOW’s design ethosh as always been to challenge and explore new and innovative ways to create experientially rich spaces that are environmentally as well as economically sustainable for all our projects. In the pavilion design, a simple material (Versiweb) was used to create exciting and intriguing spaces that met all the requirements of the competition brief. The Versiweb forms a permeable skin for the pavilion, allowing natural ventilation whilst providing shelter from the sun and rain.
When viewed at different angles, the Pavilion seems to disappear and merged with the surroundings. In another instance, while walking alongside the Pavilion, a “moire effect” is created due to the double layering effect. The Pavilion design is also intended to be a “highly interactive platform” for the activities of the Archifest. Straw mats are inserted in the Versiweb “pockets” to encourage visitors to use them for seminars or picnics around the Pavilion.”