VOICES

Go­ing be­yond the green agenda, how can de­sign con­nect with its users? Alan Kueh talks about putting cul­ture first in three projects.

Home & Decor (Singapore) - - Contents -

Alan Kueh of AK+ on sus­tain­able ar­chi­tec­ture de­vel­oped for the com­mu­nity.

aK+ is an ar­chi­tec­tural and de­sign firm op­er­at­ing across Sin­ga­pore, aus­tralia and Malaysia. When I es­tab­lished the firm, it was with the in­tent of adding value to all the ar­chi­tec­tural projects we un­der­take. The de­sign phi­los­o­phy of the brand is char­ac­terised by a mind­ful sim­plic­ity closely in­formed by na­ture, paired with an ap­proach that is deeply rooted in tra­di­tion and an out­look to­wards cre­at­ing for the fu­ture. One of the things I seek to do, as well, is to find ways to make de­sign rel­e­vant to the spa­ces and com­mu­nity it is made for and caters to.

Now, as an up-and-com­ing firm, we were deeply hum­bled to be short­listed as a fi­nal­ist in back-to­back years at the World ar­chi­tec­ture Fes­ti­val (Mi­rage By The Lake for the Hous­ing cat­e­gory in 2016, and Paragon at Cy­ber­jaya for the Mixe­dUse cat­e­gory in 2017). Our maiden ID stint - Loco Lo­cal, the Spring/ Sum­mer Sin­ga­pore cam­paign by the French high fash­ion lux­ury pow­er­house Her­mes in 2016 - also earned the Highly Com­mended award in the In­side Dis­play cat­e­gory at the pres­ti­gious cer­e­mony.

Those were projects close to my heart be­cause they al­lowed me to en­gage with the con­sumers and home­own­ers through the lan­guage

of ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign. With the hous­ing and mixed-use projects, I found ways to cater to the needs of the home­own­ers by cre­at­ing de­sign adapted for their life­styles. It also gave me the op­por­tu­nity to show­case how, to be truly green in de­sign, the firm could pro­pose liv­ing so­lu­tions that were sus­tain­able and would look beau­ti­ful for many years to come.

Mi­rage By The Lake wel­comes na­ture into daily liv­ing and blurs the dis­tinc­tions be­tween what is deemed “in­side” and “out­side”. It awak­ens a sense of cu­rios­ity and in­spires fur­ther ex­plo­ration in na­ture, ex­em­pli­fied by bound­aries that sup­port con­nec­tiv­ity rather than im­pede it. Mov­ing be­yond Green Rat­ings, we ex­pounded on sus­tain­abil­ity by in­cor­po­rat­ing sus­te­nance of cul­ture, while bal­anc­ing moder­nity and tra­di­tion.

For the Paragon At Cy­ber­jaya project, it was de­signed with bud­ding en­trepreneurs in mind, so res­i­dents could eas­ily and eco­nom­i­cally ex­pand their units as their busi­nesses grow. Exit stair­cases were built as reg­u­lated, but de­signed as an es­cape of an­other kind, where one could slow down, breathe and en­joy the mo­ment. The stag­gered de­sign forms a com­mu­nal and in­ter­ac­tive space that leads down to the com­mon fa­cil­ity deck.

As for the Her­mes cam­paign, it jux­ta­posed lo­cal ob­jects with the high cul­ture of Her­mes, re­flect­ing the so­cio-cul­tural po­si­tion­ing unique to Sin­ga­pore.

The cam­paign fea­tured in­ter­play be­tween ob­jects that lo­cals have grown ac­cus­tomed to, as those in­dige­nous items could be used in ways that sur­prise and over­turn ex­pec­ta­tions.

The sense of fa­mil­iar­ity with the ma­te­ri­als used (sapu lidi, co­conut fi­bres, raw-edged linen and wood) added an en­chant­ment to the magic of Her­mes em­bed­ded in the vi­gnettes. Sil­hou­et­ted an­i­mals of this re­gion, such as frog, tapir, por­cu­pine and but­ter­flies were also em­bed­ded in the for­est scenes. Through the use of flora and fauna mo­tifs spe­cific to batik, the vi­gnettes were seen in a se­ries of con­trast­ing 2-D laser cuts and re­cesses. The fore­ground and back­ground seam­lessly con­trasted with pop-up, lay­ered and nat­u­ral wood-cut mo­tifs of batik.

ALAN KUEH FOUNDER, AK+

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