Couple win top local architecture prize

Couple win top local architecture prize
Mr Joshua Comaroff and Ms Ong Ker-Shing’s proposed pavilion can suit different locations and needs. An artist’s impression of the proposed pavilion which will be used as an art gallery.

A husband-and-wife team have won the biggest architecture prize for a pop-up pavilion competition in Singapore.

Lekker Architects' co-founders Joshua Comaroff, 41, and Ong Ker-Shing, 39, won $20,000 for their submission to the inaugural OUE Artling ArchiPavilion Design Competition. The awards were presented yesterday at the National Design Centre in Middle Road.

The couple, who have a six-year-old girl and four-year-old boy, worked on the design with their architectural assistant, Chen Shunann, and Yacine Bouvida of creative structural engineering practice Passage Projects.

Their 8,000 sq ft pavilion is called Soft Machine and features a structure with custom-made, lightweight steel trusses and clear polycarbonate panels.

The team came up with three different configurations to show that the space can be changed in shape and size, much like an erector set, says Ms Ong, who is an architect.

Mr Comaroff is architecturally trained, and the couple met at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Lekker Architects' pavilion is slated to be completed by the Formula One season in September and built at The Lawn at Marina Bay. It will be used as an art gallery and will house about 45 pieces, hung salon-style where they take up space from floor to ceiling.

Inside, there is also a private VIP dining room, a champagne bar, a book corner and an auction room for a standing audience.

Ms Ong adds: "We wanted to celebrate a structure which can suit different locations and needs. We don't know what kind of art will be shown there, or what it will be used for in future, so our design focused on creating a system, rather than a fixed form."

The competition is the brainchild of The Artling, an online art gallery and art consultancy based here, which organised the event with the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA). About 28 firms submitted entries.

The winning design was picked by a team of seven judges, including lead advisory judge David Adjaye, the Ghanaian-British architect behind the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, Norway; SIA's president Theodore Chan; and Ms Talenia Phua Gajardo, founder and director of The Artling.

Mr Adjaye, 48, who started his career taking part in pavilion competitions and designing temporary installations, says he was encouraged by the diverse range of entries and how architects here "interpreted their designs through the lens of their culture".

But the top entry impressed him more by "going further than what the brief required".

He added: "While others saw it as a way to flatpack, put a pavilion in a box and build the same thing somewhere else, Lekker Architects' idea changed and adapted to different communities and landscapes.

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