Woods Bagot opens S'pore studio

PHOTO: Woods Bagot opens S'pore studio

Global design and consulting firm Woods Bagot has teamed up with award-winning local practice Forum Architects to form a joint venture here.

The Singapore studio will be led by Mr Neil Salton, a principal of Woods Bagot, and aims to have a team of 50 people to meet existing regional and future client needs over the next few years.

Mr Salton is working with Mr Tan Kok Hiang, founder and director of Forum Architects, to build the practice.

Mr Salton told The Straits Times the move will bring Woods Bagot's global expertise and studio resources to Singapore.

The new venture will lift Woods Bagot's global presence to 17 cities including London, New York, and Hong Kong.

Mr Salton said: "Being in Singapore gives us the ability to service more of the South-east Asia market. There are massive opportunities in Singapore alone."

He cited Changi Airport's future plans, which include a multi-storey complex connecting its terminals, as an example.

It was natural for Woods Bagot to join forces with Forum Architects as the two firms have been working together for 15 years. One major project they worked on together was the East Coast Park masterplan.

Mr Tan said collaborations between local and foreign firms are common on a job-to-job basis.

But the two firms wanted a more formal arrangement that would signal a greater commitment from both firms, as well as an arrangement that would foster a longer-term perspective.

The joint venture has already secured a small project for a major chemicals organisation that wants to build a commercial training establishment. The name of the client was not disclosed.

The two will work together on such projects in varying roles, said Mr Salton. "For example, we may do some of the concept design while Forum does the execution, or we may just come into the consulting phase. That will shift according to client needs."

Singapore firms have a lot to offer to international firms such as Woods Bagot, added Mr Tan.

"Singapore, in the past decade, has become a significant architectural hub. The fact that the World Architecture Festival is held here... is testimony to Singapore's importance to the global architectural scene.

"International firms like Woods Bagot certainly see it as prestigious and important to have a presence here, together with local participation," he said.

The major festival is into its sixth year and was held in Singapore earlier this month for the second time. It will be held here again next year.

Woods Bagot is also looking for opportunities in China.

"Having the partnership with Forum... is going to help us wherever we look around in the Asia region," said Mr Salton.

rachaelb@sph.com.sg


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