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Medal Winner 2000

The Photo-Park

Part 1 Project 2000
Bing Huan Ler
National University of Singapore Singapore Singapore
PEOPLE, ENVIRONMENT & PLACE. The proposed Photographic Gallery is sited along the busy Orchard Shopping District but is isolated from the surrounding activities by congested roads flanking it. There is a lack of positive urban parks in the city. Thus, the intention of the Gallery is to serve as a social condenser, connecting and interacting with the diversified surrounding activities. Concepts between Photographic Art and Architecture share the idea that both experience constant interactions between 3-dimensional space and 2-dimensional planes. Upon pressing the camera shutter, the 3-dimensional object becomes 'dislocated' in time and space onto a plane surface. A Photo-Park is proposed at ground level as an urban retreat while the Gallery becomes subterranean. Fragments of ground planes and transparent volumes 'dislocates' from the ground, frozen in time and space like the photographic image. This creates a duality of experience. The lifted edges reveal the programmes underneath while trees rises through the courtyards provide a relationship between the two. Through these openings, dappled light and shade filtering in creates an ever-changing spatial experience on different days. Photography often creates such convincing forms of pictorial evidence that this process of communication renders the medium transparent, blurring our perception of the environment and its photographic representations. 'Street' and architecture are fused - pathways crossing the site interweave with the gallery, resulting visual and social interaction of the observers and those being observed. The pedestrian encounters a matrix of spaces where activities and digital graphics are in constant change. Images on glass surfaces here are not seen as a form of representation but of visual stimulus. Materials of steel-mesh and glass bring forward spatial transparency, which encourages changes in the roles of people at different levels. This gallery intends to seek a new way where conditions of architecture, social and urban could take place.
Bing Huan Ler


The proposed photographic gallery is sited on an existing car park along Orchard road - the busiest shopping street in Singapore. The programme of the project requires a strong visual presence of the building, and the location at Orchard road, demands an open building with easy public accessibility. As a response, the major body of the building is sunken into the ground, the only surface of the building - roof becomes an urban garden. Here, the priority is given to the public, yet not by sacrificing the private function of the building.
By contrast to the conventional idea of building as a universal object standing in space (by which, form takes priority), Lawrence's design focuses on events, where form disappears. The approach is to provide a variety of spaces - wide or small, open or closed, floating or standing, dark or bright -which serve the specific attributes of the objects displayed in a specific sequence. For instance, a series of evenly distributed courtyards are inserted into the space to bring natural light in as well as to orient space. The planting of trees in the courtyards is intended to offer shades (important criteria in tropical regions) to both the gardens on the top as well as the interior space beneath. Dark rooms for developing films are boxes floating in space and are positioned such that the top of boxes also serve as seats in the garden. The sense of overlapping narratives survives in the routing and the ensuing variety of spatial types such that the functions of space can be easily read.
Despite the overriding attention to the organisation of the interior spaces, the integration of the complex within its urban context has not been overlooked. Rather than developing the external skin of the building as a quasi-autonomous system, here, the skin per see is an urban element, a variable tissue that responds to and serves surrounding conditions.

2000
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