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Part 1 Project 2000
Tzeh Bin Cheong
National University of Singapore Singapore Singapore
This project calls for the erection of a centre, for performing and learning of Chinese Opera (Wayang), in a conservation site amidst the commercial centre in Singapore. The site is presently a surface car park surrounded on three sides by rehabilitated shophouses and with the broad side fronting an arterial carriageway. Not unlike the shophouses, Chinese Opera is an important part in the historical and cultural development of Singapore. Both are rich traditional entities that need contemporary treatment and interpretation.

Shophouses in the site was traditionally used as clubhouses for clan associations and guilds. Now because of commercial viability has mostly become restaurant and pubs. Chinese Opera in Singapore was traditionally performed in the open and was free for all to watch. Due to increasing standard of living and affluence, this means of performance is no longer attractive.

In order to attract people, commercial activities like shops and teahouse is incorporated. Students of the centre would introduce them to the art of Wayang with activities like free viewing of performances in the teahouse and etc. The commercial zone is hence on the ground level open plaza free for all to roam, true to the traditional spirit of watching Chinese Opera. The school itself will be a more private domain on the upper level where the student can learn the traditional art of Wayang.

Tzeh Bin Cheong

The insertion of a street opera/marketplace program into a contextually difficult site takes on added significance through the tension between the 'old-trade' functions and a contemporary spatial and formal composition. The student's intention is to re-introduce and make relevant an under-appreciated cultural form (street opera) by cross-programming a popular marketplace activity in an 'updated' building within a conservation area.
The primary linear edge of the triangulated plot is used to organise movement through site and activity. The strong singular quality of the building axis is employed as a device to frame, contain, reveal, and direct, the formal (opera stage) and informal (marketplace). The reduction of elements of composition and cladding of the main building into a simple skin is contrasted against the rhythmic structural skeleton of the public 'arena' of the marketplace shell. This composite reinforce and enhance the existing grain and texture of the precinct.
The presentation drawings and model are clean, clear, and effective, and appropriately uncoloured to complete the reductive qualities of the design.

• Page Hits: 3627         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001