We’ve moved! PEEK INSIDE our new digs…
Everyone knows that competitions are a bittersweet thing, at best. This one was a heartbreaker—an open two-stager for a new mosque in Punggol, in Singapore. Our team (Lekker as design consultants, with Ong Ker Shing Architecture as architects) made it as far as the final round, but no dice. The sweet part, and the bitter also, was that we really loved the scheme. In fact, we think it was one of the best projects to have come out of our office, ever. It imagined a mosque that was totally open to the elements: in effect, a cluster of small towers covered by a roof. The interior volume was meant to evoke the elegantly loose public spaces in many cities of the Islamic world, a kind of urban intersection rather than a “room” as such. SEE THE COMPLETE DESIGN HERE.
Mediapolis is a new urban district being built by JTC opposite the old Portsdown Road area, in Singapore. We have actually been involved with this project since the beginning—alongside Bernard Tschumi’s office, we produced the masterplan. We designed the landscape and environmental urban design guidelines. So it’s quite nice that we are back to build the area’s “central park.” It’s elevated by one level, and will interface with a new building by Kenzo Tange’s office.
We continue to have an amazing working collaboration with Hermès. We’ve been designing all sorts of things for the company for over a year. This has included windows, shop interiors, and graphics. MORE HERE
Our first book, Horror in Architecture, is about to go into its second printing, and a German edition is due in 2014. This project started as a series of conversations about a very basic problem: how to talk about architectural form. These mainly took place in our car, to or from the office, to site, or to meetings. Throughout our years in practice together, Shing and I have always been frustrated about the difficulty of communicating architectural language in words. Especially to “Muggles”—that is, to non-architects. We found ourselves often comparing buildings to other things in order to make them more understandable. They were described in terms of food, cartoons… and, increasingly, monsters from horror flicks.
For many reasons, modern buildings seemed especially clear when related to horrible types—to zombies, psychotics, giants and homunculi, and Frankensteinian composites, for example. We started to wonder why this was the case. Does something about Modernity make buildings monstrous? Horrifying? In fact, yes. We now believe that a number of forces, economic in particular, lead to this result. This book describes these, and shows a huge number of examples in modern building. These range from the famous to the obscure, the ugly to the beautiful and the sublime. Horror In Architecture is not a manifesto, per se; but it is our own treasure trove of amazing buildings…our canon. TAKE A LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK
Last month, Chanel’s Cruise Collection was photographed at our Belmont House. Geoff Ang’s stunning photos capture the swoon of a Lost Weekend—a sexy and slightly deranged ozone haze hangs, Fellini-style, over the whole thing. Even the camera seems to have a hard time staying in focus. Great stuff. MORE HERE
An amazing brief: Hermès asked us to produce a “secret garden,” a wondrous scenographic landscape that would exist as the setting for a party. The garden was built on a stretch of Astroturf at LaSalle School of the Arts. On top of this surface we placed real trees, shrubs, decaying logs, and ferns in an undulating topography—all the pieces of a genuine, full-scale tropical environment.
Using this real greenery as a base, we built from paper a layer of fantastical nature. These were elements that appeared to behave organically, although they were very abstract and geometrical. There were pyramidal growths on the fallen logs, which mimicked mushrooms, growing and following the curvature of the bark. The actual trees were covered with swarms of colored butterflies made from spirals and circles.
The Secret Garden was built in one night. It was partied in for five hours, and immediately dismantled—a totally ephemeral, radically temporary landscape. All the plants were borrowed from a nursery. We did, however, manage to sneak our daughter Mila in for an hour to feel the Sendak-ish atmosphere, and we took a photo to remember it by.
Interestingly, many people did not understand that the garden was temporary. Apparently some came back looking for it later, only to find that it had disappeared. You can see more (including before and after shots) HERE. The photos are by Darren Soh.
This is a new little house, in Geylang. We were the design consultants for this project, alongside Ong Ker-Shing Architects. For those who don’t know Singapore, Geylang is a very “mixed” neighborhood–it’s where our notorious red-light district meets a Buddhist community centers, and (increasingly) a sophisticated, cosmopolitan crowd. This is a home for art collectors, where the living spaces and galleries collide in a very direct way. These images were taken during the first exhibition to be held in the space.
The main stair has a blank, irregular quality. The stair “tubes” are highly plastic.
The main gallery, a triple-height space.
A CNC-cut metal screen, which separates a bathroom from the main stairwell.
The front gallery, a single height space for painting and installation.
A small bedroom is tucked away above the gallery, and looks down into it…
…and the elevation, showing the gallery below and rotated bedroom stack above. The photos were by our good friend Darren Soh–except for the second from top, which is by Eugene Goh / Light Works.
Project title: Gallery House
Design Consultants: Lekker Design
Architects: Ong Ker-Shing Architecture
Size: 3,500 ft sq.
Project year: 2012
Project Team: Ong Ker-Shing, Joshua Comaroff, Germain Goh, Sio Lim, Peter Then
An apartment for Kevin and Jungeun, and their daughter Yejin. Jungeun is an artist, so the home also doubles as a studio. It’s a pleasure to design for adventurous and tasteful people, so the apartment has a sense of fun and, we think, a little mystery also. Plus, there is an indoor slide for Yejin…
One of the celebrated public events in Singapore has been the removal of the old KTM railway line that used to cross Singapore from the north to the Keppel station in the south. It was technically a ribbon of foreign territory that snaked its way across the island, creating a linear zone in which no typically Singaporean modernizations could take place. At the same time, it became an interesting frontier of freedom. The corridor was host to small-scale agriculture, ramble routes, wild boar and monkeys–and was even home to its own minor god in the Hindu pantheon.
Lekker was invited, alongside FARM, Ministry of Design and other old friends and colleagues, to re-imagine one stretch of the line, near the mangrove wetlands of Sungei Buloh. We proposed the placement of a broad frame–a kind of snowshoe, in structural terms. The latter is a net of members that would provide the platform for the construction of a new wetlands zone. Within this, several interpretive areas (including an observation tower, shown above) would create a teaching ecosystem for the island’s north.