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Marina Bay Is Getting Its Own ‘Void Deck’ for Archifest 2018

September 25, 2018
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Returning for yet another edition from 28 Sep-10 Oct, Archifest 2018 aims to address the issues of giving back to society and enriching human life as a whole through this year’s main theme: ‘Design for Life’.

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But how exactly will the festival accomplish its plans, and why do they involve building a ‘void deck’ at Marina Bay? To get the answers, we sat down for a chat with Yann Follain, Managing Director-Head of Design of WY-TO and Festival Director for Archifest 2018.


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Qanvast: Before we begin, could you tell us about yourself and what it’s like to be Festival Director?

Yann (Y): I am Yann Follain, and I am the Managing Director and Head of Design of WY-TO, a multi-disciplinary design firm based in Singapore and Paris. I have also worked on plenty of architecture, design, and community-related projects here. One of them is ‘Fifty Years of Singapore Design’, which was a SG50 exhibition organised by the DesignSingapore Council.

I also participated in Archifest eight years ago, which I believe is one of the reasons why the SIA (Singapore Institute of Architects) approached me to be director. I felt both shocked and honoured when I received the invitation email.

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Qanvast: Could you tell us more about Archifest, and how it has grown to accomplish its goals and objectives?

Y: I’d say that the primary goal of Archifest remains the same. We may be the 12th edition of the event, but really, it’s still about getting people to be interested in their built environment.

We’re surrounded by all these tall buildings, big spaces, and open parks, which are really impressive, and we should celebrate them. And that's even more important for a nation like Singapore – we’re building all the time, whether it’s on the sea, towards the sky, or underground.

When the festival first started out, there was only one forum and an exhibition at the National Library, but 12 years later, we’ve more than 50 events for everyone. There are kids’ activities, workshops, exhibitions, collaborations, and even a party! Archifest may not be as large as those (festivals) in London, New York [sic], but the results are on display and I am happy to see how it has grown.

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Qanvast: What inspired the theme ‘Design for Life’ for this year’s festival?

Y: My goal this year is to create a festival that’s much more relatable to the people of Singapore, and to the people on the ground who are interested in the architecture that they see every day. From that point, the theme ‘Design for Life’ became quite evident.

But if I had to say, the true inspiration came from my daily life. My office is located in one of Chinatown’s HDB estates, and most of the people I meet there are elderly folks.

Sometimes, I’d work till late, and when I leave, I’d approach and check on those who are still outside. And they’d tell me that they don’t want to be stuck at home, that they want to be outside, connected to what’s going on; that really struck a chord in me, and it's the reason why I believe that this year’s festival should promote well-being, life satisfaction, and above all, celebrate life.

This experience also got me thinking about how architects can contribute to society. I strongly believe that architects are like doctors. Doctors help people through medicine, and architects help others feel better by building better living environments. In that sense, Archifest also aims to do the same by having fun and celebrating ‘Design for Life’.

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Qanvast: Personally, what do you feel is the role of design and architecture in our society?

Y: About that, I’d like to share a personal story. I come from a low-income family in France, and I lived most of my life in a concrete jungle, with a lot of social inequalities and issues around – this crafted my desire to become an architect and to design better living environments.

You ask about the role of design and architecture in societies, but I’d like to change the question to focus more on their impact. You may not see it, but architecture shapes our relationships to places and people – you tend to find meaning and feel connected to spaces that are well-designed.

I feel the best example of that in Singapore is the Marina Barrage. It’s a piece of infrastructure that ensures we get enough water, it’s nothing more than a barrage! Yet, it's welcoming to anyone who visits, whether you are Singaporean or a tourist – and that’s why I find well-designed architecture amazing.

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Qanvast: Could you tell us more about the highlights of Archifest 2018?

Y: One of the highlights of Archifest 2018 is the Design For Silver Generation symposium. We’re inviting everybody, whether they are architects, researchers, or students to share their views on design for the elderly as well as new innovations to support the lives of the Silver Generation. That’s something that Archifest hasn’t done before, and I am looking forward to it.

On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve KIDsBuild, which is a series of hands-on workshops, run by Albert Liang, a local architect, that encourages children to learn about the cultural and built environment around them.

And not to forget, there’s the Archifest Pavilion, designed by Kite Studio. I think it’s going to be a great piece of architecture, Kite Studio successfully translated the spirit and theme of the festival into their design for the Pavilion, which will be situated at Marina Bay Sands.

It’s going to be a modern interpretation of the traditional void deck, which I am sure everyone is familiar with. I am excited to see what one of Singapore’s most beloved HDB features looks like in front of one its most iconic buildings!

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Qanvast: Are there any exhibits that you’re personally excited about, and why?

Y: Yes, there’s one that I am personally excited about, and it’s the big ARTIFACTS party that’s going to happen at Intermission Bar at The Projector! I love dancing at parties! [laughs]

It’s thrown by Dean, owner of the Darker Than Wax label, he’s an architect, co-founder of FUUR, at the Intermission Bar which is also owned by an architect, Wai Hon, who lectures at SUTD, so it’s architects all around. But the party isn’t just for people in the line, everyone’s welcome!

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Qanvast: In your opinion, why does Archifest 2018 matter to Singaporeans?

Y: For Singaporeans who have lived their lives here for many years, Archifest will let them look at their home in a very different light.

Through the various activities and events that we’ve planned, I do believe that Singaporeans will get a new perspective of their built environment, especially when it comes to conservation. What do we do with all those buildings from the 50s and 60s? Should we restore and preserve them, or demolish them?

That’s a very real question that’s being asked both in Singapore and around the world. Here, we have cases like Pearl Bank and Golden Mile Complex. So even while they are having fun and discover new experiences at the festival, we want Singaporean participants to really think and ask for themselves what they’d like for the future of their built environment.


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Archifest 2018 is happening from 28 Sept to 1 Oct at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza and other locations around the island. Click here for more information.

Qanvast is proud to be a media sponsor of Archifest 2018

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