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A Report from Architours

Archifest’s Architours are back, and happening throughout October. Narelle Yabuka joined the “Rethink Office Spaces” tour and recounts the experience.

A Report from Architours


October 17th, 2012

Over the five years that the Singapore Institute of Architects’ Archifest has been running (2012 being its sixth year), its Architours programme has proven particularly popular. This year’s “Rethink Office Spaces” tour, held on 12 October, attracted a substantial crowd of 36 individuals of various ages.

Around 30% of the participants were professional designers and another 30% were students (of architecture, interior design and engineering). I joined them on the tour bus, which was headed to five office locations.


The first stop was Cross Street and Ministry of Design’s (MOD’s) precisely honed “Bar Code Office”, the naming of which was inspired by its banks of white communal worktables on a black floor.


Ministry of Design office. Images courtesy of Ministry of Design

The interior provides a good working advertisement of MOD’s approach to design. The entrance sequence sets the tone; a shallow black portal delivers you into a sunken white gallery containing an art installation by MOD and tiered seating (for talks and lectures). No receptionist, no sofa. Just art and a thinking space.

The office received an SIA Architectural Design Award this year. It makes me wonder what MOD’s new Beijing office space is like.


Director Colin Seah also joined us at the next location. Face to Face is a serviced office venue on High Street. MOD provided the holistic design, working externally, internally, and on branded collaterals.


Face to Face office. Images courtesy of Ministry of Design

The venue embodies “certain lifestyle attitudes,” said Seah, his client adding that curious passersby often wander into the reception area to ask what the space is. The playful unconventionality is epitomised by the multiple-function reception counter-slash-bar – a hybrid zone for work and hospitality.

158 Cecil Street. Image courtesy of AgFacadesign

The next stop was 158 Cecil Street, where AgFacadesign’s “Hanging Garden” A&A project has transformed the fortunes of a building that was previously struggling to find tenants. Now Facebook counts among them.

AgFacadesign removed the building’s existing mesh facade panels and created a living, naturally ventilated atrium lined with vertical and horizontal planting. Most office floors are able to enjoy views of the 13,000 potted plants, and some lower floors enjoy deck spaces in the garden. The mesh was reused for maintenance access walkways. Of note: the project took home first prize in the 2011 Skyrise Greenery Awards.


Park + Associates office. Images courtesy of Park + Associates

In the same building, we were shown the office of architectural firm Park + Associates, whose staff all dressed in black clothing for the occasion. They each thus cut a striking image against the largely white communal workspace, while virtually disappearing in the blacked-out entrance portal and library/lounge area.


Solaris. Image courtesy of CPG Consultants

The experience of Park + Associates’ distinct and enveloping spaces was followed by an encounter with a spiralling garden ramp at the Solaris building in one-north. Designed by CPG Consultants Pte Ltd (lead architect) and T. R. Hamzah & Yeang Sdn Bhd (design consultant), the building features a 1.5km-long landscaped ramp, roof gardens, a large naturally ventilated atrium, extensive sun shading, and rainwater recycling (for watering its gardens). 

While the itinerary did not facilitate a comprehensive survey of all the key tendencies in office design today, it did offer the opportunity to contemplate various types of office spaces and buildings in Singapore. Judging by the number of questions posed to the architects and designers, the tour group relished the experience.

Top image: Face to Face office

For more information on Archifest, visit

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