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Seah Chee Huang on ArchiFest

The chairman of Singapore’s annual architectural festival tells how the event aims to engage the man on the street.

Seah Chee Huang on ArchiFest


September 19th, 2011

Seah Chee Huang is a man with a packed schedule. Besides leading the charge at the upcoming ArchiFest in October, his work on the Singapore Sports Hub – as associate director at DP Architects – has been keeping him “quite busy for the last few years”.

Both may be time-consuming, nation-wide projects, but Seah is a ball of energy when we meet, and very excited to tell us what we can expect when ArchiFest hits the streets next month.


To be shown at ArchiFest 2011… 18 Shelford Road

“It’s really about the growth of a vibrant design culture and of course, hopefully, raising this idea of design consciousness in society,” says Seah, who has served as chairman of ArchiFest since 2009.

“Part of the purpose is to not just create something too serious; effectively, it’s something that we try to cater to the general public and even the youth.

“It’s really, how do you celebrate the whole idea of a beautiful environment in a fun and vibrant way?

“So that’s how the whole festival started, and of course there’s also a more serious tone to it. The festival has also looked at providing avenues for professionals – more in terms of showcasing good projects and emerging architects.”



ArchiFest was launched by the Singapore Institute of Architects in 2007, and has always been timed to begin on World Architecture Day. This year, that date’s set for 3 October.

The key components of the festival include a large public exhibition at the National Library, ArchiTours, Fringe events (there will be over 50 this year), and a forum session that gathers together a diverse and international group of speakers from the industry to share their views on the theme set forth for the year.



158 Cecil Street

“It’s intentional that we select speakers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds… because ArchiFest is also about providing that alternate point of view,” says Seah.

The festival’s theme for 2011 is “Common Spaces”. “The idea, really, when we start each year to look at the theme, is to look at issues around us,” Seah explains. “The things that are pertinent or that are emerging that we think are close to the heart, especially in the context of Singapore and the Asian cities.”


United World College of South East Asia

Three areas of Common Spaces will be explored this year: the physical space; the media and virtual space; and the psychological realm, which deals with collective memories.

The psychological aspect will be explored in the festival’s first public forum covering the hotly debated topic of the KTM railway line. No proposals will be shown, however, Seah is quick to stress. “The objective is really about sharing ideas and expressing your thoughts. The format will focus on educating and then benchmarking.”



ECO House, 36 Boon Teck Road

While only in its 5th year, partnerships with countries in Europe – including Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and this year with UK’s British Council – have lent considerable weight to the event. Traditionally, ArchiFest has also had strong regional reach with exhibitor participation from across Asia.


30 Jalan Rukam

Public engagement will continue to be a driving focus as the festival grows and evolves.

“One of the things worth mentioning is that ArchiTours has always been championed by architecture students.

“Through the years we’ve also made it a point to make the theme a lot more engaging and [consider] how it may also mean something to the man on the street… You see it from 2009 – it was “Architecture for Humanity”, 2 big words. And then 2010 was when we moved towards this whole idea of “Happy Cities”. That worked really well. So that’s part of this whole idea of evolution,” says Seah.

ArchiFest will be held from 3 – 28 October at multiple venues. For more information, visit

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