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Space Matrix And Temasek Polytechnic Dream Big About Coliving

Student winners have been announced Space Matrix’s ‘Dream Big’ Designathon with Temasek Polytechnic, which looked to the future of coliving spaces in Singapore.

Space Matrix And Temasek Polytechnic Dream Big About Coliving

Student winners Hariz Hadee (second place), Eunice Bacay (first place) and James Domingo (third place)

Coliving is still emerging as an offer in Singapore’s real estate landscape. But the expectation of workplace design specialist Space Matrix is that it will be increasingly important around the region – especially in the larger population centres and in proximity to workplaces (including coworking environments).

By bringing into focus just how much traditional modes of living and working are changing, coliving is an ideal conduit for student exploration of how market and lifestyle evolutions require innovative responses.

Over the past six months, Space Matrix has partnered with Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Design with an initiative that had second-year students in the Diploma in Interior Architecture and Design course directly engaging with the notions of coliving and coworking in a design competition.

The ‘Dream Big’ Designathon was launched by Space Matrix in partnership with Temasek Polytechnic, and saw 90 students put to the test to conceptualise a coliving space using Space Matrix’s own Singapore studio location at Phoenix Park as a site. 

On judging day (26 February 2019), seven finalists presented their work to a jury consisting of Hari Krishnan (CEO, PropertyGuru), Ng Seng Chor (Regional Workplace Manager APAC, Airbnb), Lim Chong Jin (Director, School of Design, Temasek Polytechnic), Samuele Martelli (Creative Director, Ascendas-Singbridge) and Arsh Chaudhry (CEO, Space Matrix).

The winning student designers were Eunice Bacay (first place), Hariz Hadee (second place) and James Domingo (third place).


Arsh Chaudhry (CEO, Space Matrix), Eunice Bacay (first-place winner) and Lim Chong Jin (Director, School of Design, Temasek Polytechnic)


Learning To Be A Change Agent

“As we see it, why should an expatriate moving to, say, Shanghai for work need to take out a residential lease and then rent a coworking space? They could simply take a residential-working lease and live in close proximity to their working space. It’s an easy solution,” says Richard Baker, Head of Design at Space Matrix Singapore.

He was one of several veteran designers from Space Matrix who, in partnership with faculty from the school, held several in-depth mentoring sessions to help students develop their proposals.

“We like to think we’re grooming young designers to be change agents in the world. That’s the responsibility of any designer, to think about their contribution to society,” says Derek Lo, Course Manager, Diploma in Interior Architecture and Design at Temasek Polytechnic.

Said Arsh Chaudry, CEO of Space Matrix, “With the concept of coliving untapped in Singapore, we believe we challenged the students to think beyond what exists today and enriched their learning by exposing them to real-world scenarios.”


And The Winners Are…

The winning design, by Eunice Bacay, focuses on healthy living and working and encourages fitness with a gym, bicycles and an indoor-outdoor jogging track.


Second-place winner Hariz Hadee chose to dedicate his coliving and coworking venue to graffiti artists, designing plenty of surfaces where art can be practiced.


Third-place winner James Domingo designed for musicians, creating spaces for practice and performance and focusing on the experience of different degrees of loudness.


The winners took home cash prizes as well as opportunities for internship at Space Matrix. Here are glimpses of the other finalists’ projects:


Multiple Benefits Of Industry Partnerships With Academia

Lim Chong Jin, Director of the School of Design, deeply values the partnership with industry and the authentic learning experiences it fosters. He said, “Nurturing highly adaptive designers requires a design education that is in sync with industry demands and practices… Through the Designathon, our students gained invaluable real world exposure that comes from working on a tight industry-relevant brief, in a competitive environment, guided by some of the most inspiring practitioners.”

The benefits of such a partnership flow to Space Matrix as well, but also, hopes Baker, to Singapore’s wider design industry. He says: “We are identifying talent in Singapore… We want to see more homegrown talent and recognition for designers in Singapore.”

Markets that are more mature, like Bangkok, already have an inherent design acceptance and value system, he suggested – which Singapore is yet to develop. He hopes that initiatives such as the ‘Dream Big’ Designathon will encourage more design students to invest in commercial and hospitality design (rather than just residential design, which offers quick turnarounds), and to become known and respected for their work in those sectors.

Watch a video by Space Matrix about the Designathon:


Event photography by Caleb Ming | Surround.

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