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Who Won (Not The) Singapore Venice Pavilion Competition?

After lengthy deliberations by a heavyweight jury, there was not one winner but three! Now the schemes will be refined for documentation.

Who Won (Not The) Singapore Venice Pavilion Competition?

'Sand City' by Candrielle

The competition for alternate ideas for the Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale attracted 35 varied submissions, with three finalists selected for a final round of judging at The Substation on Saturday 9 September. The stakes were high. The winner would take home S$10,000 funded by The Substation, with runners up receiving $2,000. And the deliberations were intense!

The competition organisers, Persuasive Design Agency, assembled a stellar jury: Lilian Chee (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Architecture, NUS), Debbie Ding (visual artist and technologist), Jane M. Jacobs (Professor and Director, Division of Social Sciences, Yale-NUS College), Lai Chee Kien (Adjunct Associate Professor, SUTD), Hunn Wai (co-founder and Creative Director, Lanzavecchia + Wai), Adrianne Wilson Joergensen (Research Coordinator at the Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre), and Sarah Mineko Ichioka (former Director of The Architecture Foundation [London] and RIBA Fellow). Tay Kheng Soon also weighed in on the jury session.

The three finalists were Candrielle (a partnership consisting of communications student Candy Choo and architecture student Gabi Quek), FRIENDS (graphic designer Randy Yeo with sisters Lingxiu Chong [an architect] and Lingying Chong [a writer and publisher]), and Stable~Unstable (a design practice focused on public spaces and landscape architecture). The judges felt there was no clear winner.

While the judges felt each project contained the potential to be developed into a compelling pavilion design, none were deemed to be adequately advanced at the time of the final presentation. Selection was further challenged by the fact that – while all three contained strong and weak aspects –the schemes were all at different stages of development and were therefore difficult to compare on either artistic or technical merit.

So the prize money was split three ways. Each team receives $3,000 and the remaining $5,000 is being dedicated to the recommended task of developing and documenting the schemes for presentation at The Substation.

There were some compelling ideas presented. Candrielle’s entry, titled ‘Sand City’, focused on the significance of sand to Singapore’s nation building efforts, and the problematic issues around its procurement. The proposal was a sand game in which teams would compete within designated zones to build landforms using wet and dry sand, aiming to achieve the highest sand-to-land ratio (measured by weight). 

FRIENDS’ proposal was titled ‘Demolish the Monolith: Pavilion of the Pending’. The proposal was for a pavilion of blocks that would be gradually removed by visitors. Each block would contain literature on Singapore and/or virtual reality goggles that could be used to view sites in Singapore remotely. The goggles could be used to control drones in Singapore, which would capture the visual feed.

Stable~Unstable proposed ‘The East Coast Declamation Project of 2026’ – a concept that would be presented visually on panels in the pavilion space. The concept imagines the retrieval of the sand used to reclaim Singapore’s East Coast and the use of it to create higher terrains nearer the old shore line that could combat rising sea levels.

“We look forward to working with the three finalists to further refine their concepts as we certainly see a lot of potential in each of these proposals. We hope that the competition has served as a conversation starter for Singaporeans to examine the reasons behind our participation in the Venice Biennale and to also to offer their voices in not just the Venice Biennale, but also the various national exercises that our nation takes part in,” says Joshua Comaroff, designer and co-curator of the Discipline the City exhibition of which the competition was a part.

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