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Show Galleries: Reinventing the Wheel

Ministry of Design challenges the conventions of typical show galleries and recreates the visitor experience. Stephanie Peh writes.

Show Galleries: Reinventing the Wheel

Top image: Fractal Gallery Visiting condominium show flats in Singapore is often a dull affair where experience hardly matches up to the digits. According to Colin Seah, Design Director of Ministry of Design, this is mainly due to the majority of show galleries in Singapore being overly homogeneous and formula driven in their strategy. frac2 Fractal Gallery When approached by UOL to work on the architecture and interiors of three show galleries, Seah seeked to challenge and redefine conventions of the common gallery typology by using design as an advantageous tool to sell a lifestyle product. Surprisingly, this is a rarely utilised tactic. “Instead of relying on billboards, we relied on the inherent branding value of an iconic architectural statement to position the development: employing form making as a more relevant, subtle and sophisticated form of advertisement,” he explains. frac11 Fractal Gallery The Fractal Gallery conceptualised for 70 St Patricks redefines the flow and movement of activities within a show gallery through an experimental layout. The core development model was situated at the heart of its 1,085 square metres premise, where its remaining sections of reception, discussion area and other back of house facilities spiral around the central model.

frac6 Fractal Gallery These facilities are physically defined by juxtaposing wall planes which radiate outwards, creating a new spatial narrative and an architectural language that is visually arresting. “These fractal walls also create captured gardens, reminiscent of the gardens and pool areas in the actual development,” reveals Seah. The Fractal Gallery is the third and most recent show gallery for UOL by Ministry of Design. frac8 Fractal Gallery Elements that are often considered by Ministry of Design when creating a show gallery from scratch ranges from “the site, drop offs, traffic circulation, existing trees and views captured”. The thought process is to create a memorable experience from the moment a visitor is dropped off, down to every corner they would experience from within the gallery. frac7 Fractal Gallery Visual cues may be derived from the actual site itself. Frame Gallery for Thomson Three sits amidst a grove of tightly spaced trees bounded by two roadways, resulting in an organic structure with a central main model marked by a top lit skylight, which consists of four ‘pods’ that extend in an outward fashion. mod4 Frame Gallery The structure is shaped like the typographical form of ‘x’. Two ‘pods’ extend towards the roadway, acting as window display by offering a view of the hustle and bustle of activities within to the surrounding traffic, while the other two ‘pods’ on opposite ends provide a completely different experience with a generous view of a tranquil landscape with mature trees. mod1 Frame Gallery “The architectural materials for the show gallery are kept quite pared back (plaster, tiles, skylight), but the show units are dressed in more sophisticated and plush materials. The austerity of the architectural finishes allows us to focus more intently on the spatial experience and form making,” shares Seah. mod5 Frame Gallery While the palettes may be consistent, the result of all three galleries are highly distinguished and set apart from traditional show flats. Underlining Ministry of Design’s signature approach, Seah describes, “there is a tendency to explore a single key idea as opposed to juxtaposing multiple exploration.” mod6 Frame Gallery When it comes to reinventing the market, it often requires the partnership and support of equally bold visionaries to make possible. “I remember when we suggested leaving behind the conventional show gallery models and instead recast these UOL show galleries as “inhabitable sculptures which captured the UOL brand and product in a more subtle and sophisticated way. Mr Liam [President of UOL Group] acknowledged the risk but understood the potential and he green lighted the design,” shares Seah. mod9 Frame Gallery It worked. The first show gallery commissioned in 2010 sold out in four days. UOL commissioned Seah to work on another two. Sales of the most recent, the third, Show Gallery of 70 St Patricks soared. 100 out of 186 units sold out within the first weekend, a feat considering the recent stringent residential curb in Singapore. mod10 Frame Gallery Rather than a safe and typical glass-and-steel cube structure, the partnership has taken show galleries to a position that inspires desire with class. Less of the loud billboards, more substance and sophistication, with a focus on selling a lifestyle within a carefully detailed and designed architectural icon. Ministry of Design

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