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Celebrate Architecture and Community


As Singapore’s oldest residential estate, Tiong Bahru has long fascinated architects and design culture enthusiasts. In a country known for its high-rise Housing Development Board (HDB) apartments, old real estate stands out because nothing stands out. Tiong Bahru’s historic architecture includes a number of low-rise buildings, now largely obscured by the towering apartment and apartment buildings of the neighboring neighborhoods. However, the area’s unique atmosphere and classic aesthetic continue to draw everyone’s eclectic mix into the area. One of them is Manuel Der Hagopian, a Swiss architect who chose this property as the perfect venue to launch the TB80, a space for creators and lovers. Architecture likes to come together and exchange ideas through different events. We spoke with Der Hagopian to learn more about his latest project as well as his passionate love for architecture and community.

You are an architect running a very successful architecture firm across Asia. However, you have created a TB80 Space dedicated to specific exhibitions that combines photography, drawing, architectural sketches, and more. Tell us more about the TB80 Space concept.

TB80 Space is a pretty young project. We held our first exhibition event at the end of 2019 and have held various events (allowing measures to create social distance). The space is a mix of professional and personal-social workspaces, with a focus on design culture both in Singapore and abroad.

Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie
Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie
Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie

Through exhibitions, social dinners, events and open kitchens, we strive to encourage a sense of community to create a comfortable space to present and discuss art and architecture. , design. Plus, our events always have good food and plenty of time to share with guests!

The space is an icon, located in Singapore’s first social housing complex, Tiong Bahru, Singapore’s oldest housing complex built in the 1920s. Today, it is a very contemporary neighborhood. It is full of famous fashion boutiques and cafes, but it is the rich history of the area that really draws us in.

How does the TB80 Space blend into Tiong Bahru, Singapore’s uniquely designed 1920s residence and the neighborhood’s rich architectural heritage?

Tiong Bahru is a unique area for three main reasons; Its low horizon, historic architectural identity and accessibility are that it is not privatized or segregated into public and private housing.

It may seem counterintuitive to be drawn to the low-rise environment in a city as crowded as Singapore, but we certainly think that horizontal life creating a sense of community is becoming less common in metropolitan areas. our growing market.

This is a central aspect of the designs of the early 20sorder Century and utopian outlook have guided designers in response to the needs of public housing in Singapore.

How and why were the architects of Tiong Bahru in the 1920s so visionaries in their fields?

In the early 20th century there was a very interesting archetype where townhouse designs addressed environmental concerns through cross ventilation and encouraged a lively street landscape through rooms. the display has a roof and street alignment. The “horseshoe” supermodel also creates a central island in the area. Then there are styles of chalets set up in a park. These are possibly the most sustainable patterns that really refer to the “living in a garden” experience.

It is very rare to find such a diverse spatial identity in the same neighborhood that attracts a wide range of people from the elderly, to the discerning, as well as business entrepreneurs and interesting people, like furniture gurus. Ancient Chinese, Jean-Batiste Oudea, with antiques aphorisms, and African fashion designer, OliveAnkara. Anyway, if you’re interested, just follow the amazing tour guide Ariane Nabarro on a tour and you’ll know everything about Tiong Bahru’s curiosity!

Tell us about the current photo exhibition at TB80 Space that depicts Asian everyday objects and their close relationship with architectural standards around the world.

Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie

I worked closely with photographer Sébastien Löffler to create this series of shots to capture what we call “architectural moments”. The collection of domestic artifacts on display is presented in such a way that for us they instill an architectural quality.

This recalls the “poetic moment” or “object of poetic response” according to Le Corbusier’s theory, where a natural object, such as a bark or tree, becomes poetic and has space. With Sébastien’s, we created a form of tension by drawing similarities between domestic objects from Southeast Asia and the selection of modern architectural sites.

Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie
Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie
Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie

The result is the contrast and cohesion between these two worlds that raises questions about the universality of the design. Indeed, how could a traditional Vietnamese basket consider similar design issues as the Colosseum in Oakland, designed by SOM in 1966?

Your life and vision for the TB80 Space seem to be creating a constant and rich bridge between the East and the West. Tell us more about the specific vision you have developed and what will happen, about the exhibition, in the years to come?

As a Swiss architect living and working for more than 15 years in Southeast Asia, I realized that the ancient idea that knowledge moving from West to East is definitely over! Now, we begin to think of the cohesion that could unite the two worlds with a holistic vision and the acknowledgment of existing contrasts. Through close observation, we have been able to strengthen some links and bridges.

TB80 is a space but also a bridge, organizing events and exhibitions commemorating this bilateral dialogue. Let me give you two examples; At the end of 2019, we kicked off the first exhibition of Le Corbusier’s art in Singapore and this year we will kick off the Equatorial Utopia exhibition in Venice and Geneva exploring 50 years of utopian architecture. of Singapore. In the middle of the year, we will present a showcase of this exhibition with the films we have created on Singapore’s 15 utopian buildings.

What are the “Hanoi Talks” series and what impact have they had on the Asian architectural scene?

The Hanoi Talks event started a few years ago at our office in Hanoi when we finally realized the luck we had in an “anti-hub”. This is a continuum that we really enjoy organizing and I think it’s also the inspiration for the events that we offer at TB08 Space. For us, Hanoi can be seen as anti-Geneva, with a lot of creative potential, especially considering how Singapore and Switzerland are governed as nations.

For a creative boutique company like G8A Architects, it’s much more fun to be in a place where you can feel like anything possible. Young Vietnamese architects have no limits or limited ideas of what can or cannot be done. This energy is also a great element in our company where we encourage interaction a lot.

The Hanoi Talks series has become quite popular, inviting presenters from near or far from the architecture world to come and talk with our team and the design communities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

If you wanted to advise a young person on the most inspirational architecture book you’ve read, which book would it be?

Image credit: Courtesy of Khoo Guo Jie

A recent publication “Four Walls and One Roof: The Complex Nature of a Simple Job” by Reiner De Graf (OMA) reveals quite a lot about the working conditions of architects. It is a good start for young people to know what they are getting into!

Of course, a more classical or theoretical reference would be the “Walden” of the superior American writer Henry David Thoreau, about the relationship between the body and the mini-maxi space known as home.

The most inspiring architect (s) of all time for you?

I must say that Le Corbusier challenged to inspire me through discipline, energy and belief that everything can change!

What three buildings or residences in Singapore would you rate as your favorites?

Golden Mile Complex (Architect DP1973 for the mixed concept used initially.

Shangri-La Hotel Garden Wing (Garden WATG Architects in partnership with Archiplan Team), 1978 for its original lush green architecture.

Colonnade (Paul Rudolph + Archiplan Group), 1980 for porous and breathable architectural visions.

To learn more about G8A Architects, visit website.



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