My lasting impression of Singapore was how adventurous they are with their architecture. One of my favourite buildings had to be the School of the Arts (SOTA). SOTA is one of four independent specialised schools in Sinagpore. Situated at Dhoby Ghaut, it serves as a ‘creative laboratory’ – a place where students create and the results displayed for the public to appreciate.
The brand new campus, which opened at the beginning of this year, is divided into 2 parts. WOHA, the architects of the building, refers to these two spaces as the ‘Backdrop’ and ‘Blank Canvas’. The Blank Canvas is the top half of the building, it provides creative spaces for students to research, create and interact with each other. This is a controlled and secure environment with only a single point of access. The bottom half is the Backdrop, which consists of the concert hall, theatres and performance spaces, fulfilling the need for public access and community engagement.
What initially caught my eye about this building was the signage. It was graphically interesting and I liked how the three-dimensional aspect played with the light and shadows. As I got closer, I was fascinated that it was being built around a tree. It looked like they were in the final stages of construction as a couple of guys were placing the last few steps leading to the main entrance of the school.
My experience with this architecture was similar to the Sydney Opera House. The closer I got to the building, the more it revealed itself to me. From a distance I thought the materials were a combination of concrete, glass and wood. I assumed it was wood because of the colour and visual texture. I also figured it was a way for the architects to create a relationship between the environment and built structure.
I decided to take a closer look. Being the kinesthetic learner that I am, I just had to touch it to get the full experience. To my surprise, what I had thought was wood was actually carved and chiseled stone. Using stone made perfect sense to me. With the hot and humid conditions in Singapore, the solid nature of the stone provided a pleasant shelter and cool environment.
As a creative, it felt like an inspiring place to be creative in. I particularly liked the integration between nature and urban structure.