Home For The Arts 2.0
With the announcement of the permanent closure of The Substation, the artistic community lost its former home. Nevertheless, under the current context of the global city’s Renaissance City Plan, they still need another platform to nurture local talents beyond the mainstream. The frequent emergence of art spaces in industrial buildings suggests the feasibility of reinventing “A Home for the Arts.” In addition, with the rapid development of science and technology, the specialization trend in industrial buildings has led to the increasing vacancy rate of those ageing ones. Given the scarcity of land in Singapore, revitalizing multi-storey industrial buildings is still necessary.
As a private-owned flatted factory, Tan Boon Liat Building’s design flexibility hints at its rich possibilities — where art practices may take root. Therefore, the interior space is re-divided under the premise of maintaining the original building structure as much as possible, new programmes are introduced, and the site is redesigned using the original parking lots. In addition to artist studios, art-related programmes such as art market, art school, art auction, conservation, and logistics are introduced, which not only promotes art production but also promotes art consumption so that the independent artists and art groups could be self-sufficient to maintain their artistic practice. A hotel and a hostel are also introduced, and some of the original furniture shops in the building are kept to create a mutually beneficial ecosystem: generating long-term income and exposure for the artists and art groups while also bringing a unique artistic experience to the public.
Home for the Arts 2.0 (Huo Yujia) is a conscientious and robust response to the recent untimely and unceremonious demise of The Substation, Singapore’s pioneering ground-up art space. Informed by intensive research into the roots of community-led art spaces before the dominance of state-sponsorship and control, it asks the fundamental question ‘What should an independent arts space that does not centre on state funding, look like? The thesis proposes the adaptation of Tan Boon Liat Building, an iconic 1970s flatted factory, into a mixed-use arts incubator space with studios, residences, auction house, galleries, markets, topped by a boutique arts hotel enveloped within an overarching sharing and collaborative ecology. ‘Stacks’ with surgical remodelling are created to accommodate the segments within the TBLC. Located at the fringe of Tiong Bahru estate, there is high potential for the site to become a new city fringe urban anchor, and an unfettered ‘Home for the Arts’.
- Adj. Senior Lecturer, Ho Weng Hin