Jacqueline Tjen
Reconciliation | Man | Nature

Thesis Supervisor: Dr. ​Ho Puay Peng

Consumerism as a global phenomenon is one that has been evolving through the times, and it takes on different meanings with every new generation. It is a way in which people seek for affirmation in order to establish an identity through the channels of fashion, social valuations and images portrayed. The process of consumption connects an individual to a community and cultivates their sense of purpose and individual value in the globalised context. The contemporary society is now seeing a fundamental shift in consumer values – consumers now place considerable value on experiences, instead of on material objects, which can bring about happiness and well-being. Businesses have picked up on these trends and are now focusing on amplifying and fine-tuning the consumer experience by creating more intimate encounters and providing for personalised services. 

The thesis project seeks to foster a deeper level of consumerism among consumers by emphasizing on the sensorial experience of consumption, bringing back the symbiotic and complementary relationship of man and nature, while capitalising on the potential of the former Kallang Air Base as a site rich in history and memory.  The Kallang Airport is Singapore’s first commercial international airport building which was in operation between 1937 and 1955. The compound serves as a symbol of modernity which propelled Singapore forward as a cosmopolitan society. The proposal seeks to mediate the gap between the modern and the conserved, offering users a seamless transition through the precinct. 

Programmes centered around equestrian activities and holistic wellness have been introduced to the site, to reveal and embrace the scenic elements around the Kallang precinct, providing a safe haven for athletes and members of the public  to take a breather away from the bustle of the city. 

The architectural history of the conserved buildings on the site of the former Kallang air base serve as an anchor to present an interesting synergy between the past and the future.  

Connectivity

The chosen site is currently isolated, and is not easily accessible via the transport nodes in the area. Hence, design was considered on an urban scale by creating a pathway from Kallang MRT to the site which passes through the Old Kallang Airport Gateway, enhancing the user experience as one approaches the site. The project extends to include the grasslands and the Kallang stream as a part of the outdoor riding experience that the public can enjoy. 

The chosen site of the former Kallang Airport has largely been excluded from Singapore’s masterplanning endeavours of the Kallang precinct- a massive lost opportunity due to the history of the site and the conserved buildings, and the memories they are able to evoke. 

The new built seeks to serve as a transitional space, creating easy and flexible access to the site from the Sports Hub and the Kallang MRT station. Rejuvenation of the site is done by introducing new programmes which are complementary to the current sporting facilities available at the Sports Hub. 

The disconnect between the existing structures of the Sports Hub and the Kallang Airport can be attributed to the lack of pedestrian crossings on ground level. Hence, the decision was made to sink a segment of Nicoll Highway, so as to restore the ground floor connection between the two sites.

 The new built serves as a transitionary space between the two key spaces for the public to linger and move around, allowing for fluid pedestrian crossovers. The approach to the site was the key aspect of consideration when designing the new structure, due to the vast difference in scale between the sports hub and the terminal building. 

The undulating roof serves as a backdrop for the terminal building, restoring its pressence and grandeur from the front approach. The facade was designed to complement and accentuate the conserved buildings on the North facade, while the side facing the Sports Hub is more varied and dynamic with operable metal panels.

The new built straddles two spaces with vastly different experiences and atmospheres- the design of the Sports Hub is distinctly modern and commercialised, while the conserved buildings lie on the other end of the spectrum, such as the terminal building which was constructed in the Streamline Moderne style.

Mediation

The architectural challenge thus lies in designing to mediate the scale of the buildings, while being sensitive to the conserved structures. Thus a light structure was conceived, such that the design plays a complementary role to highlight the splendour of the conserved buildings.

Rejuvenation

The curved ribbon structure lightly and sensitively wraps around the conserved buildings, while the reflecting pool and amphitheatre provide a space for the public to view activities and special performances. The restaurant on the 2nd storey introduces public programmes as an attempt to rejuvenate the site.

As a symbolic keeper of the nation’s national memory, the Kallang Airport expresses the passage of time, and serves as the link between the past and the future. The former terminal building is an iconic structure which is an expression of modern architectural styles, a reflection of the contemporary technological advancements, machinery, and aircrafts. 

The cylindrical glass control tower displays elements typical to designs of the International Style with its horizontal lines, streamlined curves, transparent glazed walls, and minimal ornamentation which emphasize the transparency and apparent ‘lightness’ of structure.