Review of Deconstructive Architecture in Singapore

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Every great city tells us a story about its people. Florence is the hub of art because of the free thinking nature the city has had historically, London embodies the culture of the West with people advocating rationality and appreciating art, Benaras reeks of spirituality with devotees of God surrendering their lives to His service. However, Singapore as a city, with its eclectic mix of colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses, and cutting-edge skyscrapers doesn’t really convey what it stands for. Singapore, in this highly globalized world, stands as a country that has made it big against the odds. It has no resources of its own except human resource. Converting a society of illiterate fishermen to a formidable and talented workforce required vision. It required great flexibility and great functionality. Deconstruction as a form of architecture will capture the flexibility and functionality that Singapore and Singaporeans have displayed historically.

Singapore’s culture

Singapore, culturally, can boast of its diversity. It has an amalgamation of both Asian and European cultures, influenced heavily by South Asian, East Asian, and British cultures. It has a population of approximately five million people, consisting of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Caucasians, Eurasians as well as other Asians of different origins. In addition, 42% of Singapore’s population comprises foreigners. This adds to its diversity significantly.

Singapore’s attitude and beliefs form a major part of the country’s character and background. In its extremely brief history it has made a mark on the globe because of its meritocratic culture – ensuring that the best and the brightest get the opportunity to maximize their potential irrespective of gender, caster, or race. Because it is a highly harmonious community, both socially and religiously, Singapore has managed to be politically stable. Finally, Singapore stands for democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality as depicted in the flag of the nation.

All in all, Singapore’s culture is sort of a gateway between the east and the west. However, one should not mistake it to be a culture of the east or the west. It is a whole new culture it has developed based on its principal, making it a highly functional and versatile powerhouse in the global setting.

Architecture in Singapore

The architecture of Singapore, as mentioned before, consists of various colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses, and cutting-edge skyscrapers. To me, the story the city says is that Singapore lacks its own individual identity. It has borrowed its culture from the east and the west.

However, this is a misrepresentation of Singapore because it has a unique identity. Singapore’s true identity, in my opinion, comes out from architectural structures like Gardens by the Bay, Reflections at Keppel Bay, and Arts and Science Museum. These deconstructive pieces show a development closer to human beings, by not characterizing the standards of life and behavior. It truly reflects what one thinks after reading about Singapore’s history – how could they make it so big against the odds, how could the build such a thriving nation out of almost nothing. (Anon., 2012)

Deconstructive architecture – encapsulating the Singaporean identity

How can the conventional rectangular shape be perfect for a house, work, sex / rest, or slashing off the meat? Doubtlessly the above human exercises contrast in the choreographic development of the body in performing the capacities, yet indistinguishable types of spaces encompass them. The main logic for proposing deconstruction as a form of architecture is that each function is distinguishable by the space or architecture. (NOOBANJONG, 2003)

One could contend that the rectangular structure appears to relate more with the furniture shape than the real human component. This relocation brings up an alternate major issue in regards to the obligation of a planner – is the way of a designer to surrender to the apparatus' obstacles or is it the opposite, to test their shape, mode or a method for utilizing it? Innovation is quickly changing to suit the testing needs of the client yet building design still stays in accordance with the geometrical parameters of the furniture possessing the space without changing them to suit the needs of the client. (Anon., 2012)

Frank Gehry, one of the pioneers of deconstruction once said:

Moving onto establishing my point about Singapore, it is a city that constantly pursues to stay aware of the times. However, architecturally, there is nothing really special that one could relate to Singapore. It's only an unending parade of fresh, new attractions and splendid glossy things. This is not at all like major urban areas like New York or London where the character of the city radiates through its architecture and leaves a vital impression that they aren't only just another city.

For instance, Times Square in New York is a standout amongst the most historic and significant places in the whole world. It showers you with remarkable vitality, which you promptly feel you know like the back of your hand, as if you had constantly lived here. The moment you arrive here, you consider anything with the exception of turning back.

However, the case is completely different in Singapore. In fact, in recent times, numerous people have begun voicing out their worries of the disintegration of Singaporean identity as it has become more cosmopolitan. They ponder whether Singapore as a worldwide city can carry on being an endearing home. However, globalization is an essential for Singapore’s survival. Globalization is what has prompted the quick rate of improvement in the economy, permitting Singapore to ascend from an underdeveloped country to a first world country in a couple of decades. Globalization is undoubtedly digging in for the long haul; therefore as opposed to attempting to break the divider, why not use it to our good fortune. Case-in-point why, not adapt deconstruction as the architectural language and use it to our advantage, encapsulating Singapore’s identity both as an endearing home as well as a global workplace. (Anon., 2012)

Deconstructive Architecture does not intend to make famous structures. It endeavors to make memorable experiences in them, which very few structures in Singapore can successfully accomplish.

Lasalle College of the Arts is a fine example of deconstructive architecture. As a student of the college, I can say that it’s not just the structure of the building that awes me, but the fact that the structure adds to the memories and makes it more than just a school where I work. It helps in creating an atmosphere of creativity and symbolizes what the students in the college are meant to do. Unlike various other art schools in Singapore, which do not emit the vibe of a creative workspace, but are just like any other conventional building.

Deconstructive architecture encourages creation of dynamic spaces, promoting interactions between one and another as opposed to uniform spaces. Critics, though, often claim that such architecture is a ‘purely formal exercise with little social significance and ambiguous meaning’. In my humble opinion, however, deconstructivist architecture is based on sound philosophy, has transformed the field of architecture, and definitely has a great deal of social significance. (GOLDBERGER, 1983)

For instance, Daniel Libeskind's first private venture in Asia, 'Reflections at Keppel Bay, Singapore' is an inventive interplay of changing planes and reflections. It is a two-million-square-foot private residential area, consisting of 6 skyscraper towers running from 24 and 41 stories and 11 low-rise villas of 6–8 floors– an aggregate of 1,129 units. It challenges the innate way of high-density residential projects with its inventive way to outline design. The particular structure and intelligent appearance caught my eye, and I trust it has now not only gotten to be a symbol of Keppel Bay, but also creates another mark for the greater Singapore.

Here beneath is a portion from the architects website:

Once deconstruction is accepted and applied, the next step would be to encourage locals to study and practice this style of architecture. While significant endeavors are being carried out right now to liven up expressions of the artistic scenes to life, majority of it is executed by foreign talents, instead of nurturing grassroots art and craft. Singapore's extremely qualified and preservationist workforce delivers way too many bankers and engineers than designers, sports or cultural talents. If Singapore adopts the deconstructivist architecture regime as its own, more individuals would probably choose the realm of design and architecture, focusing on art rather than economics, leading to holistic growth for the society and country.


Proponents of Deconstructive Architecture appreciate it because of its creativity and inventive freshness that it creates through new rules in architecture. Deconstructivist architecture has managed to find its own place in the world of architecture. It has also proven that it still retains social significance and recognition amongst the public. This can be illustrated by the demand of modern and different impressive buildings that are highly functional instead of generic rectangular buildings. A large number of well known architects undertaking such projects, that require out-of-the-box thinking also helps in establishing how it is being perceived in the current scenario. Apart from impressing and attracting, these structures are functional and structurally stable and help create memorable experiences.

Deconstructive Architecture does not commend stones, block, mortar or steel. It praises life in spaces kept by materials. Deconstructive Architecture is not a shut portion. That is the reason its building design will keep on energizing, horrifying, surprising and causing a response. Ergo, Singapore should readily accept this tool that investigates a style and searches for ways to enrich it. (NOOBANJONG, 2003)


References from books and websites:

Anon., 2012. Deconsructive Life. [Online] Available at:

Anon., 2015. Deconstructivist Architecture, 25 Years Later. [Online] Available at:

Anon., 2015. libeskind | My Blog City by Vincent Loy. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 2015].

Craven, J., 2015. Is Frank O. Gehry really a pain in the architecture?. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 2015].

GOLDBERGER, P., 1983. In: On the rise. s.l.:s.n.

NOOBANJONG, K., 2003. Power, identity, and the rise of modern architecture. In: s.l.:s.n., p. 447.

Ong, C., 2015. Building world-class architecture in Singapore. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 25 March 2015].