Genealogy of Architectural Practices in Singapore [G.A.P.S.]
Exactly a decade ago, I found a copy of a genealogy map that was circulating around MKPL Architects’ office, the firm where I started as a young graduate. My inquisitive nature got me so captivated by the map that I began tracing all my favorite architects’ employment history and finding out who they worked for and with whom. A decade on, I find myself contributing to the growth of this map with peers who have set up their practices in the last decade. I may have come full circle with this updated map but the practice landscape continues to grow.
There are myriad ways our industry and profession has evolved. By quantifying, categorising and indexing some key information of each practice, we begin to see connections, lineages and growth that give us a clearer picture of some aspects of this evolution. Understanding the size of our architectural fraternity in this way, we think, may inflect the way we read the history of Singapore architecture. Like in a family tree, every new family that spawns within is a momentous event.
The staggering number of new practices incorporated in the last decade – 395, as provided by the Board of Architects in August 2022- gives one account of the state of our profession. One way of finding out where they are headed is to find out where they were from. Most, if not all, could call on mentors and practical experience at other firms before charting their own course, as their origin stories. For this reason, we decided on a scroll format that could not only grow but also show the lineages, offshoots and flowering splinters in a chronological order. We hope this format allows the continuous recording of the continuous growth of Singapore’s architecture fraternity.
I believe in the importance of lineage. Like other disciplines of art, individual growth and mastery stem from and contribute to a healthy diversity of communities of practice. The act of charting the various lineages allows us an overview of our profession – both in its breadth as well as the depth of how far we have come and the road ahead.
In this new digital version of GAPS 2.0, we have also decided to include the listing of each architect's respective mentors. Collated from information volunteered by individual practitioners, we feel it is a tacit acknowledgement of these even less visible mentor linkages pertinent to the success of these architects in addition to their work mentors.
The SIA GAPS 2.0 team would like to express our gratitude to Prof Fung John Chye and his team that initiated this project back in 2013. The original map brought numerous delightful insights upon which we built this next working draft. The prompt responses to our many queries during the last year attests to Prof Fung’s generosity, without which no such map – original and current- could be drawn.
On a personal note, I would also like to thank my two staffs Loo Quan Le and Reid Tan as well as SIA secretariat Dinah Qistina for working alongside with me on this arduous project together with Aaron Choo from Vast. Taking this opportunity to also thank the SIA60 committee - Adrian Lai, Wong Ker How, Melvin Tan, Tiah Nan Chyuan, Melvin Keng and Tan Szue Hann for entrusting this meaningful project to me.
This is only the beginning. Seeing the shoots of a very meaningful picture we hope to reveal to the whole architecture fraternity and society at large, we hope all members are encouraged and excited to participate. We hope to be able to look forward to more contributions from firms to make this project more robust and comprehensive. I personally remain hopeful that this exercise is key to tightening up our community bonds, as a foundation for everything else we are trying to achieve together.
Lastly, we hope you will enjoy scrolling through this new edition of GAPS 2.0 and like me all those years back, discover and delight in the many bonds we share.
Lim Shing Hui
Chairperson for GAPS 2.0
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