The Lorong 24a Shophouse series represents a novel art- and design-led approach to conservation and place-making in Singapore.
Story Credit: URA Singapore
The project revolves around 8 conservation shophouses along Lorong 24A Geylang, owned by a single client consortium. The idea was to invite 8 local architects and designers to produce 8 unique concepts with a common brief. The shophouses would be rented out and regular events would be held in the various shophouses to help activate the street, and bring another point of view to Geylang, a renowned redlight district in Singapore.
Pocket Projects was appointed as the creative development consultant for the project. The involvement started from the initial conceptualisation, search and selection of the 8 architects and designers, working closely with the appointed architects on the various projects, subsequent tenant selection to curating events, programming and events planning. This strategic long term involvement in the place-making process was necessary to ensure consistency in terms of the outcome, which often becomes experiential and accumulates from finding the right designers, the selection of the right tenant profiles and down to event management.
In contrast to conventional “top-down” urban planning projects, this scheme is built around a collection of architectural approaches to conservation--in effect, eight complementary proposals for the shophouse. 8 architects and designers took on the challenge and translated this idea into reality. Each shaping their own shophouse according to their interpretation of the common brief. This resulted in an exciting showcase of possibilities where atypical spaces and imagination meets the narrow typology of a shophouse. These homes have been designed to accommodate a shared interest in visual arts, design and media, as a basis for community-building among neighbours. Each unique design attracts its own occupant but as a cluster with common interests in design and the edginess, they form a small but dynamic core, revitalizing the street through open houses, art exhibitions, and social activities to engage longtime residents of the Geylang district as well as others from further afield.
To date 14 events have been held at the project, including student shows, local artist exhibitions, talks, architecture tours, pop-up dinners. The project has reached out to a variety of groups including students, design professionals, tourists, local residents and interested public. Some of which have discovered their influence on the urban fabric, and others who have voiced their support for good architecture. Apart from the restoration work to the shophouses, the new designs have added value and interest to them, by catering to contemporary living needs and offering a strong design attraction.
The project continues to evolve. A different energy has been brought to the street. We hope that the ideas will be contagious and spread to other parts of Singapore. A kind of micro-neighborhood has been started as a result of a design-driven initiative. Recognition of this approach will acknowledge the achievements through design practice and hopefully inspire other collectives or groups to seek out their own neighbourhoods to make a difference.
Video Credit: URA Video
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