A solid plan
From a home to a national stage, three friends and also partners of ASOLIDPLAN are leaving their imprints in designing spaces for people.
Architects Quck Zhong Yi, Wong Ker How and Lim Jing Feng in the neighbourhood near their office © URA
By Serene Tng
They are friends first and then became partners of ASOLIDPLAN. Initially started by architect Wong Ker How in 2014, Quck Zhong Yi and Lim Jing Feng joined the firm later. It was a confluence of factors in each of their personal lives that drove them to want to start their own practice and somehow, their interests and passions aligned at the right time.
Whether it is being intrigued from growing up in a flat with microclimatic conditions or the way spaces are designed in a neighbourhood temple, all three find fulfilment in the design process and creating outcomes that are impactful.
The architects in their office designed to be open and integrated with elements from outside © URA
The practice enables them to pursue their passions together in wanting to try something different. They have infused their designs with both functional and quirky sensibilities in their range of projects covering houses, apartments, a pool bar and the stage at Marina Bay for the National Day celebrations.
On a rainy morning, their office has a warm glow. With easy banter and a relaxed vibe sitting around their office’s large table similar to the Japanese restaurant’s horigotatsu seating style, the architects reflect on designing spaces for people.
1. How would you describe your approach to design?
Zhong Yi: We want to be as sincere and honest as possible in the way we design, in understanding what people need and want and in relating this to the context of the site. Everything begins with a clear and strong plan.
2. In one of your projects, you have “squared a triangle”.
Ker How: We enjoyed working on this project because of the interesting challenge it presented. It was a flat in Bukit Purmei which had an odd shape with a 45-degree frontage. One of the bedrooms along the common corridor also had a five-sided shape. In spite of the shape, we had to create a sense of spaciousness. The owners wanted to be able to host gatherings for at least 20 people.
So we turned the 45-degree wall into a key space for all the main activities by building another diagonal wall and a full mirror wall to create a triangle that became a full square when reflected. We even designed the sofa in the living room that can be configured to fit different corners, changing from a queen size bed to a day bed or a bench seat for the dining table.
“Squaring the triangle” at Bukit Purmei © Food & Shelter Company
3. You have shown that the design of a stage can have a huge impact on the experience. The National Day celebrations at Marina Bay in 2018 felt both intimate and grand.
Jing Feng: We had the opportunity and privilege to be able to work with Creative Director, Boo Junfeng, in designing the stage for the National Day celebrations. In the past years, the stage was often set to look inwards. But in 2018, given that the developments around the bay were more complete and there was a need for film projections, we wanted to create a stage that enabled people to feel connected and yet be able to enjoy the beautiful skyline and surroundings.
The stage at the National Day celebrations in 2018 at Marina Bay © Fabian Ong
Thus, we created a three-tier plaza with grand steps and ramps leading up to a set of swivel screens to evoke a sense of grandeur. The colours of the water and buildings in Marina Bay were also reflected as pentagon patterns radiating from the centre stage to bring the bay closer to the stage and the show closer to the city.
The plaza with patterns radiating from the centre stage © Fabian Ong
4. What do you find most satisfying about being an architect?
Zhong Yi: It is most rewarding to be able to go through the design journey with cilents and stakeholders. Often, it is an emotional and personal process. And being able to envision spaces and how people use them, adding to their senses and lives, is very satisfying.
5. How do you see the role of architects evolving?
Ker How: Beyond just designing buildings alone, we have to also look at the design of public spaces and the public realm. It is the spaces in between that matter. And it is also about place-making, what you do with the spaces that can engage people and draw them in.
Zhong Yi: Technology is changing the way we design buildings. But even if we are able to leverage on advanced tools such as AI (artificial intelligence), it cannot replace the human dimension of what we do in designing and creating emotive and personal spaces for people.
ASOLIDPLAN’s works are on display at an inaugural exhibition, “Small Firms, Big Ideas” at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)’s new AUDE Space until 20 August 2019. The exhibition showcases the works of eight architectural firms through models, images and drawings that reimagine and rethink spaces and landscapes around Singapore.
Located at The URA Centre’s first storey atrium at 45 Maxwell Road, the dedicated exhibition space seeks to inspire good architecture and design in Singapore as part of URA’s Architecture & Urban Design Excellence (AUDE) programme. It will also share new ideas and best practices in improving the quality of the built environment.
For more information about the AUDE Space, go to URA.sg/aude.