Singapore Archifest 2023 brings ideas for moving towards a sustainable future

Singapore Archifest 2023, the 17th edition of the signature annual festival organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), has returned with a diverse line-up of over 80 events.

A preview illustration of Fabric Forest, one of the six installations arranged around Kampong Gelam. Photo courtesy: Singapore Archifest

Inaugurated on September 29, this edition of the Archifest provokes introspection about the adaptability of our built environment to meet the needs and demands of an ever-growing society and solve pressing issues. The line-up of programmes is centred in the historic Kampong Gelam precinct.

The overarching theme of Singapore Archifest 2023 is ‘Interim: Acts of Adaptation’ and it asks the question: as society continues to grow and evolve, can architecture help us navigate these changes and create a more resilient and sustainable future?

Rethinking our built environment as continually being in a state of transition can be an effective response to change.

After the formal inauguration, Archifest visitors were invited to participate in AF Play!, an event that let one step into the shoes of an urban explorer for a day and take on Kampong Gelam through an immersive, outdoor exploration game, whether in teams on Race Day (September 30) or with Evergreen Game (October 1 onwards; available 24/7; free admission).

Other events include AF Installations (on till April 28, 2024), which are spread across Kampong Gelam; Architours (held on Sept 30-Oct 1), tours of Singapore’s best new architectural gems; Cinema beyond Cinema, a session on how cinema has led to remarkable architectural inventions; and Studio BTY Children’s Workshop (October 6), where one can build their dream Singapore shophouse.

AF Play! is an immersive, outdoor exploration game set in Kampong Gelam. Photo courtesy: Singapore Archifest

Leading the curation of Archifest 2023 is its festival director, Calvin Chua, who is the founder of local design practice Spatial Anatomy and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

The Archifest director said, “The city is a testbed, with architects as agents of change. This year’s festival is a lab for experimenting and demonstrating the Interim. Evident in our planning and policy language, Singapore is no stranger to the Interim with our range of discrete, stopgap interventions facilitating the transformation of our city.”

The Singapore Archifest 2023 theme, ‘Interim: Acts of Adaptation’, asks how architecture can help navigate social changes. Photo courtesy: Singapore Archifest

Paying tribute to the old and new

For the first time, Singapore Archifest has activated a cultural precinct to embed meaningful architectural discourse into the physical landscape of the city. With its unique blend of modern and traditional outlooks, and rich history tracing Singapore’s national development, Kampong Gelam precinct was chosen as the festival’s nexus to create a playground for experimentation and dialogue.

The festival’s traditional pavilion format has been turned on its head and reimagined as AF Installations, a series of six dispersed urban installations around Kampong Gelam, in the spirit of adaptability in an “Interim” future.

A preview illustration of Dulang-Dulang, a part of the AF Installations series. Photo courtesy: Singapore Archifest

The installations provide meaningful art encounters as visitors meander through the alleyways of Kampong Gelam. At the corner of a traffic intersection leading to the iconic Sultan Mosque, the installation ‘Fabric Forest’ transforms an unused space into a gateway for Kampong Gelam, offering versatile community areas inspired by its pilgrim history, featuring canopies and benches under Angsana trees, echoing the district’s textile charm.

Located at the coach lots at Sultan Gate, ‘Dulang-Dulang’, which is shaped as a long table inspired by the symbolic food trays in Malay culture, is reimagined as a vibrant communal space that celebrates community interaction.

To further immerse visitors, the festival has also partnered with Hidden SG! for AF Play!, which is easily accessible via mobile.

Talking about Archifest, Melvin Tan, President of the Singapore Institute of Architects, said, “As the SIA celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, it is a timely occasion to reflect on the past achievements that have shaped today’s landscape of architectural excellence and what lies for us in the future. Over the years, Archifest remains instrumental in fostering conversations on how architecture and the built environment have the potential to improve the world we live in.”


AF Installations

Wander around Kampong Gelam and spot monochromatic wall murals, ‘Dulang’-inspired hangout spots, woven fabrics encircling our trees – each telling the stories of the bustling district.

30 September 2023 - 28 April 2024
Distributed across 6 sites of Kampong Gelam
Free admission


Studio BTY Children’s Workshop

For both the young and the young at heart! Imagine, cut out, paste, colour and build your dream Singapore shophouse.

6 October 2023
10am-12pm, 2pm-4pm
Festival House L2 | 45, 47 Sultan Gate
Ticketed admission


Cinema beyond Cinema

We are familiar with the cinema, but have you wondered how it intervenes in our urban space and collective memory? Hear from a lineup of architects, developers and cinema operators on how cinema has led to remarkable architectural inventions and land redevelopment strategies.

5 October 2023
Festival House L2 | 45, 47 Sultan Gate
Free Registration

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