2020-10-02 05:50:00.0 2020-10-03 03:59:00.0 1 1 SPH SINCE the Covid-19 pandemic sent the world into crisis mode several months ago, festivals around the world have had to be postponed or cancelled. Thankfully, Archifest - a highlight of the architecture fraternity's calendar - is going on as planned. Organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects, it kicked off on Sept 25 and will run till Oct 31.

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SINCE the Covid-19 pandemic sent the world into crisis mode several months ago, festivals around the world have had to be postponed or cancelled. Thankfully, Archifest - a highlight of the architecture fraternity's calendar - is going on as planned. Organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects, it kicked off on Sept 25 and will run till Oct 31.

Festival director Chong Keng Hua, an associate professor of architecture and sustainable design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, says "going ahead with the festival shows resilience and now is the best time to show what architecture can do".

This year's theme - Architecture Saving Our World - is befitting of the world's situation now, although Dr Chong says, it was thought up even before the pandemic hit.

He adds that the theme is not about the grandness of buildings, but new ideas and responsible designs that deal with issues such as climate change, public health, social equity and cultural continuity.

"Architecture impacts us all, and we want the festival to be an opportunity for everyone − architects or not − to be able to join in the fun and participate in a collective effort to save our world through architecture," says Dr Chong.

Unlike previous years, Archifest 2020 is taking on a hybrid format, with events happening offline and online which, while logistically challenging, will allow the festival to reach a wider audience and not be limited by venue and time constraints, he believes. For example, a new feature this year is a series of virtual exhibitions, curated under three themes: Our Shelters, Our Stories and Our Sanctuary. Here, architecture firms and ground-up communities will showcase their projects on topics from architectural typologies to local food production as a way to build food resilience. Some exhibits will also be accompanied by physical pop-ups, while others will be discussed in online forums.

There'll also be virtual pop-ups such as Knocknock: Conversation, an online chat by placemaking studio Shophouse & Co to discuss ways to build stronger communities. Co-founder Stella Gwee says: "The Covid-19 pandemic has changed urban life and spaces. Through our research, we discovered how important it is to foster relationships between next door neighbours. The social connection between communities can safeguard our physical and mental well-being."

Visitors wanting the physical experience will have plenty to do. Among others, check out A-Maze, an interactive pop-up installation at Tanjong Pagar set up by the URA to make public spaces more fun, or join a community gardening session at the Biodiverse Edible Garden at Jurong Central Park.

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<![CDATA[ Architecture to save the world ]]>