Blank canvas

Identity|Identity May 2020

Blank canvas
Ministry of Design unveils striking all-white concept for traditional Singaporean shophouse which treads the line between the past and the present.
STEVE HILL

Time was of the essence from the moment Colin Seah accepted the challenge of reimagining the interiors of an iconic traditional shophouse in Singapore.

The founder-director of integrated spatial design, interior and architectural firm Ministry of Design (MOD) had just four months to design, source, and fit-out the entire property into four co-living suites on a fixed budget.

So it is no surprise to learn that Seah’s striking all-white concept for what has become the Canvas House in the vibrant Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood was arrived at extremely quickly.

He said: “The idea was formed within 45 minutes of walking the site - it was a clear response to its context and also the pragmatics of time and budget.”

Figment, the developer, had a clearly stated aim of renting out the suites to creative locals or expats for three-to-12 month stays, and for MOD to “do something appealing” as well as come up with “a way for this co-living shophouse to stand out.”

Seah’s response was to conjure up a purely white space which acts as a canvas for the future whilst simultaneously revealing contrasting hints of its historical preservation with glimpses of the original brickwork and timber stair treads.

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Identity May 2020