The Design Blast
The Design Blast
Alan Tay, founding partner of Formwerkz Architects, shares his belief about the transformative power of architecture in effecting change and bettering the world.
Alan Tay

We frequently reboot our computers to get the system running when our patience runs out with lagging responses, but in architecture, the regular “reboot” is mandatory to stay relevant and not become generic. There is nothing wrong with generic, except it can dumb the creative mind.

Architects create form, shapes, spaces, and ambiences, and these are usually functional. However, they can sometimes be uplifting and memorable. I am always thrilled with projects that have the capacity to be a vehicle to engage with deeper issues.

These issues may be about the city, the way we live, or even to level the playing field for the marginalized or forgotten.


In 2013, we had the good fortune to win an open architecture competition where we were handed the opportunity to design the Al-Islah Mosque in Punggol. The big departure for the design of sacred institutions – compared to most secular typologies that I was familiar with – was the sense of transcendence that it needed to impart.

Since ancient times, places of worship are designed to dwarf the human existence and celebrate the gods. Some common elements implicit in religious architecture are the creation of thresholds that delineate the boundary between the sacred and the every day, and spatial constructs that facilitate the performance of rituals and symbolic forms.


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March 2020