What is a major project you completed in 2020?
I would consider completing 2020 in itself a major project given how the world has changed and continues to do so. Such challenging times have also proved to us how resilient we can be, as long as we put our minds to it. This has also presented an opportune time for us to bring forward and accelerate some of our long-term plans to provide more value to our partners.
What is the most important architectural lesson COVID-19 has taught you?
COVID-19 reminded us that architecture can neither pre-empt nor lead our lives. It is but a medium that enables a certain set of outcomes within its context. Inevitably, the pandemic has altered how space is used. Building owners have a renewed focus on wellness and with a change in their brief as well as the new world we live in today, there will be new strategies, products and features to tackle design post-COVID-19. At a deeper level, the pursuit of providing design solutions that are relevant to the context as well as able to enrich and transform people’s lives does not change.
What can we expect from RSP in 2021?
We have a renewed focus on pursuing the most fundamental part of our work: “design-ness”. This is an empathetic desire to explore and connect with whatever you are designing, and make it better for people. It covers both the aesthetic realm as well as the functional aspect, that looks at everything from its relationship to the macro environment, to the resources you have on hand to work on it. Therefore, “design-ness” will create that understanding of architecture’s role as a medium and the architect’s role as the mind behind that medium. This is ultimately what makes our work purposeful and will live on for longer than any of us. We will also be focused on drawing out the best outcome from the entire firm. This will be enabled by increased investment and accelerated implementation of our digital and technical initiatives, as well as a new dynamic workplace strategy that will support the incubation of ideas and push new frontiers.
Completed project in 2020: Bewboc House was finished recently. The project has a vaulted-shaped pavilion with a series of platforms attached to the existing house at an angle, to allow different layers of light to penetrate. At the end of the pavilion are two large timbre doors that open out into the garden, extending the space into the outdoors. I wanted to create a sense of continuity, and that could only be achieved by making the wall and ceiling as “one”. The resulting shape that came to mind was an arch. This idea could also be inspired by my childhood fascination for caves and primal living.
Lessons learnt: COVID-19 has taught me to prioritise staying focused and time management. Although the lockdown has caused our work to slow down tremendously, I have also gained a lot through reflection and contemplation of my ideas around architecture. This was something I did not do previously, as it is not easy to focus on these thoughts in a world filled with noise and distraction. I’ve also realised that how you choose to spend your time – on work, life and relationships – is a choice that requires mindfulness.
Looking ahead: I am very excited for 2021, as our firm is busy with small and larger projects that range from terrace houses to bungalows. We are also doing some new commercial projects, so the outlook is very positive.
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