Singapo(ren): Discovering Chinese Singaporean Culture
Client: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
We were asked to transform 6000 square feet of space into a permanent exhibition that creates a Chinese Singaporean identity for youths. The exhibition will continually be updated each year to keep up with cultural trends and last for 5 years. The goal was to deliver 5 zones of historical and cultural bilingual content while maintaining the interest of youths. As an added challenge, most youths in Singapore are often disconnected from Chinese Singaporean culture and perceive it to be irrelevant and dated.
To engage youths who do not identify with Chinese Singaporean culture, we needed to show them that they too are a part of culture. So we designed an exhibition that not only shows how Chinese Singaporean culture impacts them but also allows visitors to actively ‘shape culture through’ two-way interactions.
Visitors use RFID wristbands to mark their opinions, unlock experiences and play games. This, in turn, impacts the exhibition’s dynamic displays. At the end, visitors generate a personalized snapshot of their cultural footprint along with recommendations for cultural experiences beyond the exhibition. Insights are also drawn from each visitor’s interactions to guide the exhibit’s continual refresh, creating an exhibition that is always on the pulse of culture.
The exhibition is titled Singapo人, a bilingual pun on Singaporean as 人 is pronounced as ren. 人 means people in Chinese and refers to how culture is a product of its people. Therefore, the gallery’s design borrows from the curves of 人 as a recurring spatial and branding motif.
The exhibition takes visitors from the past to the future through 5 zones. Although the overall look is contemporary, each zone’s material choice and experience are meaningful nods to different time periods and content takeaways.
- Entrance – The exhibition kicks off with an 18-screen video tunnel to showcase the complexity of culture and asks visitors to seek their own answers as they embark.
- Zone 1 – Rounded Chinese clan pillars and a modern take on shophouse signboards calls back to Singapore’s colonial past.
- Zone 2 – A room made of old doors and letterboxes salvaged from a public residence built during Singapore’s early independence, the zone preserves 60s Singapore with a surrealist touch and invites exploration.
- Zone 3 – A supersized present-day hawker-table comes to life, projecting the origin of a rich culinary culture.
- Zone 4 – Forward-looking, a wall of glass bricks leads into a tunnel of “shopping windows” awash with a gentle pink glow.
- Zone 5 – The future is a blank canvas for all within this white and metallic space. Chinese Singaporean best-ofs rove overhead on a conveyor system across sprawling contextual projections.
WHAT WE DID
- Content Development
- Creative Direction
- Exhibition Design
- Interactive Design
- Interior & Spatial Design
- Construction & Build