President Design Award 2015

Design of the Year: Fugue 1, 3, 5, 7 – Archifest Pavilion 2014

HCF and Associates
Fong Hoo Cheong
Jason Lee Shiuh Liang
Jonathan Lin Dongwei



“There is no perfect design, only a perfect connoisseur of design.”

Everyday objects have long inspired artists and architects. The idea for Jan Utzon’s design for the sails of his iconic Sydney Opera House, for instance, came from the sectional peel of an orange. But by any yardstick, HCF and Associates’ winning entry for Archifest 2014, the Singapore Institute of Architects’ annual architectural festival, was extraordinary. “I wanted to make a monument of the everyday in the context of the intensely luxuriant,” says Fong Hoo Cheong of HCF and Associates. Certainly, it is a sentiment that resonated on every level. For the steady flow of crowds that streamed through the twisting right-angled ribs of the Fugue 1, 3, 5, 7, it was easy to forget that the entire pavilion was constructed from plastic stools, the kind commonly found in coffee shops. The logistics and budget for the construction of the Fugue were daunting. Working within an incredibly tight 10-day period, a team of architects, engineers and lighting consultants hand-assembled 3,885 stools into a translucent white pavilion stitched together with a red annex. A shimmering roof made of silver foil provided shade from the sun, while little fans, unobtrusively inserted into the ʻwallsʼ, offered circulated air.

For the observer wandering within the pavilion, Marina Bay and the glistening skyscrapers of Raffles Place were visible through a porous, tessellated white and red prism. In the evenings, slender lighting rods lit the Fugue, causing it to glow like a lantern from the outside, and a futuristic cathedral from within.

But there was yet another dimension: sound. Pieces of ʻfound soundsʼ were commissioned to play within the Fugue’s chambers, a subtle nod to the pavilion’s musical name.

By using plastic stools, Hoo Cheong turned a budget constraint into an artistic expression. Here, he was influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s predilection for objects that neither attracted nor repelled. “I wanted to make a disjunction between the object and the architectural space. The everyday plastic stool tells us one message, and the architecture tells us another. The observer is surprised by this disjunction.”

For Hoo Cheong, the pavilion was a whimsical piece that was up for only a fortnight before it was disassembled. 
“It was like a mayfly,” he says. “So real when ‘alive’, yet gone in a flash. I saw many wedding couples use the pavilion as a backdrop for their photos. In a small way, the building participated as a timeless moment in someone’s life. I was very pleased with that as it completed the architecture of the design – two dualities, the everyday with the special occasion, the transient and the forever.”