SIA Conference 2017

Building agency emphasizes the facilitating and building up of agency and citizen participation through architecture. It foregrounds the agency of buildings as important materials and spaces of urban life. It is about an empowerment of the people as active agents in the making of our built environment.

Architecture, in terms of building, is typically understood as a container of space and activities, as receptacles of memories and aspirations. It has been presented as a monument to an idea or an ideal, a symbol for a collective. The highly mediatized events, socio-political and economic shifts of the last decade have reinforced yet challenged these long-held notions of architecture and inadvertently impacted the practice and the education of the architect. Alongside increasing specialization of expertise and digitization of scopes of work, the collaborative nature of architectural practice has come to the fore. New multi-disciplinary practices have emerged, predicated on the energies of collaboration and networking in which architectural knowledge and design is crucial but not necessarily central. In advanced societies, architects, urban designers and planners grapple with the escalating cries of the people – often through interests groups and activists – for more engaging, meaningful and inclusive public spaces, and still respond to state regulations on urban vigilance.

More than ever, architectural biennales, exhibitions and festivals have emphasized the city’s engagement with its citizenry. This necessitates the question of stake-holding, beyond the simple triad of client-architect-user: Who are the stakeholders of the architecture of building? How can stakeholding be more equitable in terms of the acknowledgements of intellectual and labour production? How can architecture be an agent for empowerment and dissemination without compromising on aesthetic and value? In conception, process, execution and sustainability, what is the agency and potential agencies of architecture? In what ways can we nurture our children to be accountable and critically-minded stakeholders of the urban environment?

The festival will be a platform to create a network of multiple stakeholders of the built environment – from government institutions to academies to architects and their clients and patrons to NGOs, think tanks to individuals and user groups – to engage in meaningful conversations and creative co-production.

The Conference is an open platform for conversations between local and overseas architects and academics on the issue of “Building Agency” through presentations and panel discussions as the industry and students gather together to discuss the impact of architecture in the city and the importance of engaging the multiple stakeholders in the conception, production, inhabitation and maintenance of architecture.


08:45 Delegate Registration
09:30 Opening Ceremony Welcome Addresses by

Edward Liu
(Group Managing Director, Conference & Exhibition Management Services Pte Ltd)

Ong Tze Boon
(President, Singapore Institute of Architects) Nelson Tee (President, Specialists Trade Alliance of Singapore & Micro Builders Association Singapore)

Tony Khoo
(President, International Facility Management Association Singapore Chapter)

Opening Address by Guest-of-Honour
Mr Desmond Choo (Mayor, North East District, & Chairman, North East Community Development Council)
10:00 Keynote Speech
Liu Pao Chuen (Professor & Former Chief Defense Scientist)
11:00 SIA Conference Programme
Introduction by Archifest Director Eunice Seng
11:15 Panel 1—
The Built Environment and Building Agency

Introduction of Panel 1 Speakers:
Rita Soh (Director, RDC Architects)
Nasrine Seraji (Principal, Atelier Seraji; Professor at HKU Arch, Hong Kong)
Ho Puay Peng (Professor & Head, NUS Arch, Singapore)

Q&A and Discussion
12:45 Lunch
13:45 Coffee & Tea break
03:45 Panel 2—
Architecture and Cultivating Community

Introduction of Panel 2 Speakers
Peter Sim (Director, FARM, Singapore)
Eleena Jamil (Principal, EJA, Kuala Lumpur)
Twitee Vajrabhaya (Principal, Department of Architecture Co, Bangkok)

Q&A and Discussion
15:15 Coffee/Tea Break
15:45 Panel 3—
Architecture and Critical Practice

Introduction of Panel 3 Speakers:
Richard Hassell (Co-Founding Director, WOHA, Singapore)
Brigitte Shim (Principal, Shim-Sutcliffe Architects; Professor, University of Toronto)
16:45 Q&A and Roundtable Discussion
17:45 Conference Closed


Early Bird
(Till 5 Sept)
(from 6 Sep to 2 Oct)
SIA Member Rates SGD $100.00 SGD $190.00
Non-Member Rates SGD $200.00 SGD $380.00

Group discount: For every 5 paid tickets, the 6th will be complimentary (must be of lowest value)
Rates include 1 tea break and a no-pork-no-lard buffet lunch

Rita Soh

Ms Rita Soh is the Managing Director of RDC Architects Pte Ltd. Rita Soh graduated with honours from National University of Singapore in 1987. In 2011, she obtained her Master of Science (Sustainable Building Design) from University of Nottingham (UK). This is to reinforce her strong belief in the need to have all buildings designed sustainably, with good environmental comforts for its occupants as well as to use mother earth’s natural resources responsibly. As the Managing Director of RDC Architects Pte Ltd, Rita Soh has been involved in many feasibility studies, competition proposals, design and detailing of residential, resort and commercial projects, both local and overseas, and project management. Regionally, she is Chairman for Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) Committee for Social Responsibility (2015-2017). Rita Soh served as President, Board of Architects Singapore for 6 years (2010-2015) and a Nominated Member of Parliament (12th Session) (2014-2015). She was also President of the Singapore Institute of Architects from 2004-2007 and was instrumental in establishing a Blueprint for the architectural profession in its pursuit of Architectural Excellence as well as a Pro-Enterprise approach in architecture.

Puay-Peng Ho

Puay-Peng Ho is currently Professor of Architecture and Head of Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore. Prior to joining NUS, Ho was Professor of Architecture and served as Director of School of Architecture and University Dean of Students at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He received Master of Art in Architectural Studies (First Class Honours) and Diploma of Architecture from the University of Edinburgh, and practiced architecture in Edinburgh and Singapore. Subsequently, Puay-Peng Ho took up PhD research at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. In the last 25 years, Puay-peng Ho researched and published in the areas of Buddhist art and architecture, Chinese architectural history, vernacular architecture and history of modern architecture in China and Hong Kong. He was conservation consultant, architect and adviser to some 100 conservation projects in Hong Kong, ranging from PMQ, Haw Par Villa, Comix Homebase, Oil Street Art Space, Court of Final Appeal, Former French Mission Building to New Campus for Chicago University Booth School. Puay-peng Ho was also appointed to many public and private boards and committee, including as Chairman of the Lord Wilson Heritage Trust, member of Town Planning Board, Antiquities Advisory Board, Housing Authority. He was appointed Justice of the Peace by Hong Kong SAR Government. Currently, Professor Ho is appointed as a Patron of International Dunhuang Project, British Library.

Nasrine Seraji

Nasrine Seraji, AA dipl RIBA, is founder and principal of Atelier Seraji Architectes et Associés (asaa) and Professor and Head of the Department of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong. After studying at the Architectural Association and practising in London, Seraji moved to Paris and established her studio where architecture is treated as both a cultural debate and a critical practice. Since, she has pursued a path constantly enriched by her simultaneous engagement in architectural practice, teaching, and research. She has taught and directed many schools globally, she has lectured and exhibited her work widely in Europe and North America, the Middle East as well as China and South East Asia. She is a recipient of many medals, notably Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur, in 2016 she became Officier de l’Ordre Nationale du Mérite and most recently she received the distinction of Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Peter Sim

Peter Sim is a Director at FARM. FARM is a creative house active in the design and curation of architecture, interiors, products, public spaces, exhibitions, installations and community projects. FARM also runs an online store selling and distributing Singapore designed products. Following his graduation from the National University of Singapore in 1997, he worked in Singapore and London for several years. Since 2005, FARM has worked on community projects which promote the arts. It organises national public art competitions and events. In 2007, FARM established its cross disciplinary design arm. Often in collaboration with artists and designers, it works on a diverse range of projects. These include architecture & interior design, product design & merchandising, graphic design & branding, art installation & sculpture, exhibition design & curatorial work. FARM was awarded the President’s Design Award in 2010 for its interactive installation “The Tree”. Peter is also passionate about design education and is a Design Tutor at the School of Architecture at the National University of Singapore.

Eleena Jamil

Eleena Jamil is the principal of Eleena Jamil Architect (EJA), an architectural practice based in Kuala Lumpur. Eleena trained at the Welsh School for Architecture in Cardiff, United Kingdom where she went on to obtain her Masters degree focussing was on urban housing, and later, a PhD with the thesis titled Rethinking Modernism: the Sugden House and the Mother’s House. Projects developed by EJA such as the Bamboo Playhouse, Sepang House and the Millennium School project have been widely published in international press and received international recognition from the Leaf Awards, World Architecture Festival and American Architecture Prize.

Twittee Vajrabhaya

Twitee Vajrabhaya is one of the two principals of a Bangkok based design studio: Department of ARCHITECTURE Co.,Ltd. She received a Bachelor of Architecture summa cum laude from Virginia Tech and earned a Master of Architecture from Princeton University. Her works include projects in Thailand and abroad which have been published widely. During her career, she has won several national and international architecture awards including an Outstanding Award in Architectural Design from the Association of Siamese Architects under Royal Patronage (ASA), a winner of Blueprint Award (UK), a highly commended honor for the World Architecture Festival (WAF), etc.

Richard Hassell

Richard Hassell is the co-Founding Director of WOHA, a design practice based in Singapore. He graduated from the University of Western Australia in 1989, and was awarded a Master of Architecture degree from RMIT University, Melbourne, in 2002. He has lectured at many universities, and served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia. Architectural awards received by WOHA include the 2007 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the 2010 International Highrise Award, 2011 RIBA Lubetkin Prize and World Architecture Festival awards in 5 different categories in 2009, 2010 and 2016. Four monographs have been published on WOHA’s projects to date. “‘Garden City Mega City”, a summation of their template for rethinking architecture and cities for the 21st century was published in 2016. “Breathing Architecture”, an exhibition devoted exclusively to their works opened at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Germany in December 2011 and thereafter travelled to Taiwan in 2012-2013. WOHA also curated the “Garden City Mega City” exhibition at The Skyscraper Museum in New York in March - September 2016, which also traveled to Mexico for the Mextropoli Festival from March – April 2017.

Brigitte Shim

Brigitte Shim, along with her partner, A. Howard Sutcliffe, are both principals in the design firm Shim-Sutcliffe Architects. Brigitte Shim is also a professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. Shim-Sutcliffe’s built work explores the integration and interrelated scales of architecture, landscape and furniture fittings. To date, Shim and Sutcliffe have received fourteen Governor General’s Medals and Awards for Architecture from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and an American Institute of Architects National Honor Award. In January 2013, Brigitte Shim and her partner A. Howard Sutcliffe were both awarded the Order of Canada, “for their contributions as architects designing sophisticated structures that represent the best of Canadian design to the world.”