Art Connector
The Art Connector brings the public to art and to the nation’s
two most prominent monuments. It connects two realms: the mundane with the cultural,
the everyday with art, the public with the state’s monuments.
Size: 2,100 square metres  /   Location: Singapore  /   Year: Completion 2015
Type: Culture, Sculpture   /  Services: Architecture   /  Award: Winner of The Art Connector Competition (Invited)
Team: Peter Sim, Kenneth Koh, Cheung Yuting   /  Collaborators: Grace Tan, Dr. Lilian Chee   /  Photographer: Darren Soh
 
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The Art Connector brings the public to art and to the nation’s two most prominent monuments. It connects two realms: the mundane with the cultural, the everyday with art, the public with the state’s monuments.

The Art Connector is inspired by the very substance which connects these divergent realms. Drawing from the constituent matter of the ground beneath our feet, the Art Connector is a public connector which speaks about the complex construction of Singapore’s ground—connecting millenarian natural geological formations to more recent manmade interventions borne from reclamation and building works. More importantly, it engages the natural instinct of the citizenry whose stake in the formation of this city-state is reciprocated with a visual understanding of how these different networks, processes, and agents come together to create the unseen layers on which we all stand today.On one hand, the underpinnings of this idea relate to evidence on site.

The two monuments—the old Supreme Court and the former City Hall— though adjacent and visually of similar Neo-classical architectural style, are in fact vastly differentiated in their construction processes precisely because of the variations of ground on which each monument is standing. On the other hand, in land-scarce Singapore, ground is commodified, valorized and fragile, and so, justifies some kind of poetic recognition. The Art Connector is complex. It is physical geography, natural geology and economic asset. It is also where we start families, grow neighbourhoods, cultivate communities, build a city, found a nation. It is the stuff we are made of.

In the Art Connector, the floor is made of these two components—the objective physical manifestations of ground, and the faces and voices of its people.
Bands of different colours made of materials collected from the built and natural environments—concrete, earth clay, iron oxides, granite, quartzite, marble, limestone, sand, brick, and washed copper slag, steel slag —create a new topography. These bands weave the natural and the man-made together. In so doing, this imaginative topography reflects the various materials’ actual proximities and complexities in the built environment. Like an intricate network of rivulets inscribed into bands of metal, the public will chance upon thousands of self-portraits.

People are the final layer that makes up Singapore’s ground. Drawing from the affirmative message of the National pledge, members of the public are invited to reflect upon their identities as Singaporeans by drawing expressive self-portraits, which will be then rendered as an accumulative pattern in the bands of the structure. This act of drawing and leaving a mark on the ground is instinctual, natural and is emblematic of a formalisation of ideas, thoughts and beliefs.

The Art Connector creates a new topography that reconciles a physical landscape with the emotive maps of individual identity and memories.

As a counterpoint to the floor, the underside of the roof is made of stainless steel rendered a rippled mirror finish. It quietly reflects the movements and connections made on the ground as well as between the art connector and its surrounding. The roof relates to the environment through its reflective surfaces and cloud-like canopy. This canopy echoes the shadows cast by trees in the adjacent Saint Andrew’s Cathedral. The organically placed columns further enhance this nature-inspired design. The overall imagery is resonant with that of a geological formation—crystallizing, layering, banding, folding, encrusting, binding.