Spark discusses ‘concrete gems’ on Channel News Asia

Viewers of Singaporean breakfast news television received a rare serving of concrete beauty with their morning coffee on 26 June 2014. SPARK Director Stephen Pimbley appeared on the Channel News Asia programme ‘First Look Asia’, sharing insights into the qualities and potentials of ‘concrete gems’ in Asia.

The discussion focused on aged concrete buildings in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, how we perceive their beauty and value, and the complex process of successfully transforming them for new uses.

Demonstrating a natural charisma in front of the camera, Pimbley drew attention to the significance of such structures (whose style and materiality often see them under-valued) in the cultural heritage of Asian cities and countries. He raised an important theme that has emerged in the current edition of the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale – the regional characteristics of modern architecture – as a way to highlight the value they can embody.

He also highlighted the importance of socially relevant re-programming for aged buildings during their refurbishment and transformation. “A mistake that a lot of developers and architects have is thinking that the architect designs a building and that’s the end of the story. How it’s programmed – the retail strategy or the mix of use that goes into the building – is as key as the design or refurbishment of the building,” he said.

Finding the appropriate new lease of life is critical, he stated, if such buildings are to be successfully refurbished, carried forward, and given a new cultural significance.