A New World in the Making: Life and Architecture in Tropical Asia
by Tay Kheng Soon
Architect Tay Kheng Soon’s book brings together memoir, a selection of writings on identity, landscape and belonging, and on the architecture and urbanism most appropriate for a tropical city in Asia. Born in British-ruled Singapore, Tay was deeply engaged in the debates about building a new world that attended the end of colonialism. His focus, but far from his only concern, was Singapore's built environment—and its spiritual one—since the early 1960s. Architecture, he says, is politics by other means. As Singapore moved further into what Tay describes as “ruthless pragmatism”, the cost of his critical posture became more clear. After he organised a protest against the Vietnam War in 1972, Tay’s co-founders in the pioneering architectural firm Design Partnership reformed their partnership as DP Architects without him, building a practice that grew into an empire.
Kheng Soon stayed his own course, first working in Malaysia designing low-cost housing, then returning to Singapore and building his own firm. He became sought after around the world for his thoughts on regionalism and tropical architecture. He taught at the NUS School of Architecture, headed the Singapore Institute of Architects, and was Founding Chair of independent arts centre The Substation. Ever ready with the trenchant one-liner, and a willingness to provoke, to challenge orthodoxy, Tay occupies a unique position in Asia’s intellectual and cultural landscape. Things must change, says Tay. Or, maybe, he admits, it's just him. The book is a must-read for Tay's reflections on tropical Asia and its architecture and urbanism as he continues looking ahead to the always urgent task of building a new world.
Tay Kheng Soon is an architect.
Publication Year: 2023
300pp || 229 x 152 mm
36 b/w images