Syncretically, Eclectically — ‘Haw Par’ Have We Come?

Historically, recreational spaces in pre-independence Singapore were few and far between. Given this context, Haw Par Villa stands out in the collective memory of Singaporeans who were born between the 1930s and 1980s.

Haw Par Villa was built by Aw Boon Haw, a businessman and philanthropist, in 1937. It housed the Aw family mansion, and its gardens were open to the public. Known for its fantastical depictions of Chinese mythologies and philosophical stories, it became an important site for public education, leisure and cultural history.

Built in collaboration with artists Eugene Tan and Jerome Ng, this installation draws on the visual language and narratives of dioramas, which have become synonymous with Haw Par Villa. It delineates the layers that comprise the compound’s rich architectural history, and is conceptualised as three main portions. The components correspond to key landmarks in the park: the mermaid pool, the changing room and the Haw Par Mansion. These efforts bring historical fragments together, as artefacts and settings that have been lost over time are reinterpreted.

This project is inspired by an earlier research study on Haw Par Villa conducted by Studio Lapis and MAEK Consulting, and supported by the National Heritage Board and Singapore Tourism Board.

Studio Lapis, an award-winning Singapore-based architectural conservation specialist consultancy, possesses a solid track record in heritage research, field surveys, conservation design and preparation of Conservation Management Plans for both local and overseas projects. Its expertise on the constructional, historical, artistic, cultural, technological and material aspects of built heritage inform and facilitate decision-making throughout the complex process of conservation and adaptive reuse.

Eugene Tan is a celebrated Lego artist who is trained in architecture. An avid player and prize winner since the age of eight, Eugene’s creations have been exhibited in major exhibitions in Singapore and overseas, such as Gardens by the Bay, the NLB exhibition on National Monuments commissioned by NHB, and Singapore Day in London.

Jerome Ng Xinhao graduated from UCL Bartlett with a Master in Architecture. He obtained his first degree in Visual Communications in NTU. His work has won numerous international awards including the 2017 Architizer A+ Awards (Jury Prize) , and the overall winner in the 2019 World Architecture Festival Drawing Prize. Jerome’s work has been featured in exhibitions in Singapore, Seoul and London.

The Gallery

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