The Singapore Institute of Architects has launched an international contest for a landmark new memorial to the country’s founders
Open to architects worldwide, the competition seeks concepts for a 13,700m² landscaped memorial and museum celebrating Singapore’s early leaders and the island country’s founding ideals and values.
The project, planned to complete in 2027, will occupy a prominent 5ha site within the Bay East Garden section of gardens by the bay immediately opposite WilkinsonEyre’s iconic Cooled Conservatories Complex.
Lee Tzu Yang, chair of the Founders’ Memorial Committee, said: ‘Through the competition, we hope to seek out the best design – one that would honour the founding values of this country and make excellent use of the site.
‘We envision that it will be a space which everyone of all ages can enjoy and relate to, and an icon that Singaporeans can be proud of and share with our future generations. We look forward to seeing how Singaporeans’ hopes and wishes for the Founders’ Memorial could come to life.’
Singapore, on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, was founded as a trading post of the British East India Company in 1819 and became an independent sovereign nation in 1965.
The project aims to deliver an ‘educational, reflective and inspiring’ facility focussing on ‘national, community and personal milestones’ within Singapore’s development. Installations will focus on the city-state’s post-war history and early decades of independence.
The 13,700m² complex will feature temporary and permanent galleries, a visitor centre, multi-purpose rooms, a volunteer suite, family spaces, and a viewing gallery overlooking the bay. A landscaped external memorial will also be included.
Proposals must address connectivity and access to the waterfront site which is due to receive a new pedestrian bridge, water taxi rank, and metro station. The competition is organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects on behalf of the Founders’ Memorial Committee and Singapore’s National Heritage Board.
Judges include Studio Libeskind founder Daniel Libeskind, Jun-ichi Inada of WIN Landscape Planning & Design International, Kiat W Tan from Gardens by the Bay, and Fun Siew Leng, chief urban designer at Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Up to six shortlisted teams will each receive SGD$60,000 (£35,000) to participate in the design phase of the competition. The overall winner, to be announced early next year, will receive a SGD$150,000 (£86,000) prize.
The deadline for applications is midday local time (GMT +8), 5 April.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information
Ar Tai Lee Siang, juror and executive director of Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority
Ar Tai Lee Siang
Why are you holding an international contest for a new Founders’ Memorial in Singapore?
The idea for an international contest for a national level building of significance is not new. For example, as early as 1956, Sydney held a design competition for their opera house. In Singapore, The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay was the result of an international design competition in 1990s. Design contests allow participation by designers of diverse talents and backgrounds. We are anticipating strong interest from overseas and Singapore. With a larger number of entries, jury would be able to identify a few different approaches in Stage One before deciding on the final winner in Stage Two. It is important for local and international collaboration because Founders’ Memorial is a building that requires good understanding of Singapore’s context and history. Through collaboration, we hope the design team can better express the aspirations for this building.
What is your vision for the new memorial?
Our collective vision is that the Founders’ Memorial should be inspiring, accessible and aesthetically pleasing. The architecture shall provide spaces that allow visitors to contemplate the values and ideals that were exemplified by Singapore’s founding generation of leaders. These then serve as inspiration for Singapore’s future. We do not dictate the aesthetics but design should certainly take into consideration the garden setting of the site as well as Singapore’s well known approach as a city in a garden. The site area is 5 ha and is located within the overall site context of Bay East Garden. There are no significant constraints except that the design shall allow the movement of people across the garden. Excellent design and innovations are expected to deliver exceptional visitor experience. The Founders’ Memorial is also expected to meet high sustainability benchmarks in Singapore.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
We do not prescribe the kind of architects or designers who can submit for the design competition. Therefore, we welcome various design practices of all backgrounds to submit. International firms do not need to collaborate with Singapore firms for Stage 1 but collaboration is compulsory for Stage 2. To achieve maximum understanding of Singapore’s background and aspirations, we strongly encourage international firms to collaborate with Singapore firms even in Stage 1.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The Founders’ Memorial design competition focuses only on the 5 ha site boundary. There are no other associated design competitions related to Founders’ Memorial. We do not have information about other design opportunities.
Are there any other recent national memorial projects you have been impressed by?
I am not aware of any other recent national memorial projects. The Founders’ Memorial is the first of its kind in Singapore and hence a unique project.