D-CritJustin Zhuang, "Proposal to Publication: The Making of Everyday Modernism"

Tue, May 9, 11:00 am

Justin Zhuang is an observer of the designed world and its impact on everyday life. Together with his partner Sheere Ng, Zhuang runs In Plain Words, a Singapore-based writing studio and publishing imprint.

Vera Sacchetti is a Basel-based design critic and curator. She specializes in contemporary design and architecture and serves in a variety of curatorial, research and editorial roles. She is currently program coordinator of the multidisciplinary research initiative Driving the Human: Seven Prototypes for Eco-social Renewal (2020-2023), and co-initiator of the Design and Democracy platform (2020–). Sacchetti teaches at HEAD Geneva, and in 2020 joined the Federal Design Commission of Switzerland.

Everyday Modernism: Architecture & Society in Singapore is the first comprehensive documentation of Singapore’s modern built environment. Through a lens of social and architectural histories, the book uncovers the many untold stories of the Southeast Asian city-state’s modernization, from the rise of heroic skyscrapers, such as the Pearl Bank Apartments, to the spread of utilitarian typologies like the multi-storey car park. It investigates how modernism, through both form and function, radically transformed Singapore and made its inhabitants into modern citizens.

The book’s 33 essays are richly illustrated with some 200 archival images and drawings as well as more than 90 contemporary photos by architectural photographer Darren Soh. It covers the beginnings of Singapore's modern landscape, but the book is also interested in endings; investigating how modern buildings have changed over time, and been adapted for new uses or even threatened with redevelopment today. By examining the evolution of the once exceptional into the typical and by learning how abstract spaces become lived places, the book traces how modernism has become part of everyday life in Singapore.