Singapore Biennale ~ Ai Loon’s pick for the week ~ 26 December

251213_2Has any architectural structure such as a building, a bridge or a tower left you with a deeply-etched impression even after ages? Is there one that has become or was once a part of your life? So much so that you have fond memories of it or you have taken it for granted?

In land-scarce Singapore where land development and re-development are always on the plate, both public and private buildings come and go in short spans of time with the exception of just a handful of buildings mainly comprising of places of worship and pre-war shophouses.

The National Theatre, once a place of cultural exchange and demolished in 1986, has hosted various international performances, charity shows, universities’ convocations and national day rallies. Prominent artistes who have performed here include Poon Sow Keng (潘秀琼), Teresa Teng (邓丽君), Louis Armstrong and The Bee Gees.

Officially opened on 8th August 1963 to commemorate Singapore’s gaining of self-government, the National Theatre was built with a huge cantilevered roof against its facade made up of five diamond-shaped structures, which represented the five stars on the Singapore flag.

I am so glad to see a work dedicated to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Theatre at Singapore Biennale 2013. Architect-artist Lai Chee Kien has created a half-scale replica of the frames of the five diamond-shaped structure, facing the original site of the National Theatre at the foot of Fort Canning Hill.

There will be a poetry-reading at the artwork this Saturday, 28th December 2013, from 3.30pm till 6.30pm. More information here on Memories and Lost Spaces: A site-based reading.

National Theatre@50

by Lai Chee Kien

Tank Road

Site-specific architectural installation with aluminium, timber and concrete

Singapore Biennale 2013 commission

Googling ‘national theatre singapore’ will lead you to many photos of the memorable building. This one of the Biennale structure shared here stands out to me as it has an additional meaning to me. No matter rain or shine, everyone has a place in the heart for a special work of architecture.


More photos can be found here and here.

To pay a visit to the Biennale structure surrounded by plenty of greenery, you may take the Biennale shuttle bus. Or refer to this map and the how-to-get-there information.

To complete the work, start digging through your biscuit tins at home for photos (or digital images) of the National Theatre or take photos of the Biennale structure and share them with the artist by emailing to him at or posting them on the event page. Scroll down the thread on the event page to see wonderful photos, past and present, including “the star/celebrity series”, “the jump series” and “the memorabilia series” of admission tickets and the like.

To help defray the expenses of creating the work, please write a cheque to: Lai Chee Kien and mail it to him at:

c/o Mr David Chew

Singapore Biennale 2013

Singapore Art Museum

61, Stamford Road

#02-02 Stamfort Court

Singapore 178892


The Straits Times, Tuesday, October 29 2013. Life! section C5


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  1. Pingback: Singapore Biennale ~ closing weekend (1 of 2 parts) | choo ai loon

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