The Founders’ Memorial Architectural Design Competition. The Founders’ Memorial aims to create a world-renowned public building that embodies the democratic principles that Singapore has been built upon. It will do this by being a place for the Singaporean people and visitors to gather and celebrate the achievements of past, present and future Singaporeans.
Project Name: COX and Architects 61 Design for Founders Memorial
Studio Name: Cox Architecture
Photography: Sarah Watanabe
The flag of Singapore is the inspiration for the site marked by five pathways – representing the five stars and the abstracted crescent moon – the Memorial. Each pathway is the physical celebration of one of the ideals that each star of the Singaporean flag represents – democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
The social history, trials, tribulations and victories of the Singaporean people act as the inspiration for the internal makeup of the Memorial. It is a place of internal and collective reflection whereby the act of procession through the building is a journey to understanding the rich and complex history of the nation.
COX Founder and Project Design Lead Philip Cox said ‘the Founders Museum is an abstraction symbolising Singapore bridging the past and the future over water and land within a park environment. It incorporates Singapore’s history of development through a series of spaces climaxing with stunning views of Singapore today.’
‘The building is timeless in its expression, a shape that is elegant and enticing and evocative of its content.’
Project Design Director Ronan Moss said ‘the memorial is a sculptural representation of the founding father’s role in creating a unified Singapore. Conceived as an abstracted crescent moon, the memorial bridges over a reflective pool, symbolising the journey and ascendency of Singapore as a great nation.’
‘As a work of sculpture, the memorial sits harmoniously within its landscape setting, creating an evocative symbol which will tell the story of Singapore for generations to come.’
Building form as sculpture
The Building is made of three key parts:
Rising above the landscape, acting as a beacon, the tower marks the entry to the building. Inside, it accommodates a viewing gallery, restaurant, education spaces and galleries. The variety of programs that can be enjoyed individually or collectively are placed together to celebrate the importance of pluralism in democratic design. This is further reinforced by each space having views over the curated landscape, where each pathway to the museum is now visible, and the ideals which these pathways represent are seen in their poetic totality.
The Bridge, which contains the interpretive gallery spaces, represents the literal interpretation of a procession through history. Its purpose is to be a place where families, school children and visitors learn the complex and rich history of Singapore. Underneath the Bridge is the Reflection Pool, a place where the individual is celebrated by seeing themselves reflected amongst the history of Singapore. It serves as a reminder of the importance of every Singaporean being responsible for its past present and future.
Acting as the symbolic reveal of the Interpretive Gallery, the Theatre is a space for people to gather and see the literal culmination of the story of Singapore, whilst encountering sweeping views over the entire site and the Marina Barrage.
The narrative of Singapore’s Founders’ Memorial is a story of celebration, captured through a sequence of non-didactic immersive experiences. Working in unison with the architectural expression of the building, we will develop a journey of six ‘atmospheres’ each captured in sacred spaces throughout the visitor’s journey. Each atmosphere captures the mood of a significant period in Singapore’s history, providing a theatrical backdrop where global and local events are expressed. Physically, the atmospheres appear as large-scale immersive environments, which are the canvas upon which we capture the essence of Singapore’s stories. The ultimate outcome of each experience is to profile the strengths of Singapore’s leadership in situations of extreme adversity, political and social unrest, and global shifts. The success of current day Singapore is a tribute to the Founding Fathers’ strong leadership and clear vision for the future.
In creating immersive environments, we rely on the theatrical applications of architecture, light, projection, expressive materials, or combinations of materials, to create large-scale atmospheric installations that express the tone of their character. We aim to touch the senses of our visitor and evoke an emotional response that resonates with the story. Responding to the demands of a changing contemporary audience, the exhibition will avoid the traditional exhibition approach that steps through a predictable cause and effect historic narrative.
Objects will be displayed through suspended glass walls that retain a sense of openness and transparency in the space. This design responds to the expressiveness of the architectural spaces, where the story of Singapore will be told in unison with the architectural intent. We see this as an opportunity to create a unique visitor experience that is strong and unique in its approach, which compliments the story and expression of the architecture.