In 2013, I was fortunate to have been part of an architecture studio at NUS which was focused on defining, documenting and re-interpreting "Singapore Tropicana". We spent 13 weeks rigorously mining literature, images and precedent artefacts built during that era, and then formulating our own theses based on an artefact we had chosen. It was inspiring to uncover the fiery zeal and organic exuberance that once existed, yet depressing to be told that over the years we had been controlled and disciplined to become bonsai.
It was only appropriate and almost poetic that we had our final review at the People's Park Complex, a highly-venerated survivor of "Singapore Tropicana", in a room that sat between the podium and the tower. Adjunct Prof Tay Kheng Soon, a key member of the "Singapore Tropicana" era, and architect of the People's Park Complex was present. It was no mean feat transporting all our models from school; it took a total of one rented van and two cars to get everything over.
In those weeks, I discovered Singapore, I discovered architecture, but most importantly I discovered the need for ambition. It is a studio and review that I will never forget.