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Archifest announces ‘Building Agency’ as 2017 theme

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Singapore – Archifest, the annual architecture festival organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), has announced ‘Building Agency’ as its 2017 theme; to be held from 4 to 15 October 2017. In its 11th edition, Archifest takes on a new festival format this year, featuring a line-up of more than 50 events taking place at various locations island-wide over two weeks.

Archifest 2017’s theme - ‘Building Agency’ - emphasises the facilitating and building up of agency and citizen participation through architecture. It foregrounds the agency of buildings as important materials and spaces of urban life and is about an empowerment of the people as active agents in the making of our built environment. The festival will be a platform to create a network of multiple stakeholders of the built environment – from government institutions to academies to architects and their clients and patrons to NGOs, think tanks to individuals and user groups – to engage in meaningful conversations and creative co-production.

“Every architectural festival has a capacity to exhibit, pollinate, educate and empower the professionals, students, stakeholders and end users of the built environment. In fact, it has to disseminate knowledge and build awareness of how the built environment is produced and consumed,” said H. Koon Wee, co-festival director of Archifest 2017 and founder of SKEW Collaborative. “But above all, this process ought to be done in a fun and celebratory fashion, away from the strict and professional environments of an office or a government agency. With Archifest 2017, we hope to invite everyone to the party,” added Koon Wee.

Of this year’s theme ‘Building Agency’, Eunice Seng, co-festival director of Archifest 2017 and founding principal of SKEW Collaborative, said, “There is a fundamental shift we wish to bring about in Archifest, to guide the general public to realise that they have a role and a capacity to think about, and hence participate in the making and altering of the built environment.”

“We arrive at the notion that there is a question of agency in architecture and not everyone is aware of this agency in them. This can be a frightening thought because the average person doesn’t feel particularly empowered in an environment like Singapore, but we think we can gradually improve on this,” continued Eunice Seng.

Archifest 2017 is built upon the five pillars of the festival: Archi-Interfaces, Archicraft, Architours, Conversations and Conference. Through a greater collaboration with various institutions and communities, Archifest will host an inclusive and diverse programme that is accessible to all.

Festival highlights include exhibitions Architecture & Photography of the Pioneer Generation to showcase images of the built environment captured by seniors above 55 years old, and Architecture in Print which presents a diverse collection of print media of Singapore architects on their projects and design processes at the National Library; specially curated Architours to explore Singapore's hidden architectural gems; an Archi-Feast featuring edible installations; An Eye for Details architecture photography workshop by Darren Soh; ArKID Build! workshop for children to play architects and build their imaginative buildings; The Great Architectural Bake-Off challenges design firms to create the best interpretation of a building or landmark entirely out of cake; as well as a series of Conversations discussing topics such as ‘The Future is Now’, ‘Why Architect?’ and ‘Women In Architecture’.