Arts Review Singapore Singapore Design Week

Urban Design Festival 2018: Changing the World One Design At A Time


The inaugural Singapore Design Festival concluded this week with a plethora of activities over the five day programme. Ogranised by LOPELAB as part of Singapore Design Week 2018, the festival was dedicated to promoting urban design and the new global movement of placemaking, transforming the Tanjong Pagar district into a hub for urban design thinking.


Highlights of the festival included the Urban Design Summit at the Working Capitol, as various industry leaders and academics came to the Working Capitol for two days to deliver lectures and conduct workshops exploring concepts of placemaking and designing for the future of our fast-growing cities.

LOPELAB founder Lorenzo Petrillo

But perhaps the biggest anchor event of the entire festival would be the Urban Design Route. Featuring a total of eight temporary installations set up all across Tanjong Pagar, visitors can take a stroll from Keong Saik Street all the way to Tanjong Pagar MRT to check out these innovative new designs till 15th June. Said LOPELAB founder Lorenzo Petrillo, who led the media on a guided tour: “These installations are all potential, provocative ideas that are aimed to activate the space around them. If they resonate well with the public, we would even consider developing them further.”

NUS and LOPELAB’s ‘The Growroom’

Themed ‘stay and play’, many of the installations encourage members of the public to take a second look at the world around them and engage with the installations at hand. From an installation that makes cushions completely out of plastic bags to plastic stools playfully resembling soap bubbles, Tanjong Pagar could be seen in a whole new light as one engaged with these designs and changed our point of view, showcasing how good design can truly transform and reinvent the space it inhabits.

‘City Bubble’ by Pagaa

In addition, the Urban Design Festival also coincided with the 9th Edition of the Urban Ventures street party, held at Keong Saik Street. Adhering to the festival’s theme of ‘stay and play’, this edition featured everything from an artisan market to pole athletes showing off their skills with a pole, right in front of Foong Kee coffeeshop in the middle of the street.


Food and drink options were in no short supply either, with outlets like The Travelling Cow setting up shop as well as delicious Gosnells mead and Hiver beer available.

Comfort food from The Travelling Cow

Perhaps one of the more interesting booths was a group of graduating SUTD students presenting one of their projects. Named ‘Outpost‘, the group was in the middle of marketing their latest innovation – a form of social gaming that involved being able to design one’s own augmented reality elements via a browser platform. Although still very much a prototype, seeing how apps like Pokemon Go took off when they were first introduced, it’s an idea that has plenty of potential to go far and give users a chance to craft the world around them from the comfort of being behind their own computer screens

Seeing the world through a new lens with Outpost

There’s something incredibly fun about the way LOPELAB has decided to breathe new life into the familiar with their innovative means of placemaking, be it via street parties, installations or simply asking visitors to consider a different point of view in looking at a place’s history and significance. What the Urban Design Festival has proved is that as small as Singapore is, there’s always room for new ways of experiencing our city, if you just know how to look and play with the space around you.


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