Design of the Year award for Genexis Theatre

19 November 2009

Arup, world leaders in design, engineering and business consultancy and WOHA, leading architects and interior designers have been honoured with the prestigious and highly acclaimed “Design of the Year” award for their work on the Genexis Theatre at Fusionopolis, Singapore.

The award will be presented by Singapore’s President, His Excellency, S.R. Nathan at the Istana, Singapore’s Presidential Grounds today to acknowledge the talent behind the projects that exemplify outstanding design bearing testament to Singapore’s unique creativity and innovation.

Established in 2006, the award recognises excellence across all design disciplines. Currently in its fourth year, the President’s Design Award represents the pinnacle of design recognition in Singapore’s design industry. It continues to honour Singapore designers and exceptional designs that are truly innovative while improving the lives of Singaporeans and global communities.

Arup was selected from an international tender and WOHA subsequently joined the Arup team as the interior design architect. Both firms were awarded based on its creativity, originality of design, design strategy, true functionality, aesthetic sensibility, emotional appeal, benefit to humanity, sustainability, national significance and iconic value to Singapore.

The jury citation states, “The design of the Genexis Theatre rises to the challenge of an extremely difficult site, and succeeds through a wonderfully cohesive amalgamation of highly technical solutions and innovative design. The result is a composite work of art and technology that transcends the site. This project raises the bar for architectural and audio-visual system design for a performing arts venue.”

The theatre’s unique features include 560 adjustable seats that are retractable to create a thrust stage, and yet moveable multi-directionally. The use of 400,000 timber beads lining the internally curved walls of an ovoid space is an ingenious acoustic solution that simultaneously provides a richly textural curtain that works particularly well with the spherical space. The voluptuous curves that festoon the façade of the theatre is only minimally muted by the timber material deployed, presenting a marvelously theatrical treatment quite at odds with the rest of Fusionopolis, yet strangely suitable for the occasion.

The jury particularly commended the strong integration of technical and sensory design delivered with panache in an extremely challenging space, thereby giving meaning to ‘fusion’ in Fusionopolis.

Andrew Nicol, Principal, Arup says, “We are proud to be part of this prestigious project. Genexis is a funky, transformable, technically sophisticated, intimate, raw yet elegantly crafted and designed theatre. Its state-of-the art theatre breaks the traditional rules of theatre design but in a way that does not compromise theatrical product.”

“What is particularly pleasing is that that our design team and the client worked in close partnership to overcome such hurdles with practical design solutions to accommodate unusual space structure,” adds Nicol.

Since 1946, Arup has been recognised for its outstanding work on some of the world’s most iconic projects such as the Sydney Opera House in Australia, Centre Pompidou in Paris, The National Aquatics Center (Water Cube) and the Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest), both in China.

With more than 40 years in Singapore, the company has been instrumental in shaping Singapore’s skyline with projects such as ION Orchard, Fusionopolis, Singapore Flyer and Singapore National Library.

Some of Arup’s on-going projects in Singapore also include the Marina Bay Sands® integrated resort, Marina Bay Bridge, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Sports Hub and the renovation of Victoria Halls.

Arup and WOHA are currently working together on the School of the Arts Singapore, Singapore's first independent pre-tertiary arts school to nurture youths talented in the arts, with the vision to groom the country’s next generation of artists, creative professionals and individuals who are passionate for, and committed to the arts in a multi-cultural society.