About The Speaker
Ar. Tay Kheng Soon
Tay Kheng Soon graduated in architecture at a time when the socio-political conditions of the early 60’s in Singapore shaped the generation of architects and their work - but particularly in Kheng Soon’s case in many significant ways. The emergence of locally trained professional architects in Singapore coincided with decolonization and a rising consciousness of their role in the building of a post-colonial nation. In 1968 Lee Kuan Yew invited him to join the PAP but Tay refused. Tay Kheng Soon has been a practicing architect since he started Design Partnership in 1967, a design consultancy which among its landmark designs were the People’s Park Complex; The Golden Mile Complex. The firm was discontinued under government pressure in 1974 after Tay helped organise the demonstration against the USA bombing of Vietnam. For that he exiled himself to practice in KL. Much later he returned to practice in Singapore under his new firm Akitek Tenggara when he designed the KK Woman’s & Children’s Hospital. Tay Kheng Soon was also involved even as a young architect in generating many planning ideas. He was Chairman of the Singapore Planning and Urban Research Group or SPUR from 1967 to 1976.His design research extends beyond architectural scale to urban planning and finally to the regional scale. From the 2000’s Kheng Soon was invited by several Asean countries to speak on his concept of “Rubanisation”. Subsequently he was invited to be a Member of the Asian Dialogue Society of Asian Intellectuals for his ideas on rural urbanisation, “Rubanisation”. Kheng Soon has moderated in discussions dealing on the issue of spatial planning of Singapore. He pioneered the “Tropical City Concept” at Kampong Bugis. One significant talk he delivered was entitled: “The Maximally Deployable Modular City of the 21st century”. When some of Kheng Soon’s ideas are seen as radical, he gets shot down but that does not bother him. He would retort back saying: …. “its fun and it keeps me going. The act of formulating ideas is fantastic. I don’t really care what happens”. And he went on to say: … “I do things because I like to do them. I’m not concerned about the rewards or condemnation that may come with it - the fire is still in my belly – I don’t expect anything so the energy to think the unthinkable, to push the boundaries of knowledge and concept is still there”. In 2010 he was awarded the Singapore Institute of Architects Gold Medal for his significant contributions to architecture during his lifetime. Kheng Soon was the founding chairman of Substation with Kuo Pao Kun which is an experimental centre of the Arts Community. He is a Fellow of the World Academy of Art & Science (which was established by Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell); He is also a Member of the World Ekistics Society; was a Member of Advisory Panel of Institute of Policy Studies; formally a Member of Inter-Ministerial Committee on Housing & Land Use Policies under chairman feedback unit, Mr. Tan Cheng Bock. He was Adjunct Professor of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and also the External Examiner at University Teknologi Malaysia. Today Kheng Soon is Adjunct Professor at the School of Architecture, NUS. Finally Tay Kheng Soon can be described as an academic who is acutely concerned that architecture and living environment must be rooted in climate and culture while also at the same time modernizing and humanizing people and place.