Rethinking the Singapore Hawker Centre

20 Nov 2019 - 28 Feb 2020 5.00 PM - 8.00 PM (Symposium & Vernissage on 20 Nov) National Design Centre, Singapore


Hawker culture in Singapore is an integral part of the way of life for Singaporeans and has evolved into a microcosm of Singapore’s multicultural society. “Hawker Centre are ‘community dining rooms’ that have shaped Singaporean identity in many ways” as the PM Lee Hsien Loong has formulated it.

In recent years, however, Hawker culture has come under increasing pressure: Food courts as part of the omnipresent shopping malls provide attractive alternatives with competitive prices. And the economic success of Singapore offers many lucrative jobs to the young generation that makes stall ownership at a Hawker Centre a less attractive career choice.

Within this framework of contemporary challenges the question is how Hawker Centres can adapt in order to function as identify-giving community space in the future? And how can architectural design support this function? How can the idea of community and identity be translated into architectural scale? This was the starting point of a design research collaboration between Singapore University of Technology and Design and Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland.

Within this collaboration, the city is not viewed anymore as collection of independent objects that have to attract but rather as a network of relationships with the Hawker Center as a civic space that acts into its surrounding as mediator. The design of a Hawker Centre, therefore, is not limited to a city block but needs to engage with the surrounding urban and green systems and transform into an articulated landscape as new urban typology grounded in social and environmental sustainability.


Date: 20 November 2019, Wednesday
Time: 5.00 PM to 8.00 PM
Venue: National Design Centre, Auditorium (Level 2) (Directions)

The symposium will discuss the position of Singapore as an urban lab at the forefront of sustainability. Participating in the discussion are Leonard Ng (Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl), Pearl Chee (WOHA Architects), Aurel von Richthofen (Future Cities Laboratory, ETH Zürich), Thomas Schröpfer (SUTD). Moderation: Carlos Banon (SUTD), Pia Fricker (Aalto University), Toni Kotnik (Aalto University).


The exhibition presents a selection of student works from a collaborative design studio between SUTD and Aalto University that speculates about future of Singapore Hawker Centres as a new urban typology and driver of the social and environmental sustainability.

Dates: 20 November 2019 to 28 February 2020
Venue: National Design Centre, Singapore