March 31, 2008

inSingapore: The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , , , , at 8:23 am by myrlinn

After all these years in Singapore, yesterday was the first time I stepped into The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the oldest Roman Catholic church here.

You don’t get the impression of great age that you feel the moment you step into Europe’s famous cathedrals, but the atmosphere once the service starts certainly makes up for that.

The choir adds much to the service. The resonant voices evoke the majesty of God, and the solemnity of worship.

I’m not sure that I’ll ever feel really comfortable in a  Roman Catholic church, Methodist school girl that I am, but the trappings — the incense, the traditional choir, the formality of the service — struck a chord with me.

So if you’re visiting this church, try to go for its main Sunday service at 10 am. After all, a church is more than its architecture or the statues lovingly placed in and around it. It’s the communion of people coming together in worship, and only by attending a service will you ‘feel’ that.

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March 20, 2008

Changi Terminal 3 — Architectural Cliche

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , , , at 9:17 am by myrlinn

I sent my mum off at Changi Airport yesterday, and took the opportunity to go explore the public areas of the various terminals, especially Terminal 3 which just opened in January this year.

TERMINAL 3

My first reaction? Disappointing — yet another architectural cliche! Yet another building created along the lines of how can we design a building with glass, glass and even more glass. I found myself wondering what people will think about the architecture of the late 1990s / early 2000s in  twenty or thirty years’ time. Will they, like me, think that trendroidism overrode imagination in much of the architecture of this period?

The overall feel of Terminal 3 is rather generic, featureless. Singapore is a city that has a developing contemporary culture in terms of art, design, club culture, etc., yet we don’t get the feel of that when we go to Terminal 3.

They could have done with more vibrant, creative landscaping instead of the palm trees in rows that has become so commonplace. I would have liked to see a more natural look to complement the stark architecture, and also features like aviaries and aquariums which could add life to the space.

And with Singapore being a country advanced in technology, I would also have enjoyed some technology-related ’embellishments’ like plasma screens with a revolving display of digital art by Singaporean artists, for example.

From a functional point of view, though, I give a thumbs-up to the new Terminal. I loved  the skylights with panels which reflects in natural light. Great job there – let’s in the light but not the heat. I’d like to see more buildings with features like this. And the flow, the placement of shops, restaurants, and amenities were also very good (well, at least in the public areas which I got to see). What’s also very good is that they have a food court there. It’s about time that airports offer food at reasonable prices!

BUDGET TERMINAL

This  opened in 2006, and interestingly enough, is another cliche, but in the opposite direction. It reminds me so much of airports in my childhood, airports built perhaps 30 or 40 years ago —  single-storey concrete structures with very simple layout, and very basic counter and seat areas.

I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it invokes a feeling of nostalgia.

On the other hand, I can’t help but ask: I know it’s a “budget” terminal but no-frills surely doesn’t have to mean recycling the most most basic designs common thirty years ago?