Lynette H. L. Loke
Singapore is a quintessential expression of urbanisation and modernisation. Loss (of any kind, be it social, historical, cultural or even natural) and change, is an inevitable part of that process. Surviving colonial buildings/architecture thus acquire a symbolic meaning with that change which affects how it is perceived, managed and interpreted1. Being one of the most iconic landmark remaining in the civic district, the Raffles hotel not only represents the colonial heritage of Singapore in a post-colonial era, but more importantly, the tensions and struggle to find a balance between conservation/preservation of that heritage and new commercial purposes (e.g. tourism).
The honeycomb pattern is used to symbolise Singapore’s efficiency/mentality (honeycombs being one of the most geometrically efficient structures in nature), while the bees may symbolise servitude. Additionally, the honey comb is as representative as colonial architecture, found in many commonwealth countries. Whether the installation denotes or connotes the wane of colonial sentiments will depend on the perspective of the viewer: are the bees rebuilding their hive, or have they evolved, and are building their new hive?
Concrete—one of the most basic construction material used throughout human history— is chosen because it is able to encapsulate both the process of construction and destruction, reflecting the aforementioned tensions between preservation and loss. So whether it is a process of integration or disintegration depends on the take of the viewer.
Supported by the National Arts Council and Raffles Hotel