Overcoming built environment challenges holistically: Architecture & Building Services 2023
WEDNESDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 2023 – Eleven conferences and six exhibitions spanning various aspects of the built environment industry comprised last week’s Architecture & Building Services (ABS) 2023, held from 15–17 November at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre. With the theme of Designing a Safe and Resilient Built Environment, the mega-expo addressed various pressing issues in the sector, from obstacles and resolutions to emerging trends and innovations. ABS 2023 was also co-located with the inaugural Circular Cities Summit 1.0 to work towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 11 on making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
The opening on Wednesday, 15 November was officiated by Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State, Singapore’s Ministry of National Development. Tan highlighted the significant demand for infrastructure in Southeast Asia, which comes with the need for finance, skilled manpower, and adoption of advances in technology. He also touched upon challenges faced by Singapore, including an aging population, technology disruption and climate change. To overcome these challenges, mutual learning and collaboration are needed to upskill the workforce and make use of technology to build more efficiently and sustainably.
On the second day, the International Facility & Strata Management Conference (IFSMC) 2023 was held with the theme of Sustaining Facility Management for a Resilient Built Environment. The conference was opened by Cheryl Chan, Member of Parliament, East Coast GRC, and Chairperson, GPC for National Development. Chan noted the increasing challenges of urbanisation in already dense cities like Singapore, with increased waste and carbon emissions, climate change, and changing demographics. She encouraged industry players to approach solutions by focusing on the experience of building users and occupants, considering changes in work patterns post-pandemic; customise facilities to attract and retain users; and to take advantage of the wealth of data to improve services and reduce inefficiencies.
The 3rd ASEAN Young Architects & Designers Forum was also held on 16 November with the theme of Innovation and Connectivity: Designing for the Digital Age. The digital built environment encompasses not only physical structures but also the intricate network of sensors, devices, and data. Hence, the digital landscape is a frontier for architects and designers to augment people’s quality of life. The forum was officiated by Melvin Tan, President, Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA); Chee Su Eing, President, Design Business Chamber Singapore (DBCS); and Tung Ching Yew, President, Society of Interior Designers Singapore (SIDS), with panellists of professionals from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
The final day of ABS 2023 began with the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Forum for the Waste Management industry. Guest-of-Honour Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, and Ministry of Transport, called on industry players to support the nation’s Zero Waste Master Plan. With a continuously changing waste landscape, she noted risks facing workers in the built environment sector, both visible and invisible. She proposed an iterative approach to improving safety standards with continuous risk assessment on-the-ground by workers themselves.
Following the construction stage, the operations of buildings account for 30 per cent of global final energy consumption. A half-day conference held jointly by ASHRAE Singapore Chapter (ASC) and the International Building Performance Simulation Association (IBPSA Singapore) discussed the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, including mixed modes of ventilation, that significantly lower carbon emissions. It featured the speakers Dr Adrian Chong, Assistant Professor, Department of the Built Environment, National University of Singapore; Chen Wenjie, Associate Director, Climate Asia; and Bill Lee, Founder, Azendian Solutions.
The Singapore Chapter of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) also held the ArchXpo Conference 2023 with the theme of Constructing a Compassionate Tomorrow: Human-Focused Strategies in the Built Environment. The speakers’ topics include Life-Centric Architecture: Reset Rethink Architecture by Richard Garcia, Lightweight Green Aggregate for Sustainability in the Construction Industry by Dr Joe Selvan and Integrating Safety and Resilience in Modern Architecture by Ian Fulgar. Across two sessions, the seminar explored diverse facets within the architecture and construction realm, offering a holistic view of safety measures and resilience in contemporary architectural practices.