News 96, Musuems and Wartimes, Two Southeast Asian Case Studies


News 96
Two Southeast Asian Case Studies

It’s an honour for Jean Francois Milou to be invited as a keynote speaker for ICOM’s upcoming International Committee for Architecture and Museum Techniques (ICAMT) Conference, in Porto, 25-27 October.

Exploring the theme of ‘Undoing Conflict in Museums’ we’ll share two examples of our recent museum projects in Southeast Asia; the National Gallery Singapore, and the Danang City Museum, Vietnam.

Both sites occupy places once colonized, and both are witnesses to war. The National Gallery Singapore transforms two hefty colonial buildings, the City State’s former City Hall and Supreme Court, built before a sports field,‘the Padang,’ where the Japanese surrendered in 1945 and Lee Kuan Yew declared the independence from Malaysia, in 1965. The Da Nang Museum occupies land that was an American airbase during ‘the American War’. While not a site of battle, the location served the war in a country where no place was spared the impacts of conflict. The visions of both new institutions recognize past conflicts, while giving greater weight to exploring wide-ranging contemporary themes that speak of national and regional identity and aspirations, of diversity, inclusion and innovation.

How then do architects and designers respond in ways that respect the innate character and complex contexts of existing structures, and the ‘experiences of conflict,’ while creating the silence of architectural spaces conducive to reflection, designs that allow visitors themselves to ‘make sense’ of the stories and nature of the buildings, intuitively. studioMilou’s principal directors, founder and lead designer, Jean Francois Milou, and Director of studioMilou Vietnam, Trung Nguyen, share something of the conceptual starting points for each project and its development in the completed buildings.