SPARK Architects give Hawker centers new life as solar-powered units
Anyone who has been to Singapore will hopefully have experienced a Hawker Center, a place where you can get food from all over the world in one place. Now, SPARK Architects wants to make street food available on the waterfront with mobile, reconfigurable, and sustainable floating “Orchid Pods.” The proposal is seen by architects as a way to mend the distant relationship between Singapore and its waterscapes, and celebrate the ever popular street food movement in Asia.
As described on SPARK Architects’ website:
Singapore was built on an intimate relationship with the water, which has historically been an artery of culture, commerce and recreation. However, the recent decades of urban development, industrialisation and land reclamation have largely severed this relationship, deleting most of the traditional kampungsand kelongs from the coast, inland water bodies, and sea.
The most basic function of the pod would be to accommodate cooking stalls, which includes built-in exhaust, water, gas, electrical, waste collection and water recycling services – not to mention table settings. On top of that, the floating hawker centers would feature a protective canopy, which is actually an energy-generating inflated ETFE pillow fitted with thin-film photovoltaic cells. SPARK says the idea would complement the $11 million Singaporean government initiative to develop floating solar islands in country’s reservoirs.
While the idea is only a concept, and it’s easy to be optimistic, the architects envision a self-contained hawker center that would leave no trace of itself when moving from one location to another. Not only are Orchid Pods a way to update an age-old tradition, they could also be a way to prevent it from fading away. Stephen Pimbley, one of the founding directors at SPARK, explains:
“The idea of reinventing the hawker centre grew from the widely documented observation that the popularity of the traditional hawker lifestyle has begun to wane. We seek to re-energise the hawker centre typology while retaining the soul of a very Singaporean dining experience”
You can see some more renderings of the proposal below.
Images by SPARK Architects