Hearing that she had won an international award was just what Pamela Tan Poh Sin needed during these pandemic times.
“I was so happy that it temporarily stopped my pandemic anxiety for a day or two!” admitted the 30-year-old architectural designer from Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tan, founder of Poh Sin Studio, recently earned the Best of the Best award (Installation category) at the German Design Council’s 2021 Iconic Awards: Innovative Architecture for her inspiring project named Eden.
“It’s truly an honourable award. I’m grateful to be recognised by an organisation that encourages design accessibility to diverse audiences,” said Tan, who plans to attend the award ceremony which will be held on Oct 11 in Munich, Germany.
Eden was a temporary public art installation that spanned 156sq m displayed at the 163 Retail Park Gallery in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur from Nov 2018 to May 2019.
The project caught the jury’s attention for its surreal atmosphere and intricate details.
“In view of the boom in online trade, special attractions are required to prompt people to visit shopping centres. One such attraction was created through the Eden project, which promised an extraordinary experience.
“The design, consisting of filigree structures, gives rise to a space that, with its cathedral-like appearance, is reminiscent of a giant dripstone cave, whose fantastically beautiful atmosphere is further strengthened by the monochrome colouring,” said the jury panel in a statement.
“A wonderful installation that seems out of this world and offers visitors a place to escape the hectic nature of everyday life and find a chance for peace and internal reflection,” it added.
In Eden’s all-white setting, a pathway covered with crystal-white pebbles leads one through an arched passageway inspired by Victorian-era steel conservatory structures.
Glass spheres are delicately perched on the cusp of the hanging vines, “echoing water droplets balancing on the edge of leaves after rain has subsided”.
The cathedral atmosphere was created with varying vine heights which cast an intricate play of shadows on the surroundings.
Tan, who took about three months to design Eden, said Jules Verne’s drawings in the Journey To The Centre Of The Earth book provided the inspiration for the installation’s cavernous feel.
She added that Eden’s skeletal structure was also a nod to the architectural and engineering marvel of the Crystal Palace, a massive cast-iron structure built to house the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London.
“The idea was to create a strange white landscape of wonder and delight. Some of my key references were Art Forms In Nature by Ernst Haeckel (a German zoologist, philosopher, artist and author).
“His work is known for illustrating scientific drawings of mainly plants that demonstrate the geometric patterns in nature.
“I am particularly interested in his diatom illustration series because of its strange and delicate forms,” shared Tan.
“However, these details cannot be seen with the naked eye and can only be viewed under a microscope.
“That led me to the idea of developing my own series of cell-like details in ‘blow-up’ size form where people could view it up-close and spatially immerse in it to experience these wonderful details physically,” explained Tan, who aims to make design accessible to a wider, more diverse audience by working with different fields beyond the built environment industry.
Tan obtained her Masters in Architecture (MArch) RIBA Part 2 from the University of Greenwich in Britain. Her first year MArch studio project, entitled “Mappa Mundi: A Map Maker’s Dream”, was exhibited at London’s Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition 2015.
Eden and another of Tan’s project, Projection Kite, won the Bronze and Merit awards respectively in the Design for Asia Award 2020 under the category of Environmental Design. Tan is also the winner of the fifth and final cycle of the Tan Sri Chan Sau Lai Architecture Award in 2016.