Historic dwellings like conservation shophouses are repositories of memories, with previous lives and a past of their own. Ministry of Design explores history and our relationship with the past, present and future through the concept of layers in Canvas House at Blair Road.
Blurring the boundaries between space and object, MOD conceptually blanketed Canvas House with a layer of white that covers the past, and provides a canvas for the future. The house rhythmically reveals parts of its past, with Shadows of old timber as well as Layers of revealed brick and intricate details of pre-owned furniture.
At the same time, MOD invites visitors to imagine a future with Dream, a text-based neon piece that the studio created, with a quote by Thomas Jefferson that encapsulates MOD’s approach to Canvas House. The quote summarizes the attitude of the house; Colin explains, “it is a neutral white canvas for the future to be dreamt upon, rather than a wholesale homage to the past.”
“When it comes to adaptive reuse projects, the question is always the same, how do we tread the line between the past and the present? If one opts for the project to be just about preservation, it’s as good as time standing still… which could be paralysing and inhibiting. But at the same time, neither do we want to disregard history completely by creating something too foreign or novel. Our response was to layer over the existing history with a proverbial blank canvas whilst leaving choreographed glimpses into the past, blanketing both space and the furniture in it - allowing us to blur the inherent boundaries between past and present, object and space.”