For our second week of Spatial Design class, we went on a field trip to the Chinese Heritage Centre. There, we visited the upstairs Nantah Pictorial Exhibition which showcased the history of NTU starting with its founding as Nanyang University (Nantah) to its purpose today as a technological university. We overlooked the Yunnan Gardens from the third floor and walked through the library including the early textbooks collection, a beautiful room filled with original teaching texts from Nantah’s first years.
Understanding exhibition design and spatial design requires much more societal and historical research than I had anticipated. Looking at the CHC’s front facade, it is clear that the building has a rich heritage and value on NTU’s campus. Yet, every inch inside the building seemed to tell the same story about the rich Chinese heritage of the entire country of Singapore and the strong community that has built this university. Much of the university was donated as was most of the art, books, artifacts and items inside the heritage center. This seems to be a direct result of the passion people had/have in Singapore for their ancestral heritage and for education, NTU being a physical representation of both. It amazed me that this building is a National Monument of Singapore and every tile, doorway, column, ceiling, and wall has gone untouched since the declaration of its preservation in 1999. To me, spatial design is now the communication of a peoples’ story (or heritage) by turning a space into a meaningful place for those people to share with others.
If you want to learn more about NTU’s history, I’d recommend you to visit this exhibition at the CHC. You can read more here: