SOUTHEAST ASIA BUILDING22 Apr 2022
Singapore Institute of Architects elects Melvin Tan as its new president
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Singapore – The Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), has named Ar. Melvin Tan, as the president of the 62nd SIA Council. Mr Tan is the founding partner and deputy managing director of LAUD Architects in Singapore.

Ar. Tan will head the 20-member SIA Council in 2022 for a one-year term. The 62nd SIA Council also welcomed six new members, offering to contribute fresh perspectives and innovative ideas.

The future of architecture

The theme for the new term “The Future of Architecture” reflects the need to raise awareness of what the future holds for the profession, and the necessity to come up with new and bold responses to counter the unprecedented challenges. The new council seeks to dialogue with members to exchange views on how architects practise now and envision how this could evolve in the future.

President Melvin Tan said, “As we re-imagine the role of an architect, how can we adapt and innovate to meet the future of our profession and craft? How can architecture practices evolve to provide wider and more holistic solutions across disciplinary boundaries? How can we update our competencies to create more value as thought leaders in the Built Environment (BE) sector? It is a call for us to take immediate action as the long-term future of the profession depends on what we do now. Moving forward, SIA will continue to champion the interest of our profession, and be the catalyst and galvanising body to lead the industry’s transformation.”

Ar. Tan has been active in SIA since 2019, serving as First Vice President alongside his predecessor Ar. Richard Lai in 2021. Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, they collaborated with members and stakeholders to overcome obstacles such as delays and manpower shortages, and engaged agencies on schemes to combat the pandemic’s disruption.

Talent drain

His new role will see him focusing on creating an action plan to defend the future of the architectural profession.

Ar. Tan shared, “It is a pivotal time for architecture practices as we battle talent drain amidst continuous fee-cutting and rising cost pressures. It has never been easy to attract and retain young talents in our profession, with the common perception that architects are highly-stressed, overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. There’s no denying the pandemic has disrupted the industry even more.”

“In SIA’s recent survey with more than 500 young graduates and architects, only 7 percent have indicated that they are likely to stay in the architectural profession. Talent drain could become a reality if Singapore fails to invest in a new generation of architects,” said Ar. Tan.

Ar. Tan continued, “The disruptions have made clear the urgency to safeguard the architectural profession to steer Singapore’s transformation as a nation. The Green Plan 2030, 30 by 30 Food Resilience plan, Electric Vehicle plan by 2040, and the Net Zero plan by 2050 are just some of the country’s bold plans for the future - plans that will need architects and fellow consultants to deliver. It is clear that SIA’s talent retention drive is synonymous with Nation Building 2.0.”

SIA’s multi-pronged action plan

SIA will launch a multi-pronged plan to retain talent, evolve the architects’ roles, and further augment the value the profession brings to Singaporeans’ well-being through the built environment.

1. Value Articulation: Room to Grow

As the built environment becomes more sophisticated, architects naturally take on more responsibilities and consequently more risks and liabilities. Value articulation is thus as vital as the skill sets of the architect acting as the Lead Consultant and Qualified Person, to verify not just the obvious costs of business but also the intangible abilities that are critical when delivering projects. An ecosystem of continual training at SIA and in practice is being set up to equip architects with new skills, new management frameworks and new responsibility matrices. This creates more and clearer pathways within the profession for talents to continue contributing to Singapore’s nation-building and to better represent the capabilities of practising specialists.

2. Mentorship Programme: Wellbeing and Fulfilment

Launched by the Young Architects League (YAL), the Mentorship Programme aims to support the next generation of architects as they prepare for their careers in architecture. Architecture students in polytechnics and universities are connected to experienced architects for regular check-ins, to gain a broader perspective and understanding of the industry practice.

This year, the programme will be expanded to include young graduates who are still finding their feet in the industry to guide and support them. SIA is committed to stepping up efforts to bring even more of the fresh and the wise closely together to tighten the knit of the architectural community.

3. Digital Transformation: Lifting the Value Ceiling

SIA will continue to engage the profession on new digital solutions, and support the advancement of technical and technological capabilities of architects, to increase their business efficiency and competitiveness. SIA is currently facilitating the development and industry adoption of digital initiatives, including the Integrated Digital Delivery (IDD), to integrate and digitalise the BE value chain; and Corenet X, a harmonised submission and regulatory approvals digital portal.

It is imperative that architects as lead consultants, helm the charge for digital transformation, not only in terms of know-how. but also focusing on creating more value by using their creativity and design thinking capabilities to explore new opportunities in constructing Singapore’s future landscape.

As the sole representative of the profession, SIA will continue to be the advocate and definitive voice for the architectural community. Ar. Tan is confident that through greater engagement with members and key stakeholders, SIA will be well-poised to adopt and spearhead transformations that will futureproof the profession and take the nation forward.