The Brick Garden

Client Confidential
Program Architecture / Landscape /
Interior Refurbishment (Food & Beverage)
Area 50 m² (Indoor)
380 m² (Outdoor)
Status Proposal
Year of Completion 2012

Shrinking footprint creates a nostalgic brick wall that snakes around an existing open courtyard.

 The new live performance restaurant at Substation seeks to diversify and bring back past memories of the Substation courtyard and its vicinity as a gathering hub.  Sharing the premises with Singapore’s early Avant Garde and independent arts centre, the Substation, the new restaurant seeks to assimilate into the arts program rather than solely bringing their commercial interests.  This performance venue will not only promote live music performances but live performances of any genre.  This could boasts as a preview platform for the existing arts groups, providing an outreach to a greater audience and creates an increased awareness for their work.

Memory & Materiality

 The Substation, the former National Library and the surrounding eateries formed significant memories for many and were very much the informal discussion hub of that district. Studio SKLIM seeks to capture the essence of the yesteryears with fragments of materiality and spatial configuration by presenting them in a new light and form.

The brick structure of the former National Library and its inner courtyard was a significant setting for many intellectual discussions and gatherings. Using brick as the primary material as a subtle insertion to the original layout of the Courtyard space serves as a reminder to the past but presents itself in a new curved and sensuous form that snakes around the existing Substation courtyard.

The effect of such an intervention is two-fold; firstly by the formal gesture of distinguishing this new establishment from the old boundary wall and secondly by creating a U-shaped green buffer in the in-between space.  This green buffer introduces a new familiarity and plays a more practical role of breaking sound waves to the main building and its neighbours.  The possibility of introducing ecological strategies such as urban farming and the laying of rainwater discharge pipes for usage in the kitchen have also been considered.

Architectural Elements

The architectural space consists of four main elements:

Brick Scape

  1. A brick paving and low wall is introduced to the original courtyard configuration.
  2. A sensitive insertion of a new element while respecting the original configuration.
  3. The Brick Scape acts as paving, bar top, seating, planter, light fixtures, partition and safety barrier.


  1. The main drinking hole of the establishment.
  2. A meshed cage surrounds the bar with vines and a green roof.
  3. The green roof could also acts a rainwater collector and in-built filtration that channels rainwater for general cleaning.

Performance Stage

  1. The performance stage is host to live music events, arts performances, talks and rehearsals.
  2. The Bar and Performance Stage are seen as fraternal twins of the same design element.
  3. Curtains covering all sides of the stage help switch its day to evening mode for the accommodation of evening performances from rehearsals.


  1. The canopy is a pixelated canvas that adjusts its height and shape according to the localized needs of each particular area.
  2. The framework of this structure rests on varying height poles that are suitable for each specific height location (eg; higher poles near the stage for unobstructed views from afar) and are connected by a network of tensile wires, very much like a spider’s web.
  3. Each panel or pixel is covered by a suitable fabric that relies on sunshade analysis to determine its shading coefficient. Some panels are deliberately left open to allow existing tree foliage to sprout though.  The surface of the canopies differentiates according to existing tree coverage and daylight concerns.  The overall effect mimics a cover of pixelated tree leaves.
  4. Open views to the sky on a clear starry night are very much a priority as well and we intend to make some areas retractable.  There will also be significant attempts to utilise the “stack effect” to channel fresh breezes and dissipate hot air through the canopy form and its components.

It is hoped that this new food and beverage establishment will bring a new edge of nostalgia and significance to this once vibrant arts hub.