2019 / Funan, Singapore / W!LD RICE LTD

WILD RICE @ FUNAN is a performing arts facility located at the heart of Singapore’s civic and cultural district. Created as the new home for Singapore theatre company Wild Rice, the scheme occupies the upper storeys of the redeveloped Funan centre. The venue features the 358-seat Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre, in addition to a 60-seat performance studio; rehearsal rooms; and the company’s administrative office.

The stage measures ten metres deep and six metres wide while the ceiling height is 16 metres; no seated audience will be more than 12 metres away from the performers on stage. The entire space is free of columns and concrete. It is at once grand and intimate. Warmth, density and intimacy are the overarching aims of the space.

The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre is Singapore’s first dedicated thrust stage, whose typology places the audience on the stage’s three sides, as opposed to the proscenium stage, which faces the audience only from a single direction.

The stage is modelled after the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon and drew inspiration from traditional stages closer to home like the Chinese opera teahouses, Japanese Noh performance and Malay Mak Yong, all of which place the audience around the stage.
The theatre’s diamond-patterened walls are inspired by Singapore’s old National Theatre, which was demolished in 1986 and whose five-pointed facade represented the five stars of the Singapore flag.

The material palette and soft surfaces work in tandem to create optimum conditions for the human voice, with little or no need for microphones or other vocal enhancement systems. Even from the most inexpensive seat furthest away from the stage, a performer’s whisper can be heard clearly.

The theatre’s back wall and ceiling are made from solid wooden planks and beams which were used in the construction of traditional Chinese opera stages. With “wayang timber” pieces dating back up to 70 years, they contain the spirit and marks of generations of opera and getai performers, inspiring visitors to think about our cultural history of performance.