Critical Coverage Critical Coverage

Critical Coverage

The early covers of the SIAJ offered a biting take on the city's urban development

Established in 1967, the Journal of the Singapore Institute of Architect (SIAJ) offered a forum for its members to express their views on the profession with vigour in its early years. It was a time of major urban transformation in Singapore as the newly independent nation led by the People's Action Party set out to become a modern city.

Besides publishing critical commentaries and reviews, the SIAJ covers also offered sharp views which were also highly attractive. The magazine was distributed only to members, which perhaps explain its generous cover format that allowed for a single graphic on the bottom half. The early issues took advantage of this, using modern techniques such as photography and photomontage to put together an artful critique on issues ranging from demolition of urban heritage to generic public housing designs.

According to a publication committee member Wee Chwee Heng, many of the early covers were likely created by his colleague Jack Tan, an architect who was also interested in graphic design.

As Singapore architecture became increasingly professionalised, and busy with actual development, SIAJ covers reflected this too. They tended towards showcasing completed projects instead, an inward looking mode that has become standard for architecture magazines around the world.