The stories of average Singaporeans take centre stage on the shortlist for this year’s National University of Singapore (NUS) History Prize. The mix of academic work and historical fiction forgoes the traditional view of history as a record of big movers and shakers. One of the six books in the running is Kamaladevi Aravindan’s novel Sembawang (2020, available here), which details life in the estate of the same name across five decades.
The NUS prize is administered by the Department of History and seeks to cast a wide net for consideration of works that deal with history in general or Singapore in particular, regardless of country of origin. It aims to make the complexities and nuances of Singapore’s history more accessible to non-academic audiences.
It also aims to generate a greater understanding among Singapore citizens of their own unique history. Kishore Mahbubani, a distinguished fellow at NUS’ Asia Research Institute, who mooted the prize in a Straits Times column, says: “Nations are imagined communities, and a shared imagination, especially shaped by memory, is a critical glue that holds them together today.”
The competition was open globally and saw 31 publishers submit their books to the panel of judges comprising academics and experts from other fields. The book must have a significant Singapore element, be published in English and be available for sale or distribution. Self-published works are not eligible for the prize.
Applicants are required to fill in an online form, write a essay of about 2,000 words and provide two letters of recommendation. Selection is based on the essays and interviews with candidates, and the final winners will be announced on 6 November.
As the smallest nation in Southeast Asia, Singapore is no stranger to environmental challenges and the effects of climate change. It’s also a hub for innovators and entrepreneurs, who are dedicated to repairing our planet. The awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with a new Earthshot Week that will see global leaders, businesses and investors convene in the city to explore exciting opportunities aimed at accelerating their solutions and bringing about tangible actions to repair the planet.
This year’s prizes will also feature ‘local activations’ in the form of local events and performances by renowned musicians and artists. More information on the exact programme will be released closer to the event.
A housing complex for seniors has beaten flashier competition to win the World Building of the Year award at the World Architecture Festival, considered one of the top architectural accolades. Kampung Admiralty, a soaring, circular complex in the heart of the city’s financial district, has won over the likes of a skyscraper and a museum as a result of its design, functionality and community involvement.
The winning entry was designed by Singaporean architects DP Architects and built for developer CapitaLand. The structure is clad in white and encloses a central courtyard filled with water features and seating areas that encourage people to mingle and interact. The building was built in a slum in a former industrial area, but now stands as a symbol of the city’s resilience and its ability to adapt and thrive.