May 29, 2024

Interconnected spaces in our historic shophouse office world

The whole idea of being in a heritage space is very exciting, as we get to build our own world on the inside of a shophouse, and be as versatile and adaptable as we want. 

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April 25, 2024

Worldbuilding future retail spaces in historic shophouses

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Guests at the Dior pop-up, held at the 4 Jiak Chuan shophouse.

These days, shophouses aren’t just for F&B establishments. The Afternaut is working with Meir Collective, a real estate investment and management company, who own multiple shophouses, and we’ve noticed a rising trend of high street and luxury brands opening up in shophouses in Singapore. The Coach Play Singapore Shophouse and House of Birkenstock opened to much excitement as they sprinkled a little magic onto our heritage shophouse rows.

At 4 Jiak Chuan Road, MEIR Collective was proud to welcome three very distinct brands into its threshold - DIOR, Shiseido, and Love Bonito, for pop-up launches. This sparked some excitement on the possibilities of shophouse spaces as mediums for brands to engage with customers in a unique way, outside of the usual shopping mall space.

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The interest in shophouses is still going strong and we think it will continue to do so, for as long as shophouses remain. Beyond just speaking about shophouses in terms of its monetary value, we decided to pen our thoughts here to discuss the deeper value of shophouses that we feel is the anchor for its consistent demand.

The Beauty of "Chancing Upon"

Shophouses are a platform for brands to build their own world outside of the world of the shopping mall and its rules. Instead of having to draw attention in a cluttered commercial space, the shophouse offers a quieter, charming experience. Customers can stumble upon brands situated in a historic, quaint enclave. The pleasant surprise of “chancing upon” a brand you did not expect to see in a heritage shophouse elevates the retail experience, arouses curiosity and helps to place brands in a different light.

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The entrance of Love, Bonito's pop up at 4 Jiak Chuan.

Being in a shophouse presents endless possibilities - brands can build any kind of world they want inside the shophouse, from an exclusive launch of a luxury product line to the celebration of a new marketing campaign. Here are three different campaigns that left their mark at MEIR’s Jiak Chuan shophouse:

The World of Dior

The World of Shiseido

The World of Love, Bonito

Leveraging our heritage to build meaningful spaces

Shopping malls may present homogeneous experiences - most of the time, the same few anchor tenants can be found in the malls around our tiny island. But shophouses are a unique Southeast Asian story of our shared history and culture. Anyone can build a shiny new shopping mall with sky gardens, water features and technological marvels, but to create a whole new world in a heritage shophouse that has been repurposed meaningfully is a satisfying accomplishment.

Heritage shophouses are the medium and platform to connect brands, investors, landlords and the community. More than just relics that we look upon through lenses of nostalgia, Afternaut and MEIR are repurposing pieces of Singapore's history to make them relevant, adaptable, and meaningful for present and future generations. The Afternaut too is building our own world in our new shophouse office at 71 Kampong Bahru, and we can’t wait to show it to you once it’s ready.

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February 14, 2024

Three things we learned about rewilding and placemaking – from the perspective of a couple of urban dwellers

We thought that rewilding would be hard in urban Singapore, but we’ve learned that rewilding doesn’t only have to take place in places with vast natural landscapes. Rewilding in urban spaces is actually a very broad topic with a lot of different applications across work, ecology, and even our daily lives. 

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August 4, 2023

Why Placemaking in Geylang?

What sets one neighbourhood in Singapore apart from the other? For many Singaporeans, it’s the food. Prata from this neighbourhood, chicken rice from that one, satay from another one. But besides food, what else distinguishes neighbourhoods in Singapore from each other?

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August 3, 2023

Placemaking as a Way to Embrace Nature and Technology

The built environment industry is here to stay, and beyond the houses we live in, we have spaces in our neighbourhoods and cities that we love. How can we make sure that these spaces are available to us for years to come? And what about the plants and animals in these spaces?

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March 10, 2023

What does it take to be a female leader in the design world?

We chat with Gwen Tan, Afternaut’s Design Principal. She shares her favourite projects with us, chats about questioning the status quo, and why she doesn’t have a project she calls her “greatest”.

Gwen is also Co-founder of Formwerkz, and Co-Founder/Principal Designer of interior design firm Studio iF. This interview was done as a special for International Women’s Day 2021.

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February 27, 2023

Lessons We Learned From Working In China

Afternaut got our start in China and looking back now, we’re grateful for all the opportunities we’ve had to create some of our favourite work. The fast pace, strength of relationships and the resourcefulness we’ve had to build add up to our experiences working in China.

Since then we’ve applied what we’ve learned to projects in Singapore too. Afternaut’s co-founders Berlin Lee, Kokyong Chew and Chong Zhe Wei share what they learnt about building a harmonious, constructive working relationship in the competitive Chinese market.

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February 27, 2023

Taking a break at Comma Convenience Store

Pioneering the ultimate convenience store experience, Comma is a convenience store that was set up in China in 2017, and is a completely manless store with no staff. Customers also don’t need to touch anything in the store other than the products they intend to purchase. Comma turns any space into an area where the community can gather to refresh themselves, a place for a break, or a pause, like a comma in a sentence.

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February 2, 2023

Placemaking to rejuvenate dead spaces

More than just an exhibition, the Zero One Tech Festival is a placemaking project that merges technology and sites with old uses into something valuable.

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January 5, 2023

The Evolution of Lighting and its Effect on Spaces

Good lighting is an aspect that may sometimes be glossed over in spatial design. Here's why it's important and what are some things that can be done.

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The Afternaut Group Pte Ltd. 2024


The Afternaut Group Pte Ltd. 2024