Vibrant steel and glass apartment rises from Singapore

Written by By Jalena Sayle, CNN

Architecter Harjinder Sukhi Kaur creates impressive pieces from simple materials, like wood, plants and stone. So it’s no surprise that the industrial cabin she built in 2011 from a rusting wooden box in Singapore’s Heungkong district has intrigued locals and visitors.

But it’s the box’s eerie and slightly macabre shape that has viewers excited.

“Many visitors approach me to inquire about its history. At first glance, they may think that the box was built to house a desperate servant, or a housemaid,” Kaur said.

“But it’s actually a creative piece of art, like this container, which is [also] a container for life. It’s [also] about the tension between urban living and the ecological context in which we live, in a container city such as Singapore,” she said in an email.

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The Singapore artist is no stranger to unusual designs — she previously led a team of architects, artists and historians in designing an ocean liner-sized tanker for Sumitomo Corporation.

Set to open in Singapore in January, the company’s Shipping Museum will feature the ship’s total contents, which span almost 20 years of cargo transport.

So why has Kaur been so focused on such concepts for so long?

“Throughout my career as an architect, I often ask myself what kind of collective consciousness my art builds or inspires,” she said.

“I would like to think that the communal way of life and the container city exist side by side. They are part of the same world. The common practice of piling shipping containers on land and placing humans in them points to a relation between the urban space and the sustainable land,” she said.

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