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Drawn to The Hive

People from around the world flock there like bees to honey. Not just one of Singapore’s most Instagrammable buildings, The Hive, NTU’s learning hub, inspires everything from sketches and paintings to wedding photo shoots
by Kwok Pei Fang

Butterfly Art Studio student Leong Shu Han’s artistic interpretation of The Hive when she was eight years old.

“We brought 12 primary school students to The Hive for an outdoor drawing experience. The students found the structure of the building unique. Most of them live around Jurong West, near NTU, so the experience felt close and dear to them. They were excited to draw The Hive and for some of them, it was their first time going outdoors to draw.”

Jasmine Chen
Principal of Butterfly Art Studio

“We were so impressed by how glorious The Hive looked. Inside, everything is arranged in hexagons and there’s greenery everywhere. Its outer shape looks special, like stacks of Chinese dim sum baskets. We were inspired to create our art pieces and all of us enjoyed our time there. I hope that I can return soon to draw this spectacular building again.”

Oscar Guan
12-year-old student of Butterfly Art Studio

“I was commissioned to do a series of sketches, one of which was The Hive. I did my bachelor’s degree at NTU and lived in the hall, so going back to NTU was nostalgic. The Hive was built after I graduated, so it was my first time seeing it. I found the architecture interesting and comforting – futuristic but with a natural vibe. The plants grown as part of the façade fit the brown building design well. The round shapes also give a gentler and more welcoming feel than the other angular buildings on campus. Much of my art revolves around the theme of nature. I am heartened that NTU has taken an active role to create sustainable buildings like The Hive. As an art therapist who incorporates nature into my therapy and community arts work, I am also interested to find out more about the social enterprises, community spirit and cross-pollination of ideas that The Hive aims to encourage.”

Chan Shu Yin
Nanyang Business School alumna, art therapist and founder of Creative Earth Art Therapy

“My friends and I visited The Hive and also NTU’s School of Art, Design & Media, buildings that are quite famous in the architectural and engineering fields, which we’re in. We had an art session at The Hive. It’s a good place to hang out at because it is well ventilated despite having no air-conditioning in the hallways. The building is also strategically designed with natural lighting. Being an architect, my design philosophy gravitates towards organic architecture, and this building exemplifies the ideals that I truly admire. There is a harmonious balance of the different users’ activities and the natural environment outside.”

Hazel Angeli Lapastora

“It’s a must-visit place in Singapore. I love the unique design of The Hive. Architect Thomas Heatherwick’s works are amazing. At The Hive, you’ll feel like you’re on the other side of the world and not in Singapore because the building is so raw and unfinished. I like the façade and internal space – it is open and humble. I felt I was sketching and looking at a beautiful lady, and was never bored. I was inspired as an artist to always strive to create something unique and different, just like The Hive, and have people similarly coming from afar to see my works.”

Ohm Chongthanatrakol
Thai artist and interior designer

“The couple are recent NTU graduates. I used the bride’s movement to echo the outline of The Hive. Here, the bride is twirling to mimic the shape of The Hive, and to show freedom and blissfulness. As a photographer, I am very taken by The Hive. Its exterior exudes warmth while its interior is cool, creating two different feels at the same location. This variation of styles makes it an ideal place for photoshoots. It’s so easy to spend the entire day shooting there.”

Ares Su
Lifestyle photographer

“I sketched The Hive after receiving my letter of admission to NTU’s master’s programme. I was overjoyed! The Hive is one of NTU’s iconic spots and many people love to take pictures of it and with it. I was attracted to the building’s structure – it really looks like a beehive! One of the best things about The Hive is how easy it is to have discussions there. My friends and I go there for group meetings. It’s a wonderful place to sit at and talk about our ideas. I’ve found many good friends there.”

Gopi Krishna Ayyappan
Currently pursuing a Master of Science (Electronics) at NTU

“There is some interesting architecture on the NTU campus. The Hive is probably the most way-out, not to mention such a challenge to sketch. Once I got the gestural setup done with a watercolour pencil though, it wasn't too hard to do the rest in ink.

I was in awe when I first visited The Hive. The architecture is so much like a hive both inside and out, down to the cool multi-level interior with buzz and hum of activity, in this case, people.”

Kathleen Newman
Australian urban sketcher who was in NTU with her husband, a visiting professor

“I chanced upon this dim sum stall at a Chinatown hawker centre on a day it was closed. The way the stallholder stacked the dim sum baskets reminded me of The Hive. I think the design of The Hive gives it a special identity. I’m in awe of its interior, which has a central space that allows you to look up and enjoy the skylight. There are also floral pods, where each pod holds the seeds of knowledge. As an artist, I’m reminded of how the use of basic elements like lines, shapes, forms and textures are crucial to the composition of art and architecture. The building’s architecture also reminds me of the importance of spatial design for people-people interaction.”

Tang Ling Nah
Visual artist, curator and art educator