Art and nature embellish refreshed SMU Campus Green
Thursday May 25,2017
Marking the end of two years of extensive redevelopment at Campus Green and SMU’s surrounding facilities was a double celebration on 19 May 2017, with the return of a much-loved Banyan Tree to the SMU campus and the unveiling of a second sculpture donated by Dato’ Kho Hui Meng.
Bernar Venet’s sculpture “97.5° Arc x 8” unveiled
Dato' Kho Hui Meng is the President of Oil Trading at Vitol Asia Pte Ltd and SMU has long benefitted from his generosity and contributions. The International Trading Institute@SMU, the first trading centre in the world to be set up within a university, was established in 2007, with Vitol as one of its earlier supporters. A generous donation by Dato’ Kho made it possible to open the Dato' Kho Hui Meng Career Centre at SMU in September 2012. In February 2014, he donated “Sitting on History” by the eminent sculptor Bill Woodrow, which also stands on SMU Campus Green.
Unveiling the latest gift, SMU President Arnoud De Meyer explained that “97.5° Arc x 8” is part of Bernar Venet’s Arc series of sculptures which illustrate the beauty, balance and malleability of steel. The name of this artwork is a precise description of its mathematical composition. All of the beams in the sculpture are nested and curved to the same angle providing a sense of balance and grace. The raw red-brown rust colour of the unpainted surfaces of the Corten steel facilitate an interaction with the natural elements.
“I like the way this sculpture moves up and I hope it will inspire SMU students to always aim high,” said Dato’ Kho at the unveiling.
Homecoming for a Banyan Tree
As part of the same ceremony, Mr Ho welcomed the return of a much-loved Banyan Tree to the SMU Campus. The Banyan Tree, originally weighing 450 tons was moved to make way for the new School of Law building. The tree portion was successfully transplanted to an off-site holding nursery in August 2014 and after 30 months of careful monitoring and maintenance, has been returned to SMU.
“We worked very closely with various arborists and companies with experience in mature tree transplants to explore all possibilities for preserving this Banyan Tree,” said Mr Ho. “As it was very large, it was not possible to transplant it whole, so we preserved the core part of the tree. We nurtured it carefully and are now delighted that we can replant it on our premises. Banyan trees are robust and resilient and will grow again very quickly once nurtured and reinserted in their environment. They in turn give back by adding to the lush greenery and providing shelter to our community.”
“The return of this tree demonstrates how much effort is put into the environmental sustainability of our campus… In fact, we can even see the planting of the Banyan Tree as symbolising SMU’s constant renewal and growth in pursuing excellence in education, research and in making meaningful impact on humanity.”
SMU Chairman Mr Ho Kwon Ping, ceremonially shovelling earth onto the roots of the Banyan Tree at Campus Green as Prof De Meyer (centre) and Vice President SMU Office of Campus Infrastructure and Services Mr Sundaravadivelan Selvam look on.
Campus Green – a space for everyone to enjoy
The redevelopment of Campus Green is linked to the creation of a rich variety of collaborative study facilities in the underground concourse, the building of a brand new three storey gym and fitness centre which overlooks Campus Green, as well as new facilities for SMU’s co-curricular activity groups. At the same time, the University has created facilities on Campus Green which are shared with local communities and residents and which will contribute to the vibrancy and life of the Bras Basah arts and heritage district.
There is a jogging track and all-weather lawn which will host cultural, sports and university events that are open to the public, as well as providing a pleasant city-centre environment where our students and anyone can work, rest or play. There is also an open-air amphitheatre for events that require tiered seating and a stage.
“These are the latest additions to our newly renovated Campus Green,” said Mr Ho, “which intends to serve and be enjoyed by the community around us. This is in line with SMU Vision 2025, of which one of its aims is to strengthen SMU’s integration into the city and its stakeholder groups of business, education, arts and sports and local residents through our academic and student life activities. We want to enliven our city campus for all and also hope that our students will use Campus Green for picnics, just as their peers do at the University of Berkeley or at Harvard Square, for example.”
The refreshed Campus Green, with Bernar Venet’s “97.5° Arc x 8” in the foreground and amphitheatre in the centre.
[Main photo] Dato’ Kho Hui Meng (second from right) receiving a picture of the Bernar Venet sculpture “97.5° Arc x 8” from SMU President Prof Arnoud De Meyer, flanked by Mrs Kho (far right) and SMU Chairman Mr Ho Kwon Ping far left). Behind them is the sculpture itself, which was donated by Dato’ Kho.]