Trishaw Make-Over


11th September 2010. Written by Xin Li.

There was a Mid Autumn Light Up Event at Chinatown and you may have seen some unique trishaws on parade or on display. Those were the works of the year 1 students in my course.


Hai Sing Ah-Balling - Peanut Soup

Prior to the event, we wandered around Smith Street where a alfresco food street is located for some food. The Hai Sing Ah-Balling Peanut Soup ($2.00) was heavenly, so rich in peanut flavor without being too heavy and the glutinous rice balls go really well with this warm, sweet soup with lots of soft peanuts in it. There were 5 glutinous rice balls in it.

Da Dong Dim Sum 大東 - Char Siew Pau

In contrast, the Da Dong Dim Sum set me back with $1 per har gaw which I thought it was grossly overpriced. I went for the $1.00 Char Siew Pau instead which I found a little too bland but satisfying enough to curb a Char Siew Pau craving. Personally, I think the Johor Bahru Char Siew Pau at Changi Village is much more better. You could get 3 har gaws (shrimp dumplings) for $2 at Chinatown Complex.


And here is the explanation for our work at the evnt. Our studio came in first =) (Hard work paid off!) The trishaw is a relic of the transportation system of Old Singapore. It was a tool to connect people to the city as it ferried people around it, connecting people to places, connecting people to people in Old Singapore. Today, it is becomes part of a tourist icon, becoming a sort of empty skeleton filled with gaudy colors and tourist glitter.


Here, we wanted to bring back an atmosphere of nostalgia and connection that it once had as a vehicle of the Old Singapore, we removed the excess of decoration and retained the basic forms and necessities of the trishaw. Gaudy and loud colors were removed in favor of the white and black color scheme for simplicity as well as a reference taken from the colors of the moon. The simple color scheme was chosen emphasize on the shape of the trishaw.

The hood was removed and reconstructed with a network of rattan sticks and rice paper (traditional materials used to build lanterns), a nod to the coming Mid-Autumn Festival. What is left is just a structure of inter-twining, interlocking, circles and lines like a de-constructed lantern with an emphasis on the connectivity of forms and shapes, the shade that was like a barrier between the driver and the passenger was removed to encourage interaction.


The globe-like structure echoes the shape of a moon. Within this ‘moon lantern’, we combine the elements of a circular network and the reflection of the moon on the water for the structure as we try to re-create the patterns on light around the structure while casting a shadow of a globular map-like structure.

Throughout the process, we chose a red organic floral design cushion for its simple color scheme yet intricate patterns to go with the trishaw. An old metal box we found at the boot of the trishaw was given a new life as a storage space with an elaborate fabric interior with a matching color scheme to add a bit of sophistication to the trishaw.


Our inspiration for the images on the rice paper comes from the effect of water on light as well as motifs of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Some examples are the lines observed on the folds of the lantern as or the lines formed from a long-exposure of a sparkler.

Light plays a huge role in our piece, our structure, drawing imagery of the moon’s reflection on the water, streamlined the forms and shapes of the moon on a water reflection. Light here was manipulated by the glossy surface of transparencies, the water-like motifs, rice paper, rattan sticks and a single white light creates a ripple effect. The simplistic color scheme allows it to integrate into the surroundings as street lights, city lights ‘color’ the trishaw without blending in totally.


All in all, design elements and traits of the Mid-Autumn Festival were combined with the central notion of connectivity. Through the design, we want to connect the driver, the passenger, the past and the environment together, providing a unique experience for the viewer, the passenger and the driver each time they ride on this trishaw.





We went for dessert at Mei Heong Yuan Dessert after the event, where we had a Green Tea Shaved Ice with Red Bean for 5.00 SGD after the event. Quite decent, however, I felt the green tea flavor can be a little bit stronger.

Mei Heong Yuan Dessert 味香园 - Green Tea Ice


  1. Wow... I really like the new design of the trishaw! The shadow that it casts is very nice! :)

  2. the new trishaw's really nice! i love the pic of the green tea shaved ice too (:



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