Adisak Chiew Han Hui
I believe that every interior has a unique narrative that is generated by communal and cultural activities, and that design may not always adequately consider all situations that are generated over time. How can we represent the essence that is generated in these spaces in our designs, to bring an awareness of our collective, communal and cultural roots? This project aims to uncover narratives of communal heritage in Singapore in order that these can be spatialised. Ultimately, the project proposes a new methodological design approach for community spaces.
Photos were used to zone out where the natural lighting is coming from and appearing. I was imagining how can natural lighting be that abstraction medium to make the “wedding” of an everyday void deck. As Willam H.Whyte explains in his book, [The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces] Somehow, it’s all-too-common to ignore critical factors like wind and sun when designing community spaces. We tend to ignore the natural occurrences of our space. I feel that the void deck has always been a space that has no specific entrance or exit, but multiple opening to maintain visual connectivity. As such, natural lightning and wind always seep in from the opening which I feel that it always overlooked by people transiting through it.
Site Observation: Void Deck
Void deck – an open public space found on the ground floor of Singapore public housing (HDB), commonly used for transiting through blocks or communal activities. The void deck is the closest public space to our home. It is void of any functions and programmes, which gave birth to its name. It can be perceived as a mundane space that we just use to get across blocks within our residential blocks. However, is it void? To me, I beg to differ.
Void Deck reveals to us the potential of how a void space can transform through moments of communal activities such as the traditional Malay Wedding and Chinese Funeral Services. Moments like this in the void deck reveals Singapore’s unique communal and cultural heritage which could be an important answer to how can Singapore spaitialise a public space and engage communities.
The traditional Malay wedding is one important cultural and communal heritage that has continued through the generations, from the kampong to our public housing (HDBs) today. The uniqueness of the Malay wedding is that it usually involved the whole kampong celebrating together, where the void deck can express that sense of openness, and involving everyone as it celebrated in the public realm.
Leading on, I questioned how can we abstract this essence of involving everyone to engage with each other, engage with the void deck.
I took an interest in how the Malay wedding hall in the void deck is photographed as a one-point perspective view. I tried to understand the spaitialisation from a photograph. I wanted to illustrate and the wedding in almost a surgical slice method, almost like body anatomy “slice” in computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan that reveals the structures inside a body. What exactly is the structure of the Malay wedding in a void deck that allow for the celebration to take place?
I imagined the void deck to be a lightbox, due to the occurrence of natural light seeping into the void deck as a visual cue of nature in the morning, and the use of artificial lighting in the night. Hence, I made testing model of the void deck seem like a “lightbox”. I wanted to experiment to see how a transparency sheet can control the lighting to poetise the void deck into a spatial experience to engage communities of everyday life.
I wanted to express this experimentation as a form of installation where communities can come into contact with the curtain. This form of interaction will have an added layer of variables of how the light is being portrayed. This manifestation uncovers the narratives of our cultural and communal heritage in the void deck in an abstract fashion. I feel that public installations act as a tool to question the designer’s power over design. When people are being able to interact with the installation, the designer is no longer able to control the outcome. This temporary installation urges us to rethink the importance of two important factors that we tend to overlook: the natural occurrences of the site, and the consider cultural and communal essences of the site.