Tan Pei Xuan
This project looks at domestic life and common living arrangements. It is based on my family’s home sphere. The project comprises of three parts, each responding to my interests in spatial negotiation.
Gender x Domesticity.
The aim of the project is to investigate the social construction of gendered experiences in a space and redesigning a gender-neutral home.
What does Gendered spaces mean?
Gendered spaces refer to a set of spaces that are allocated to people based on their gender identity. Gendered spaces also reflect the social norms of everyday life (Nakhal, 2015), where spaces are determined based on the notion of gender while interacting with the activities. (Golfman, 1977)
What does gendered spaces mean to me?
In my opinion, it seems that women are confined by the standardized procedures by the society. In turn, the society possesses a thought that recommends household chores and tasks as a job for the women, so that they would dedicate themselves fully to the house. It reflected the moral values of society in the past. Coming back to the present, women have changed their way of thinking. Instead of accepting the nature of women’s domesticity, they hoped for status, power and education. Compared with the past and present, the way women perceived things have definitely changed. This motivated women to actively support and pursue their own domesticity.
Case Study: My Home
How are family roles being played out in gendered spaces?
Using my house as a case study, my main aim would be looking into how social policies have affected the way I live, as 80% of Singapore’s population lives in a Public Housing unit. Through the narrative view of a first person account, it helps to better understand the idea that I would want to bring forth, through material objects as it gives a relation to the occupants. It also delves into the negotiation and segregation of spaces caused by gender. I will be using an autoethnographic approach to analyze this case study with some frameworks that are used to facilitate it. The case study takes a walk through the house with a floor plan of the unit and photographs to capture the essentials. The house that I am staying in is a four-room flat that was built in 1997, in the estate of Jurong East.
How do you define ‘masculine’ or a ‘feminine’ space?
Before I dive into splitting up the spaces into ‘his’ and ‘hers’, I would need to find out the real meaning of gender. If so, what tools do I use to define gender? Looking at the precedent study done by Hannah Rozenberg, she came up with a digital calculator to define the meaning of gender. By using gender biases that were embedded in technology, I was able to find out the ‘gender’ of certain spaces.
On the right, the diagram shows an example of how the digital calculator works. By inputting a certain word, the graph would lean towards ‘he’ or ‘she’. In order to try it out, I keyed in ‘blue’ and ‘pink’, and the results was what I have expected. Leaning towards the right would give it a positive gender unit, which means ‘pink’ is greatly associated with ‘she’. Leaning towards the left would give it a negative gender unit, which means ‘blue’ is associated with ‘he’. This tool has greatly helped me to understand that certain terms have already been embedded into the society and/or technology, thus, it is tough to change the conception of such mindset.
What is considered a ‘masculine’ or a ‘feminine’ space?
Moving forward, I used the digital calculator to calculate the spaces in my home. The results are not what I expected to be as it differs from my family’s space usage. *GU represents Gender Unit.
How can I redefine Gendered Spaces?
What would happen if I use gender stereotypes to design the homes?
Based on the typical stereotypes that are given to each gender, I will be using those terms to redesigning the home. The three designs are the Female Home, the Male Home, and the Neutral Home.
My Final Home.
Does the naming of rooms affects the way the functions are being portrayed?
Organic. Soft. Delicate.
Pink. Clean. Bright.
Decorative. Sensitive. Form> Function.
Angular. Dark. Complex.
Tough. Logical. Function> Form.
Blue. Dominating. Decision Making.
Neutral. Minimal. Essential.
Neutral. Minimal. Essential.
Home vs. Domesticity.
What is home? What is domesticity?
What are the differences between these two terms?
Home is established in a quite fixed manner with clear functions assigned to each space and with specific roles according to each room. The idea of the home as something static is changing with new lifestyles, where some have the privilege to choose a life in motion and others are forced into it by precarious work and home conditions.
Domesticity perpetuates the relationship between the physical and the imaginary realms of home. Domestic practices create (through the material comforts) and maintain (through rules and practices e.g., housekeeping) the idealized notion of home. It draws upon the performative aspect of people and delineates how they visualize, negotiate and realize ambitions for comfort, security, privacy and independence provided through the agency of architecture. (Chee & Park, 2013)
To compare between the two, home acts as a foundation for relationships, domesticity goes beyond of what it is. It initiates the act and giving people more than what the structure could provide.
What does domesticity mean to me?
To me, domesticity means the process of home-making. It requires joint efforts from the people and their environment to make sure that it is balanced out.
Introduction to Domesticity.
The project aims to rethink/ relook at domestic life by forming new typologies of living arrangements.
In order to understand the way we live, I look into every day’s routines and objects. Based on the informed experiences of the physical space, I open up to possible transformations on the different types of dwellings. The main consideration of this project would be my family, as I am looking into my domestic life.
I have come to realize that we constantly tussle between our known thoughts that we experience and new knowledge that provides a different perspective on things, which lead me to discover the negotiation of spaces by occupants, an adaptation of roles within space and their behavioral expectations. Subsequently, presenting a series of observations that shed light into the real domesticity of Singapore.
The project comprises of three parts, each responding to my interests in spatial negotiation. They are:
1. Labour x Domesticity (Live, Work, Play), which looks at the reconstruction of my home, taking into consideration my family’s routines and space usage.
2. Gender x Domesticity (Gendered Spaces), which explores the use of spaces and activities in relation to their gender.
3. Pets x Domesticity (Catification), which opens up possibilities of having a collaborative environment between owners and their pets.
Labour x Domesticity.
The aim of the project is to reconfigure my home by redefining the spaces where labour and domestic activities take place.
The pandemic has had an immediate impact upon everyone— completely transforming the daily experience of our lives. One of the most far-reaching changes has been that in a very short amount of time, our relationship to work has been completely transformed. Millions of people are suddenly working from home, which has raised many questions for the future of housing design. Even as the pandemic has pushed to the surface the inequality embedded in the current DIY conversion of domestic space into workspace, it has also presented the idea that another world might be possible. If we create a live-work space that could improve the current situation of our lives, how might new living typologies help with creating a balance life?
Domesticity and Labour are not separated by definite borders in today’s society, causing productive spaces to become unproductive and making home an area unsuitable for rest. By separating the spaces where Labour and Domestic activities take place, the efficiency of each activity will increase, which will positively affect the atmosphere of each space. They can be organised into a system of productivity. The targeted community would be the home owners. With work-from-home set to be commonplace even when the Covid-19 pandemic is over, more people are looking for layouts in residential units that can effectively be transformed into home offices. This is an investigation into the potential of the domestic space and everyday life when moving from an individualistic lifestyle towards a collaborative one.
About the Site.
I am explaining these themes in the context of my own home. It is located in Jurong East, Singapore. Located near the heart of Jurong, my home is accessible to the surrounding towns, Bukit Batok and Clementi. Using my house as a case study, my main aim would be looking into the current way of living, and making greater changes by redesigning my home. Through the narrative view of a first-person account, it helps to better understand the idea that I would want to bring forth, through material objects as it gives a relation to the occupants. The house that I am staying in is a four-room flat that was built in 1997, in the estate of Jurong East.
Living & Working Spaces.
At the living room, as you can see, the table is placed right next to the television. So when my mother is watching her show, and when my brother/ father is using the computer to do work, it might affect their productivity (due to sight and hearing). The work space do not have its privacy, and can be easily distracted. In order to supervise my brother, my father had placed a working area near the living room. He will be able to keep an eye on him while watching the television at the same time. The negotiation of space occurs in the moment, where the purpose of the spaces interlinks with each other. The quality of space changes through the interaction between the occupants. (Goffman, 1977). Before the pandemic, it was not as serious as they do not have to stay at home daily.
From my observations, it seems that there are no distinction between the realms of working and living. Even with the thought of separating both activities (placing one to the another room), it seems that there is a lack of space to cater to both activities. Initially, the working area was placed there due to that. Looking at Figure X and X, it shows the situation of space on the table. Another issue is to be organized. it shows the working condition of the space.
Diagrams were done in a 24h format to track my family’s typical weekday routine. The diagram tracks the prominent spaces that my family frequents the most, where it shows their priority in the usage of space at home. By comparing the paths they took before and after the pandemic, it shows the results of how my family were affected by it. The spaces usage needs to be reconsidered as it has to fit every element in during the pandemic season.
After looking at the spaces visually, I divided them into 3 main zones, which are live, work and play. Live, work and play is a balance skillset that I would like to create in my design. It is a lifestyle where people aim achieve it. Based on my definitions, I came up with diagrams to illustrate my thoughts.
I would like to create a system whereby homeowners are able to configure their own spaces according to their needs and preferences. Using the diagrams, people can choose how to configure their spaces. As an example, I have selected my ideal space which is a combination of L1 + W5 + P2.
They can be rearranged throughout the day to meet the demands of the homeowners as they work, play and learn from home, while retaining the core elements of domesticity. This combination allows me to create flexible living and work spaces, which is specially catered to my family. It would helped my family to have a conducive environment for the activities they are doing.
The two moveable booths are separated to form a home office with a desk and a living and dining room. The flexible volumes can divide the open plan into 3 rooms.
The model helps to explain the layout reconfiguration ideation I had in mind. The model is made up of 3 components, with the first being live, second being work and third being play. These are able to move or slide according to the way you like. As the material is slightly transparent, you will be able see the full system as they stack on one another. By enabling each system to be configured according to your own spaces, it allows the user to see and experience the kind of spaces that they make up of, allowing them the fully utilize their space. By having such concept of reconfiguration, home owners will able to maximize their home spaces to the fullest. It provides a interesting view in seeing home spaces.
Pets x Domesticity.
The aim of the project is to create a space where humans and cats are able to live in a collaborative environment.
What does catification means?
Catification is the art of making changes and adjustments to your home that meet the needs of both you and your cat (aesthetically and spatially). You want to create spaces that really satisfy your cat’s primal instincts and challenge them the way being outdoors does. Your cat’s instincts propel them to jump, perch, climb, play, sleep, eat, hunt, and claim their own territory.
What does the human – feline relationship signify?
Cat living indoors are under the charge of their human caretakers. This means guardians control what, when, and where their cats eat, as well as where they use the litter box. Guardians also are responsible for their cats’ opportunities to engage in species-appropriate activities.
Cat guardians who try to get their cats to adapt to their human lifestyle and preferences without considering cats’ true nature and needs will likely find themselves with an unhappy cat who exhibits what the guardian deems as undesired behaviour problems. A cat guardian must try to understand how domestication affects their cats’ behaviours, well-being and health. (Benjamin, 2018)
Introducing Min Ying, who has been a cat owner of 9 years.
An avid cat lover who makes frequent trips to cat cafes and enjoys the company of cats.
Name: Min Ying
Pet Owner of: 9 years
Cat Name: Prosciutto
Breed: Domestic Shorthair
Q: In the house, where does your cat usually hangs out?
A: My cat usually hangs out at the balcony as most of her stuff is placed there. She likes to play outdoor and bathe in the warm sun during late afternoon to evening. Other times, she would stay in the living room or on my bed as it is comfortable.
Q: Why does she hangs out at the balcony in particular?
A: Her bed is placed there and there are many boxes for her to explore, as cats like boxes in nature. It is also easy for her to scratch the surface of the boxes. Since she is also not allowed to stray, the balcony provides a outdoor environment for her.
Q: Are there any interesting traits about your cat?
A: It seems that she is quite lazy but is more active at night (cats’ natural behaviour). She is quite picky with her items and does not need expensive pet items like the scratching posts as she is satisfied with the boxes.
Q: Are they any changes made to the interior of your home due to your cat?
A: I mostly changed the balcony area so as to put my cat’s items like food, bed and litter box. It results in lesser space for my family to put my laundry. Even though the balcony is not meshed up, my cat is smart enough to not jump out.
Q: What are some problems you faced at home?
A: When it rains, her items have to be moved into the living room from the balcony. Since she is also afraid of thunder and lighting, she would avoid the window areas. I feel that there is a lack of scratching areas as she ended up scratch the dining chairs and storage boxes.
Day / Night Light.
The following diagrams show the sun path ranging from 0900 to 2100 hours. By doing so, it provides opportunities to work on areas that are shaded/ unshaded. It can also be used to infer Prosciutto’s possible locations as she likes to be in the sun.
This diagram illustrates the common route that Prosciutto takes. It shows the places that she commonly visits. By inferring from her locations and the sun light, it can be seen that she does enjoy the sunlight. The place that she spend the most time at would be the balcony/ living room, followed by Min Ying’s bedroom, the master bedroom and lastly, the kitchen.
I have came up with 7 different features for cats to live in the house, which are 90 degrees, Ventil(c)ation, The Cat Plank, Catallina, Raised (c)atform, A Catastrophe and CatWalk? Catwalk!. These are specially catered towards pets and the human lifestyle.
In total, there are 7 different features for cats to live in the house. I sincerely hope that the creation of these installations would allow for a more collaborative environment between the humans and the cats. To each has their own spaces, they are able to enjoy their comfort and privacy collectively.
Other than these features, owners should spend more time with their cats, so as to observe and control their behaviour. There seems to be a relation to playing and hunting, increasing their instincts level.
“In the case of a cat, we have never found any particular significance to the human being. Cats prefer to play with toys that in some way look like their pray; they got feathers on them or they are furry or they are about the right size that a cat would safely be able to prey on… and cats play more intensely when they get hungry.”
– John Bradshaw (Bradshaw, 2013)
As Mark Twain says, “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” (Lezard, 2014) This project gives me a better understanding of the way cats perceive the world, and how humans can better accommodate ourselves to them.