GSA Thesis Documentation Portfolio

Page 1

Year 4


FYP Project | Por olio

Empty Canvas

Adisak Chiew Han Hui

Glasgow School of Arts



Introduc on & Early Research


Temporal “Slices”


Implied “Folds”


Canvassing “Fills”

Void deck - an open public space found on the ground floor of Singapore public housing (HDB), commonly used for transi ng through blocks or communal ac vi es.

02 | Introduc on & Early Research

Introduc on & Early Research My interest in uncovering and understanding communal and cultural heritage started my enquiries on how my interest can be spai alised into interiors and express in everyday life. Singapore has traces of cultural heritage observed through our void deck that have followed and transformed through the genera ons. Some of these events reflect our commonness of everyday life in a public space, yet hidden due to standardisa on and regula ons enforced. It is then interes ng to see how these hidden messages can reveal themselves in public space and engage communi es. Hence, it makes me ques on how significant cultural and communal heritage is in crea ng a space. | 03

[1] empty void deck at Whampoa Road Blk 111, taken by author, 2021 [2] old lady lingering in the void deck, taken by author, 2021



The void deck is the closest public space to our home. It is void of any func ons 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 residen al blocks. However, is it void? To me, I beg to differ.

04 | Introduc on & Early Research

[3] example of Malay Wedding, courtesy of TNP [4] example of Funeral Services, courtesy of Harmony Funeral Care



Void Deck reveals to us the poten al of how a void space can transform through moments of communal ac vi es. 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 spai alise a public space and engage communi es.

| 05

[1] HDB void deck, being replaced by shopping mall (HDB: Clemen Heights, Shopping Centre: Clemen Mall) [2] HDB void deck, being replaced by green social space on different floors of the HDB, SkyTerrace@Dawnson



From an urban scale, newer HDB types have threatened the existence of our void deck with inten onal commercial func ons or green social spaces across floors of HDB blocks as a replacement of our void deck. With this implementa on, I ques on Disregarding our void deck = throwing away our communal heritage.

06 | Introduc on & Early Research

Observa on: Inten onal foot reflexology path for planned for elderly in a community garden

This community park was just right outside my void deck, and there are already traces of inten onal design built into the garden. Foot reflexology path was the main design feature of the park. Traces of personal gardening objects and tools are found, with their collec ons of plants that make the foot reflexology path looks unfit for the public park.

| 07

Design is not the act of amazing an audience with the novelty of forms or materials; it is the originality that repeatedly extracts astounding ideas from the crevices of the very commonness of everyday life. Yet, emp ness is a possibility yet to be filled

[Designing Japan: A Future Built on Aesthe cs by Kenya Hara]

During this phase of observa on and research, I was reading Kenya Hara’s books: [Designing Japan: A Future Built on Aesthe cs]. The quotes men oned resonated with me. I reflect upon this resona on with how I look at the void deck and felt that the void deck is such an important place to be retained and felt a strong urge to uncover the cultural and communal essence of the void deck. The uniqueness of objects and inten ons we have, spai alised the community space. In the scenario of my community park, users disregard the inten ons of the park and have inhabited it with their personal belongings. Almost trea ng the park like an empty canvas.

10 | Introduc on & Early Research

An empty canvas = a community space Like every empty canvas, the outcome is unpredictable and vast, only shown by communi es when the me is right. Such is the kind of design I pursue.

| 11

This project is divided into three phases, focusing on uncovering the narra ves of communal heritage in Singapore in the void deck through experimenta on and intui ve making.

Phase 1 looks at abstrac ng a tradi onal Malay wedding into a theatrical installa on that poe ses the void deck at the right me of the day with an atmospheric experience in the void deck to engage communi es through “slices”.

12 | Introduc on & Early Research

Phase 2 looks at the void deck being an itera on of the nostalgic street life and hawker culture of Singapore through “folds”.

Phase 3 looks at the void deck becoming a lingering space and a canvas that communi es can “fill”.

| 13

14 | Introduc on & Early Research

The void deck at my block will be used for 3 phases of the project to express my idea on and process of how the void deck can uncover the narra ves of cultural and communal heritage. | 15

Temporal “Slices”

Curtains flu er and sliced the void deck. Communi es pass through the mundane void deck. When they touch the curtain at the correct me, Caus cs appear as a phenomenon of touch and the temporal structure. Poe sing and celebra ng the essence of the void deck.

| 19

20 | Temporal “Slices”

Model S = 1:50 | 21

Photographs from Na onal Archives, showing Kampong trad onal wedding > Void deck tradi onal wedding

22 | Temporal “Slices”

The tradi onal Malay wedding is one important cultural and communal heritage that has con nued through the genera ons, from the kampong to our public housing (HDBs) today. The uniqueness of the Malay wedding is that it usually involved the whole kampong celebra ng together, where the void deck can express that sense of openness, and involving everyone as it celebrated in the public realm. Leading on, I ques oned how can we abstract this essence of involving everyone to engage with each other, engage with the void deck.

| 23

Example of professional Malay wedding photoshoot, by @anggundecor, Instagram

“Body Sliced” Exhibi on - Tampa, Florida, 2005

24 | Temporal “Slices”

I took an interest in how the Malay wedding hall in the void deck is photographed as a one-point perspec ve view. I tried to understand the spai alisa on 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 celebra on to take place? | 25

Let the surgical slice of the Malay wedding begin to manifest, and reveals the structure of the wedding, which transform the void deck into a royal wedding hall.

26 | Temporal “Slices”

| 35

Procession from le to right: Recep on > Guest Sea ngs > Banquet > Bersanding.

36 | Temporal “Slices”

Different scenes of the procession of the Malay wedding were taken into reference on how I studied and framed my drawing on the transparency sheets. | 37

When I draw scenes of the wedding, the scanned results were the curtains used in the Malay wedding are the main structures that spai alise the space that allow different procession of the wedding to come together. The flu ering of the curtains when the wind passes, how it blocks or allow sunlight into the void deck. 38 | Temporal “Slices”

How do I carry this manifesta on and abstrac on as a suitable material to be in the void deck for an everyday experience of a wedding?

| 39

GIF - “Body Slice” of Malay Wedding

40 | Temporal “Slices”

I used transparency sheets to draw the scenes of the wedding, to express the essence of how an everyday empty void deck, is like a canvas, that communi es can paint the wedding on it. Leading on, the use of transparency sheet as a material to used and experiment on, to create a curtain design that allows me to create a poe c spa al experience in the void deck, abstracted from the Malay Wedding. | 41

Photos were used to zone out where the natural ligh ng is coming from and appearing. I was imaging how can the natural ligh ng can be that abstrac on medium to make the “wedding” of an everyday void deck.

42 | Temporal “Slices”

As Willam H.Whyte explains in his book, [The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces] Somehow, it’s all-too-common to ignore cri cal 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 mul ple opening to maintain visual connec vity. As such, natural lightning and wind always seep in from the opening which I feel that it always overlooked by people transi ng through it. | 43

Model S = 1:50

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 ar ficial ligh ng in the night. Hence, I made tes ng model of the void deck seem like a “lightbox”. 44 | Temporal “Slices”

I wanted to experiment to see how transparency sheet can control the ligh ng to poe se the void deck into a spa al experience to engage communi es of everyday life.

| 45

The whole tes ng of the model was directed intui vely by how I determined the variables of the ar ficial ligh ng and treatment I did to the transparency sheet.

Light Source Posi on B Light Source Posi on C

Light Source Posi on A

Light Source Posi on D

Curved Transpency Sheet (treated with heat)

46 | Temporal “Slices”

Caus cs Ray Posi on A

Test 1

Caus cs Ray Posi on B

Caus cs Ray Posi on C

Caus cs Ray Posi on D

I was tes ng out how the change in ligh ng source posi on and the transparency sheets as a form of curtain can change the atmosphere of the void deck at night, to allow users to enjoy a different experience in the void deck. | 47

Model S = 1:50

48 | Temporal “Slices”

GIF - Test 1 Model

| 49

Light Source Posi on B

Light Source Posi on A

Light Source Posi on C Shredded Transpency Sheet

50 | Temporal “Slices”

Caus cs Ray Posi on A

Test 2

Caus cs Ray Posi on B

Caus cs Ray Posi on C

The shredding of the transparency sheet creates more bounces when the light comes into play with the sheets. However, it resulted in a so er and subtle atmospheric environment, as compared to the previous test, where it creates ripples, like water flow. | 51

Model S = 1:50

52 | Temporal “Slices”

GIF - Test 2 Model

| 53

I wanted to express this experimenta on as a form of installa on where communi es can come into contact with the curtain. This form of interac on will have an added layer of variables of how the light is being portrayed. This manifesta on uncovers the narra ves of our cultural and communal heritage in the void deck in an abstract fashion.

54| Temporal “Slices”

I feel that public installa ons act as a tool to ques on the designer’s power over design. When people are being able to interact with the installa on, the designer is no longer able to control the outcome. This temporary installa on 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. | 55

Implied “Fold”

Implied folds that become a support, for communi es ac vi es and growth, celebra ng the nostalgia and feeling of sharing, a public space together.

| 59

60 | Implied “Folds”

Model S = 1:100 | 61

Photographs from book : Streets of old Chinatown : Singapore / text by Sumiko Tan ; photographs by Michael Liew.

Singapore’s old street and especially the alleys play a major social role in our city when it comes to showcasing communal ac vi es and life. We used to live above these streets together and sharing them. I feel that this essence of the street life and the hawker culture are an important part of Singapore communal and cultural heritage which has been lost.

62 | Implied “Folds”

The streets life have informal structures that act as a support for this communal life, crea ng implied spaces in between the interiors and exteriors, blurring the boundary of the inide and outside.

| 63

Photographs from book : The Great Good Place, 1989 by Ray Oldernburg’s on French cafes

The understanding and framing of how I understand the essence of the old streets of Singapore largely came from a parallel in the western context of Ray Oldenburg’s defini on of “third spaces” in french cafes.

64 | Implied “Folds”

Sketch on the interpreta on of understanding cafes as a “third spaces”.

Oldenburg men oned in his book: The Great Good Place, 1989 that cafes are ideal places that exhibit third spaces due to the se ngs of indoor and outdoor sea ngs (alfresco) to the street, which blurs the interiors and exteriors as well, but are cafes in Singapore exhibitor of “third spaces” as well? | 65

Cafe visit to Kizuna: a cafe under a HDB block

I visited Singapore’s cafes to see if the cafes do exhibit “third spaces” or even the essence of the nostalgic street life in a contemporary way.

66 | Implied “Folds”

Cafe visit to Apartment: a cafe under a business district area

However, I feel that Singapore’s version of cafes was rather exclusive with the audience they serve, where cafes goer are for those that can afford it, not truly compared to French se ngs or the general se ngs.

| 67

Photographs of Baazar Lambak Raya, 2019, courtesy of Mediacorp

I found that the tradi onal Pasar Malam exhibited a similar context to the old street life in Singapore. The essences of the hawker culture imparted into the Pasar Malam because it relied on external vendors. Singaporeans will inhabit the Pasar Malam in large crowds due to the cura on of affordable food and household everyday products. The Pasar Malam usually take places bi-monthly or fes ve occasion near our public housing districts. 68 | Implied “Folds”

Photographs of Spa al Layout for Rental of Stalls, Baazar Lambak Raya, 2019, courtesy of the Baazar Lambak Raya organisa on of Singapore.

I try to imagine if I could bring the context of a Pasar Malam of providing stalls to support the vendors could be manifested as a community space in the void deck, to support speculated programming?

| 69

Personal Sketch of how I envision a manifesta on of pasar malam into a community space in the void deck.

I wanted to have a single interior gesture that could remind Singaporeans about narra ves of street life in old Singapore and providing support for external vendors to take over. 70 | Implied “Folds”

I wanted the void deck to exhibit the essence of the Pasar Malam that is very similar to the hawker culture in Singapore in that the implied spaces break the interiors and exteriors boundary. | 71

I love the novelty of having a wall as a gesture of design that can break the interiors and exteriors, blurring the boundaries. I imagine this gesture as like “folds” that comes our of a wall. I feel that this form of gesture could be explored in the Singapore context of the void deck, to manifest a similar gesture to support vendors. 72 | Implied “Folds”

Steven Holl’s Storefront for Art & Architecture, from Archdaily

| 73

74 | Implied “Folds”

Model Model SS == 1:100 1:100

The design concept was to use a datum or plane to create “folds” that inform the narra ves of these “folds” as a support for communi es and external vendor to take over.

I tried to imagine these “folds” as a figure and ground to see poten al nega ve spaces that vendors could be placed at to form the implied space.

Implied space can be use as a medium for ac vites to grow and addi onal structure to be added as required by individual or communi es.

| 75

The first model explora on envisioned how “folds” can be folded out from the wall into a floor plane, which becomes a lingering gesture for people to inhabit.

76 | Implied “Folds”

Model S = 1:100 | 77

78 | Implied “Folds”

I explored the second model with considera ons with specifica ons and dimensions of the Pasar Malam stalls. It is to envision how a programme, poten ally a marketplace can take over the void deck with this gesture. | 79

80 | Implied “Folds”

Model S = 1:100 | 81

I started to imagine how the “folds” from the gesture can be a ached to the exis ng column of the void deck. A study model was made to align the gesture to the column of the void deck, and start conceptualising how can the “folds” be on the column.

82 | Implied “Folds”

Model S = 1:100

| 83

First explora on model showing how people can linger with the “folds”

84 | Implied “Folds”

The “folds” become a mixture of planes and frames that get a ached to the column.

Second explora on model with considera ons of how vendors can take over the “folds”

| 85

86 | Implied “Folds”

The gesture of these ‘‘folds” added onto the column of the void deck creates an informal walking path in between the spaces. It breaks the interior and exterior, crea ng the “street-like” circula on as a gesture in the space.

| 87

I was trying to envision a speculated temporal playscape that could take over the “folds” to allow kids from the neighbouring schools to come and inhabit the space.

88 | Implied “Folds”

Model S = 1:25

| 89

Kids Playscape

I was trying to speculate how different programming could be vendors that take over these “folds”, much like a Pasar Malam. Overall, I feel that the interven on of a community space should be open-ended, much so less defini ve of its func ons, even though some considera ons and parameters must be considered. 90 | Implied “Folds”

Pasar Malam

Pasar Malam

Model S = 1:25

Exhibit/ Gallery Space

However, I feel that how people inhabit space and host programming are like water, people can mould the programming they desire and engage fellow like-minded to gather together as communi es.

| 91

Canvassing “Fills”

Model S = 1:100 94 | Canvassing “Fills”

| 95

Mar n Silva’s makeshi pa o was one of the ground-up ini a ves from a resident living there and got approval from the authority to build his own community space. I realised that his simple inten ons of wan ng a shared space and residents of his block can gather together, or even linger around the pa o he made. The only interven on he did was to build a slight shi of plane, a yellow flooring and placed street furniture. The simple feature was the only thing he did and it made me realise how simple and open-ended a community space could be.

96 | Canvassing “Fills”

Photographs taken by author, Mar n Silva’s Makeshi Pa o

| 97

This whole conversa on got me to relook at the previous two phases that I have so far and wanted to conceptualised the thoughts I have into something I feel strongly spaces as a conclusion to how we can look at crea ng simple and meaningful community space.

98 | Canvassing “Fills”

A community space is like a canvas, People are like a series of different colours, Together, they complete a picture that speaks an endless spai alisa on of possibility.

| 99

The par cular precedent got to look at how lingering boundaries can be a subtle change in levels in an organic way. The organic gesture allows the space to seems like it always in flux even though it empty and it so design interven on is simple. The subtle indenta on from the interven on was something I ques on if it is possible to define our void deck space as well. 100 | Canvassing “Fills”

Rolex Learning Center by SANAA

| 101

I tried to kickstart the process by construc ng the whole floor plan of the void deck with concrete plaster, allowing the se ng of the concrete to cure intui vely. 102 | Canvassing “Fills”

The indenta on that happens then was conceptualised into lingering spaces that communi es could inhabit. | 103

To conclude the whole project, I feel that the true designer of community space is the people themselves. When facing an empty void deck, a designer might be too quick to implement the most func onal programming in the space. However, I feel that the void deck that embrace that form of emp ness as a community space has more than meets the eyes. I wish that by uncovering some narra ves behind our heritage, we are able to know that some mes the simplest design is not to add but to retain, and the void deck as a site, a community space in Singapore is as such.

| 105

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.