BLURRING BOUNDARIES LIVING
Lim Yu Jun Manfred 1901008
This project aims to take a closer look at how we percieve DEATH through URBAN MYTHS, and speculates how urban myths manifest as SPATIAL EXPERIENCES.
Folklore changes and adapts to society. In this modern age, where everything is doubted unless prove is evident, folklore manifest within communities as urban myths. Capitalising on modern media, these myths often contain supernatural elements, yet grounded by certain truths, masking it in half-believe, half-doubt. As folklore changes form, so does its role. Urban myths reflect the modern society mindset and its many concern and fears. We shape them through our concerns and fears (birth, life, death), giving form to this chaotic and uncontrollable world. By making our fears tangible, it gives one a semblance of control, a means of escape. Many of these myths revolve around the interaction between the living and dead, reflecting our society view on death and the way we deal with it. If urban myths are made physical, how will it affect the way we live? How will we build our spaces around them I will be exploring this project within the site of Bishan MRT station, splitting into 3 different investigation In Part 1, I will be researching the various local urban myths, and how will the ways we percieve them influence spatial elements. While in Part 2, I will be looking into how rules, both physical and spiritual, will reshape the way we transit. Finally, in Part 3, I will investigate how the various design elements will tie into the functionality of the site as an MRT station.
Bishan MRT station is one of the many train stations around Singapore, a functional infrastructure, yet it had somehow become a connection to the dead. It too becomes a reminder of its past as Peck San Theng, formerly one of Singapore’s largest cemetery, a community of the living and dead. The many urban myths within the site, once again connects the dead to the living, the MRT station as a medium. Yet these connections are different, more often horrific encounters, the dead have become something to be feared and avoided, rather than accepted and respected.
“Everywhere you go, there is ghost” , Kampong Park San Theng was full of superstitions and tales of the supernatural. The residents regarded such phenomenon as normal, and part of their daily lives. Their lives interacted closely with the dead, and they accepted and respected these “ghost” into their lives, even for the kids, it was normal for them to play among the burial grounds. It was believed that “If the dead were well taken care of, it not only means peace to the departed, it could bring benefits to one’s descendants”, further emphasis on the relationship between the living and the dead.
PART 1 Boundaries Third Space
I started exploring the different mediums through which the physical and spiritual interact. With a focus on the physical aspect, I looked into how the elements I introuduce will allow the commuters to percieve and interact with the spiritual.
Site Contextualisation Concept Exploration
PART 2 Rules
Looking into the different spectrum of rules, from the rules and regulations within the station, to the spiritual rules and beliefs of the graveyard the MRT station was built upon. I investigated how these rules and beliefs will fit into our existing system, allow the spiritual to manifest and change the way we transit.
Nature Condition Lighting
Model Exploration Concept Exploration
PART 3 Journey Design
By exploring with context to the site constraint and functionality, I further tie in both spiritual and physical within the jorney of commuting through the MRT station. Further explore death in our everyday life and how urban myths allow us to better percieve it.
I will be exploring both Part 1 and Part 2 side by side, delving deeper in both the physical and spirtual perspective of the ‘Third Space’. Finally piecing together my explorations and findings within Part 3, exploring how urban myth act as a medium, through which we percieve and try to better understand death in the past, present and the possible future.
PART 1 Manifesting spiritual space The “spiritual space’ is ambiguious in nature, a space that we imagine, both as an individual and collective. I aim to delve deeper and look into the different ways we percieve the spiritual and how these perspective can be manifested in physical space.
Our relationship and perception of ‘Death’ is everchanging. As we further distance ourselves from it, the lesser we know of it. The interactions between both aspect takes on a more ambiguous and fearful nature. This change is reflected in the many tales and rituals passed down to us.
BOUNDARIES I envisioned both the physical and spiritual space as two distinct spaces. Physical space is something that we are familial with and have interacted. However, what interested me was the latter. What form would spiritual space take on? Everyone has differing opinions on it, whether shapaing from an individual or collective perspective. By trying to define this ‘spiritual space’ and giving it form, I have presented a means of interaction between the physical and spiritual. How would the dynamics of our spaces change as such? My first impression of physical space is a solid tangible form that we are familiar with, while spiritual space as a formless, adaptable plane, which I then am able to freely configure to explore different scenarios.
If I were to break open our physical space; will the spiritual fill in these gaps? A boundary through which both aspect can interact and coexist?
Or will the immaterial forcefully take over our phyiscal space? Creating conflict between both spectrum.
In a visual study done by Terence Heng, titled “ Hungry Ghost in Urban Spaces: A Visual Study of Aesthetic Markers and Material Anchoring”. He discusses how various physical markers embodies the spiritual, and how these markers obscurs the line betweent the physical and spiritual. He further breaks down the different planes, terming the physical as “First Space”, while the imaginary as “Second Space”, and how varous aspect from both spaces come together as “Third Space”. Following that train of thought, I started to explore based on the local urban myths, what form will the “Third Space” manifest itself in a physical form, and how different elements will shape this space. How would both the living and the dead in turn react to this space.
I looked into the various urban myths tied to the site, and how various accounts details different forms of encounters. These encounters gradually escalates, introudcing more factors in the interaction between the physical and spiritual. How the various aspect of these encounters forms the markers of the “Third Space”, shaping and demarcating it. By breaking down these encounters, I further explore the different sensorial interaction that are occuring.
The ‘third space’ is the combination of both the physical and imaginary, “a fully lived space, a simultaneously real-and-imagined, actual-and-virtual locus of structured individuality and collective experience and agency”
How would this notion manifest in real space? When the immaterial manifest, would the boundaries between both aspect be blurred or further defined. I started exploring how possible interactions and perceptions shape the boundaries between.
Soja, Edward. (1998). ThirdSpace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places. Capital & Class. 22. 10.1177/030981689806400112.
I explored what factors would shape the “Third Space” within the site. How would our reactions and beliefs start to escalate and take on a more physical form in our spaces as a reaction? How would the site context play a role in the manifestation of the spiritual? How would its past ties with the dead and the many urban myths tied to the site start to further bring the spiritual into the physical? How would the various markers demarcating the “Third Space” manifest, does it have to be physical in nature? Or can it be something much more sensorial or atmospheric in nature?
I looked into 3 different elements that would help in defining the boundaries. Through individual reaction, I experimented how the space could help avoid these spirits. Elements of rituals, through which we interact with the spiritual further helps paints a clearer picture of the various interactions. Finally, I explored how these interactions would fit within the site context as an MRT station.
Based on the common belief of “If you dont bother them, they in turn won’t bother you”. By masking the presence of the various supernatural entities, the commuters remain ignorant, or are at least under the guise of. By reducing both physical and spiritual entities into sihouettes, the nature of the “Third Space” takes the form of a parallel commute. Both aspects travel alongside, each with their own objective, remaining unaware of each other. I further explored how materiality and layering come together to mask the different aspect of such entities, creating different spatial atmosphere within.
When everything above the shoulder is veiled, everyone is “headless”
I explored the different entities that people encountered within the MRT station and explored how I could veil various aspects of these entities. One particular urban myth that stood was the encounter with a headless commuter. The prominent feature was the entity being headless. So if I hide everyone’s head, no one will be able to differentiate the spiritual from the physical.
Mak Mun San, “Is Bishan MRT ‘Unclean’?”, The Straits Times, April 17, 2005, p4
When everyone is reduced to sihouettes, everyone is “faceless”
I explored another urban myth, in which commuters encountered a group of faceless people at the station. Likewise, by disguising everyone’s features, no one is aware of such entities. Through veils, the atmosphere the space is made ambiguious. The entities are unacknowledged, yet every sihoulette is reminiscent of them,
I explored different forms of veils and conceptualised various perspectives of how they look.
The different types of shadows and sihouettes that are created, and the different atmosphere they bring about
I further explore how these veils would alter the way we transist or even our mindset. Commuters are constantly rushing from one destination to other. However if they are made to detour or made aware of spiritual elements within the same space, would their pace slow down?
The arrangement of the veils affects the way we transverse through the space, changing the way we experience the space. They form a soft boundary, zoning out different section of the space. I experimented how different ways of spreading out and staggering the veils can bring out different spatial qualities, whether it take on a more serene or sinister nature.
Conceptual sketch of projection of shadow casted through the staggering of veils. Is the sihoulette one see of a person, a projection of one’s shadow or something else entirely?
I explored how people interact with the spiritual in Cantonese beliefs and practices. In many of such rituals, the incense stick hold great importance, its lighting signifies the start, while extinguishing it brings an end to the ritual. The smoke from the incese stick accts as an medium of communication between the physical and spirtual. It is through the amiguity of the smoke, that indivuals interpret various words and numbers, supposed message from the beyond. The nature of such commune is not set in stone, ranging from appeasing of spirits, to forms of transaction between both. Following that train of thought, I further explored the use of light and shadows, abstracted from the element of light and smoke from rituals, and how they would further shape and demarcate the ‘Third Space’.
Due to the safety constraint within the site, I was unable to integrate smoke within the design. However using light and shadows, I experimented with lights and shadows to create an ambguious and mysterious atmosphere within the spaces. I explored how I can make use of “Tyndall Effect”, using lights and shadow to demarcate the boundaries within. It is a phenomenon in which, “beam of lights are scattered by a medium containing small suspended particles”.
Conceptual exploration of recreation of the ‘Tyndall Effect’ within the MRT Station, how would it then affect our journey within the station?
https://www.britannica.com/science/Tyndall-effect [ Last accessed: May 5, 2021]
‘Tyndall Effect’ refer to visable ray of lights, it requires very specific conditions before it can manifest. Some prerequisitesare that it is neccessary that the visual field has high brightness contrast and light has to be scattered by microscopic particles like dust. Instead of dust, I exeperimented using fabric or veils to recreate this effect.
I explored how in conjuction with veils, I can recreate and make use of the “Tyndall Effect’ to zone and create that mysterious atmosphere within passageways.
https://transsolar.com/news/lighting-design-awards-2017[ Last accessed: May 5, 2021]
Exploration how I can manipulate the light source and veils to zone spaces within using lights and shadow.
CASE STUDY MOMENT FACTORY I looked for inspirations within the works of ‘Moment Factory’ to further experiment with transformable spatial qualities. They are a studio specialised in creating unique spatial experience within different site context. Using lighting and various interactive elements, they shape the atmosphere, through which, they aim to inspire a sense of collective wonder and connection. By playing with different sensorial qualities, reshaping the perceived space, allowing its atmosphere to spin a tale of its own. Using interactive elements, they allow the audience to interact with the space, giving them the opportunity to shape the atmosphere as well.
Moment Factory, ‘Alta Lumina, An Enchanted Night Walk Beyond the Mountains’, https://momentfactory.com/work/all/ all/night-walk-alta-lumina, [Accessed: May 2, 2021]
The MRT station is an infrastructure that facilitates transport, with commuters rushing from one destination to another. I explored how the pace and mindset of the commuters contributes to the perception and manifestation of the “Third Space”. Durng the peak hours, the commuters are rushing to their destination, there is no room, neither physically nor mentally, for the spiritual to manifest. However, once the peak period is over, one’s pace naturally slows down. This creates room for one to contemplate, and space for the spiritual to manifest. I began exploring the temporal and transformable qualities pf the “Third Space” within the site. Instead of it being a set space, how it can exert itself across various zones of physical space, and how the pacing within the MRT stretches and shrinks it.
Exploration of how veils and shadows can create variations within spaces, creating variation within the spaces. These variations will then change according to the human traffic. As the various element transform within the space, they form temporary markers demarcating an everchanging “Third Space”.
By examining the ways we percieve and interact with urban myths, as an individual or collective, I was able to define various boundaries and spaces in which the ‘Third Space’ makes itself apparent. In Part 2, I will look within these spaces, exploring the heirachy within and the different purpose and meaning the immaterial will bring into our physical spaces.
PART 2 Functionality and rules By manifesting the immaterial within physical space, how would the rules and belief of the spiritual world impose itself within our existing set of rules and regulation within the site.
In the poster I explore how through the ‘third space’, the present meets the past. I speculate how these differing elements facilitate interactions between the different entities. The way we transverse through the MRT station will change as the differing rules imposes itself within the ‘Third Space’.
Rules are an integral factor in our lives, keeping everything in check. That is made all the more apparent in an MRT station, where rules are plastered throughout the station, constantly reminding us to mind our behaviour and actions. However within the ‘Third Space”, how would various spiritual rules and beliefs impose itself within the site and upon the existing rules. How would it change the way we transverse through the site. In our current modern setting, how would these rules be made apparent in our spaces?
I looked back into the site past, where it was a community of both the living and dead. The many rules and local beliefs governs the relationship between both aspect. One particular set of rules that caught my attention was how Feng Shui was applied to these interactions. Feng Shui within the site context as a cemetary emphasized on the continual interactions between the living and afterlife. It implies that there are ‘proper’ rules to adhere to in regards to how we treat the deceased. In which, the way we treat the dead, determines the impact the dead will have on us. It is through these set of rules that the dead is given power to affect the living, whether positive or negative.
I started exploring how elements and rules of Feng Shui would then influence and change the interior of the MRT station. I picked out the integral elements within these set of rules, which revolves around the condition and the placement of the graves, elements of nature and present lighting. All these elements dictates or informs us of the energy of the grave, which in turns impact the living whether, positve or negative. All these different rules act as a marker, through which the descendants show how filial and respectful they are to their ancestors. These rules and rituals act as an quantifiable method of measuring ones values, and according to these rules, they are proportionally rewarded for their efforts. It is stated that the grave plots must be at least 1 meter square. With that rule, I created 1 meter square cubes of varying materias, and broke down the spaces according to them.
CASE STUDY HAUNTED PLAYHOUSE Haunted Playhouse was an exhibition by Torafu Architecture. It was an unusual one, allowing various behaviours normally forbidden in museums, such as “no running”. By doing so it allows one to immerse fully in its eerie yet playful spaces. Using that ideology, I will further examine the relationship between the physical and spiritual rules . When the spiritual is made tangible, certain rules will be made physical. How as the boundary between the physical and spiritual blurs, the superstitious becomes pragmatic, and how this changes the way we experience and percieve spaces?
http://torafu.com/works/hauntedhouse [ Last accessed: May 2, 2021]
CASE STUDY KWONG WAI SIEW PECK SAN THENG COLUMBARIUM Designed by Tay Kheng Soon, it was one of the first columbarium built in Singapore. It was remarked that from the exterior it looked like a modern condominium, however many design elements were reminiscent of Cantonese death rituals and beliefs. Its form reflected the hemi-hexagonal shape of the tomb. While how the floors cascaded upwards reflected how the numerous tombs were buried along the many hills, paying homage to its namesake, Peck San Theng. The columbarium also acts as a commentary on how our many rituals and beliefs have changed along with our living conditions and environment, adapting to our cultural shift as cremation took over burial as our main practice.
https://remembersingapore.org/2018/12/23/peck-san-theng-bishan-heritage-gallery/ [Accessed: May 2, 2021]
The placement and arrangement of the grave plays an important role. The energy of the location influences the energy of the grave, which in turn impact the living. It was believed that burying the dead on the highground would have a beneficial effect on the descendants. Influenced by the design of Peck San Theng Columbarium, I explored varous ways I could cascade the modules .
Conceptual sketch for different configurations. The different layers of space create varying pockets of interaction between the physical and spiritual.
The graves are surrounded by nature. The condition of vegetation affects the energy within the area, if the plants are thriving, that means the area is full of positive energy, an extension of its environment. However, the type of vegetation matters, where it was ideal that large trees were at least 5 meters from the graveplot. I abstracted nature within wooden modules, and experimented with how modules of different materials would interact and pair together.
I began exploring differing scale of modules representing nature, exploring different forms of vegetations. Even how these wooden elements could form grids to segments spaces .
The condition of the graves symbolised the from of impact it had on the living. It was to make sure that the living took proper care of the dead, tying back to moral values such as respect and filial piety. I then played around with the percieved condition of the modules. Where those in pristine condition would be beneficial or supplement the happenings with the MRT station such as resting spaces, or informational signs. While those of diapilated conditions would instead be of obstructive nature. They give off a sinister vibe. zoning and demarcating various spaces within the station.
I create ceramic models of each modules of varying scale, and tried breaking them at different points to explore the possible design and even ways they would funnel light through.
Lighting sets the atmosphere of the space, whether it be of a serene or sinister one. The amount of light present, especially natural lighting, bestow the grave with positive energy. This also ties back to my Part 1, allowing me to further explore various lighting condtions and they demarcated the different zones within the station.
Model exploration of modules and different lighting qualities. I filled each modules with different translucent materials and played with how the light would refract within and spill out.
Model exploration of how the pieces could be used to divert and change the flow of traffic within spaces, acting either as obstructions or resting spaces.
Conceptual sketch of how the various modules will interact with commuters, whether obstructive or beneficial.
DEMARCATIONS As I manifest the ‘Third Space’, how would commuters percieve and react to these spaces. Would they continue their commute through without a care, or will they avoid these spaces. What purposes would they then serve?
“DONT LOOK BEHIND YOU” As the physical and spiritual comes together within the ‘Third Space’ I speculated how certain spiritual rules and beliefs will be implemented into our exisiting rules and reguation. Would these rules seek to protect us from the spirtual, or would it further incite our curiosity, instead making the immaterial more apparent. In this scenario, If you comes across a sign stating “not to look behind you”, how would you then react?
The familiar sihoulette brings one a sense of familarity. However its ambiguity is unsettleling, keep one on edge. Can one really be sure it is of a human?
Conceptual sketch of a commuter experince as he is transversing through the station. When surrounded by so many sihoulette, do one slow down to access their surroundings or rush throguh?
FUNCTIONALITY We often like to categories and seek purposes in the tings around us,. We have viewed the afterlife as an opportunity to further seek blessings from the immaterial. As the ‘Third Space’ is made physical, how would the different elements then be ‘useful’ within the context of MRT station, whether as resting spaces or supplementing the many information posters within the station.
UNPREDICTABILITY Ultimately, one tends to forget that we do not control the spirtual, instead seek to apease them and are subjected to their whims. Within the context of the station, do certain zones within then become unhabitable at random points of times, forcing us to find new path of transversing through.
The various spiritual rules translated into spatial experience within the ‘Third Space’, creating a conversation between the physical and spiritual. Althought, through experimentation, I was unable to associate specific functionality to the different elements, thus not able to connect both aspect through this particular notion. I was able to further explore the narrative within the myths and rituals associated to the site, of how the way we understand death has changed to adapt to our living conditions, taking on new forms and methods. I will be further exploring this notion, exploring this narrative within our commute through the MRT station. Further examining the different ways death is present in our everyday lives, in our past and present, and how this perpective is magnified through urban myths.
PART 3 Tranversing through the ‘Third Space’ Taking my culmulative exploration and elements from Part 1 and 2, I expand on them, further tying it within the context of Bishan MRT, recreating the commuter experience as they transverse through the “Third Space’ withn. Throgh this project, I create a narrative, exploring how urban myth act as a medium, through which we percieve death in the past, present and the possible future.
JOURNEY Urban Myths act as lens, shaping the surrounding ‘Third Space’ , through which we attempt to percieve and understand death on our own terms. We spin these tales through collective encounters and gossips, as such they are constantly changing and adapting to the local community.
PAST Peck San Theng was a community of the living and dead, where one’s life is closely tied to the spiritual.
Within the context of Bishan MRT, urban myths tie the site to its past as Peck San Theng, formerly one of Singapore’s largest Cantonese Cemetery. The dynamics between the living and the death were more intertwined as a community of the living and dead. The various tales and rituals of the past detailed the reliance both aspect had for each other. In present context, urban myths act as a narrative of our past. As our living conditions have changed, the way we understand death has changed. The spatial dynamics between the living and death has changed, as we set aside and segregate space for the dead. We view the dead as a quantitative element. Whether it is a negative element which lowers nearby property values or an important cultural assest to be preserved. By taking a closer look at the urban myths within the site, I re-evaluate how we understand death within our modern community. Through these tales, how do we interact with death in our daily commute, and how does it affect our lives.
PRESENT However that notion can no longer be observed. As we segregate the dead within their own infrastructure, we distance ourselves from them, focusing on the physical.
Our living conditions are constantly changing and evolving. How would the Singapore deathscape once again change in the future. The different rituals and beliefs surrounding death will change to fit the new livestyle, how would the nature of urban myths once again adapt to our everchanging view of death.
https://chinesefuneralpractices.sg/2021/03/31/ritualandremembrance/, Chinese Funeral Practices in Singapore, Death and Dying in Everyday Singapore, Terence Heng [Accessed: May 1, 2021]
Rituals and beliefs are closely tied to ones religious practices, urban myths on the other hand, reflects its surrounding community perception of death.
CASE STUDY ART IN TRANSIT. SINGAPORE MRT STATION I explored the many art installations scattered throughout the many MRT stations, seeking inspiration from the many art pieces and installation. MRT stations are spaces for transit, where one is constantly rushing from one destination to another. However, the many pieces, through different forms of engaments are able to leave their marks on commuters in that fleeting moment. I delved deeper into the different ways they engage us, whether through bright and impactful imagery or unique textures and pieces.
Serangoon MRT Station Dreams in Social Cosmic Odyssey
Hougang MRT Station Hands Up for Hougang
Buona Vista MRT Station The Tree of Life
https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltagov/en/getting_around/public_transport/a_better_public_transport_experience/art_in_transit.html [ Last Accessed: April 28, 2021]
ENTRANCE Peck San Theng is hokkien for “Pavilions along the Jade HIll”, and true to its namesake, the dead and its landmark pavilions were spread across the numerous hills. We often percieve burial as laying the dead to rest deep underground. However, within the context of Bishan and its past, the dead were buried on the high ground, cascading upwards, while the MRT station brings us deep underground, creating an interesting discourse between both aspects. This concided with past beliefs, in which it was believed that if the dead were buried on high ground, their fortune would roll down to their descendants. This belief quantified filal piety, in which the higher the dead were buried, the more they would be buried. Drawing back to modern Bishan, although the graves were exhumed, we commute under the burial site, the dead literally looking over us. As we commute through the station, we are brought deeper into what we percieve as the territory of the dead.
VEIL ‘Kim Zua’, also known ass joss paper are used as offerings to appease and seek blessing from spirits. It act as a means of communication and transaction between the living and dead. They are mostly from coarse bamboo paper. The veil not just act as a boundary between both aspect, but also as a means of interaction. I experimented with various thinkness, playing with its translucency wll maintaining it coarseness, will creaates a unique atmosphere as light is diffused through it.
CASE STUDY COCOON-INSPIRED PAVILION. A21 STUDIO This cocoon-inspired pavilion was built in Vietnam, using 800 bamboo sticks and 1200 sheets of poonah paper. It was built using traditional vietnamese method of paper mache. It is interesting how in different lighting conditions, the paper becomes opaque or translucent. At times connecting the interior to the exterior, or creating a shell segregating the outside from the interior.
https://www.archdaily.com/790931/a21studio-uses-bamboo-and-poonah-paper-to-build-cocoon-inspired-pavilion-in-vietnam [ Last Accessed: May 5, 22021]
EXPLORATION Using concrete to define the postions and locations of our predecessors, shaping the our perception of the spiritual space within the station. While playing around with dfferent forms of weaving veils to define the boundary between the living and dead.
The formation and the different way the veil weave between the concrete crate different effects, able to define or blur boundaaries, leaving it in ambuigity.
CONCEPTUAL SKETCH Through the modules and elements I explored in Part 2, I experimented how can I make make apparent the spiritual plane above us. Drawing ones’ attention above as they pass by underneath.
RITUAL Drawing inspiration from Part 1, I further explore rituals and how they connect the living and the dead. Rituals are present in our everyday lives, repeated actions form patterns and habits in our lives. Just as lighting the joss stick signifies the start of the ritual, the act of tapping our card and passing the gantry signifies the beginning of one’s ritual within the MRT station.
EXPLORATION I began exploring how light and materiality can further emphasize on the rituals within the station, and how it connects the dead to the living. Making commuters aware of the journey they are untaking and further blurring the boundary between physical and spiritual space as they continue down into the station.
LIGHT As I mentioned in Part 1, light plays an important role in rituals, signifying the start of one. By projecting light at the entrance, making use of the ‘Tyndall Effect’, signifying the start of a ritual, for both the physical and spiritual. I then played around with the modules and veil will refract the light, shaping the slightly eerie yet quiet atmosphere within.
Conceptualisation of how light will demarcate the space, the starting point of the ‘ritual’ before stepping into the station
The entrance draws attention to our past, through urban myths, the change in our relationship with the dead is made apparent. We often percieve the spirtual space, as one that is reminsce of the past. In this case drawing comparison between Peck San Theng and present Bishan MRT Station, and the difference in the way we percieve death as we slowly distance ourselves from it.
PASSAGEWAY As commuters transit past the gantry and into the passageways, the boundaries between the living and dead are further blurred within the ‘Third Space’. Drawing back to rituals, we interact with the spiritual through smoke. We attempt to interpret supposed cryptic messages within the smoke, communing through the ambiguous. Integrating Part 1 of my project, I took a deeper look into how the local urban shapes the percieved deathscape within the station. As we disguise both the physical and spiritual in an attempt to ignore the spiritual, we are in turn validating their supposed existence through the notion of ‘half-belief/ half-doubt’
MATERIAL SPECTRUM using my finding from Part 2, I listed a spectrum of materials to use within the third space, as it transists between physical and spiritual space.
CONCRETE WOOD TRANSLUCENT CONCRETE BAMBOO PAPER FABRIC
As the heirachy of space changes from physical to spiritual, the familiar material such as concrete and wood are replaced with translucent materials which displaces light within the space, blurring our perspective within the ‘Third Space’.
CASE STUDY AL AZIZ MOSQUE Its unique concrete facade was designed by APG Architecture and Planning Group. It features protruding elements of Arabic script. The unique design about this concrete facade is that the wordings light up at night, through the use of translucent concrete. It presents a unique material, which posseses the solidity of normal concrete, yet is able to subtlely mask it surroundings with its translucent properties
TRANSLUCENT CONCRETE Its unique concrete facade was designed by APG Architecture and Planning Group. It features protruding elements of Arabic script. The unique design about this concrete facade is that the wordings light up at night, through the use of translucent concrete. It presents a unique material, which posseses the solidity of normal concrete, yet is able to subtlely mask it surroundings with its translucent properties
By weaving through optic fibre and playing with different thickness, the concrete is able to become translucent
https://www.archdaily.com/775354/a-translucent-concrete-animates-the-facade-of-this-abu-dhabi-mosque [ Last Accessed: April 28, 2021] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148120303633 [ Last Accessed: April 28, 2021]
WALL The various materials and light source layer upon each other, distorting the reflections and silhouette of commuters passing through. As theyy walk through the passageway, their shadows and silhouettes are constanly changing.
MIRROR LIGHTING CONCRETE
REFLECTION By distorting and obstructng one reflection, the familiarity of one’s feature is taken away. Within the context of Bishan MRT Station, the spiritual entities either dont have any facial features or even a head. By distorting that feature from everyone that passes through, the physical and spiritual are blurred together, creating a unique experience walking down the passageway.
CASE STUDY Paläon Research and Experience Center The facade of the centre was designed by Holzer Kobler Architekturen, acting as a giant mirror that reflects its surroundings, mirroring and integrating itself within the surrounding landscape. It creates a unique experience, blending in with its surroundings, yet drawing attention to its through that slight difference within the landscape.
Exhibition piece from the Haunted Playhouse by Torafu Architecture
SILHOUETTE Drawing from the exploration in Part 1, I further apply the concept of veils and the how the shadow projected create different narratives, blurring the boundary between the physical and spiritual.
In the present, urban myths are one of our last connections to the dead, often taking on a more sinister tone. In current society, we have tried to remove death from our lives. In his webinar, Terence Heng talked about death denial or avoidance within our society, with social media desentizing it. Many rituals and duties towards our ancestor have also been ‘outsourced’. Overtime, these rituals and beliefs have lose their impact and power. However, urban myths remains, ‘scaring’ us into belief. This passageway remains as a reminder that death is present in our everyday life, as we transist through the ‘Third Space’ along with the spiritual.
https://chinesefuneralpractices.sg/2021/03/31/ritualandremembrance/, Chinese Funeral Practices in Singapore, Death and Dying in Everyday Singapore, Terence Heng [Accessed: May 1, 2021]
PLATFORM It is within the platform that most of the urban myth takes place, it is within this ‘Third Space” where the boundary is further blurred, and the physical and spiritual interact more closely. It is the quiest yet busiest space within the station. It is the only space within the station where commuters stop and catch themselves while waiting for the next train. Yet, when the train arrives, the pace once again picks up as everyone rushes off to their next destination. Taking the ideas I explore in Part 1, I expanded on the concpet where the ‘Third Space’ within the station is a transformable space, constantly ebbing and flowing along with the pace within the station.
Within the platform, where there is constant struggle in spatial dynamic between the physical and spirtual. How would physical space maintain its boundary? What kind of qualities would spiritual space impose within the ‘Third Space’?
CONCEPTUAL SKETCH Using hanging panels to move veils within the site, what kind of atmospheric quality will be invoked as the shadows constantly shift around, creating a silent yet evertransforming space.
CASE STUDY CHURCH REMAINS Designed by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi, he brought back the reamains of a abandoned church remains using wire frames. Rather than just rebuilding the structure, the wire frame give form to what was lost. The see through structure allows it to blend with the surroundings, yet stand out, highlighting its orginis. Inspired by this project, I explore this notion in conjuction with various interactive elements.
https://weburbanist.com/2016/04/04/ghosts-or-architecture-past-14-fossils-of-fallen-buildings/ [Accessed: May 2, 2021]
PAVILION What we usually associate with the dead, we usually tie it to the past. We do not just percieve urban myths as just perception of death, but also past memories and history. Before it was Bishan, it was also known as “Peck San Theng”, a community of the living and the dead. It was known for the many pavilions scattered along the many graves. I began explore abstractions of pavilions with the MRT station, and how in can play into the transformable spaces that the “Third Space” takes up. One unique thing within Bishan was that many infrastructure had a pitched roof, signature within the area. The same shape can be observed within the interior roof of the platform. It resembled the pavilions back in ‘Peck San Theng’, which function as a place for respite and gathering space for rituals. It also acted as a landmark within the vast cemetery. I explore how I could bring back these qualities within the MRT platform.
https://remembersingapore.org/2018/12/23/peck-san-theng-bishan-heritage-gallery/ [ Last Accessed: April 28, 2021]
CONCEPTUAL EXPLORATION How would lighting interact then interact with the wireframe structure as it is moved closer and further from the ceiling lights?
As it moves downwards, it disperse light, lighting up the space, however, as it moves up, it disperse the ceiling light, darkening the space around it, creating distinctly different spaces.
CONCEPTUAL EXPLORATION I continued playing with with the transformable element and veil, to highlight the ebb and flow within the MRT station. Synchronising the movement according to the MRT peak and non-peak timings. When the veils are loosely hanging during non-peak hours, they defuse the ceiling lighting, while during peak hours, the veils are pulled taut. The lighting is refracted within the platform space, lighting up the space and matching the tense atmosphere.
In the dim lighting during the off-peak hours, the ambuigity and silence allows the spiritual space to manifest within the ‘Third Space’, while during the peak hours, the tense atmosphere as commuters are rushing, brushing aside the spiritual.
The MRT platform embodies the constant struggle between the physical and spiritual, the everchanging ‘Third Space’. Contrasting the past and the present, we have ignored the immaterial in search for material. It is through urban myths within the site that brings back that last connection to the dead. It is within these deathscapes where the idea of ‘memento mori’ is brought up. It is an ancient Latin expression that means ‘remember that you are mortal’. However, rather than focusing on the inevitability of death, it focuses on how one live on their lives. Within the context of the station, it makes one question “what am I rushing around for? To my death? or to live more?”
https://www.archdaily.com/957429/sacred-spaces-what-can-cemeteries-teach-us-about-our-history-and-society?ad_source=search&ad_medium=search_result_all [Accessed: April 28, 2021]
CONCLUSION Our living conditions are always changing and so do the deathscape within Singapore. The relationship between the living and dead has always been an interesting one, everchanging to fit in our lives. The spatial dynamics between the living and dead has changed from one reliant on each other to a segregated one as we fit thedead within their own infrastructure. Unlike the past, in which the dead were very much still ‘alive’, we have began to view them as assests, whether cultural assest to be preserved, or a negative element, lowering the property value for nearby assests, fitting it within our quantitative views. However are our deathscapes just confined to these purposely built infrastructures to contain the dead? Urban myths have always exist, taking different forms in different periods, reflecting the current community views and fears. Many of such myths revolves around the interaction between the living and the dead, embodying our percieved view and understanding of death. Rather than being quantified as an assest to be used, these tales often invoke an emotional reaction from us, whether one of fear or curiosity. They act as lens, a reminder of the past and a comparison to the present. Within the context of Bishan MRT Station, these urban myths bring to mind the site’s past as a mass graveyard community and the various rituals and practices tied to it. It is through these myths that the station has become an informal deathscape, one which boundaries are not defined and ambiguous in nature, connecting the living and death within this modern infrastructure. How will the future of deathscapes be like as our way of life continue changing? As we constantly looking for more land to build more infrastructures, will the dead once again ‘move house’, just like how our rituals and beliefs adapted as we transitioned from burial to cremation. What forms would urban myths take on as our perspective and percieved understanding of death once again change?
https://www.archdaily.com/957429/sacred-spaces-what-can-cemeteries-teach-us-about-our-history-and-society?ad_source=search&ad_medium=search_result_all [Accessed: April 28, 2021]