an imagined collective arrival community for sex workers in Bangkok
Bangkok’s infamous sex industry is a physical “path of arrival” for rural-urban migrants that is extensively embeded in the metropolis. The heterotoplic nature of the industry questions and clashes moral, idea of family, femininity and masculinity of society; creating a contradicting network of legal, political, social, ethical and religious issues; within which sex workers are shamed, judged, criminalized, victimized, unfacilitated and full of danger. Working against stereotypes, the law and human nature, the mind has become dominantly important as a place of refuge and mitigation for the sex workers of Bangkok. This thesis seeks to imagine the alignment of the mismatched physical and mental spaces experienced by the sex workers on “urban islands” which I call the Bangkok’s Spring to facilitate their arrival of both the physical and the mind. At large, the sex industry becomes a plug-in space to society with its own value systems and culture that functions independently. Within, the sex workers literally live in translation of their own mental spaces in the stories they tell themselves: she is a sex worker, but she is a good woman. 5 elements make up Bangkok’s Spring: the Baan, Island of Arrival, Island of Chaos, Island of Community and Island of Escape. The Bangkok Spring illustrates the overlap between a revolutionary fantastical world in the minds of sex workers on the land they love the most, full of hope, power and life like the arrival of the spring. However, also like spring that will never touch the land of Bangkok, the pure imaginary world of hope and peace only remains a midsummer nights’ dream.
Work & Love
Distribution of sex workers across Thailand
Locational clusters of sex workersâ€™ active spots across Bangkok
Gender distribution of tourists to Bangkok
The psychological progression of becoming sex workers
In between the imagined community of sex workers and the greater society lies the hometown. It is a forest that houses the families and dependents of the sex workers in rural villages and Thai huts. The hometown forms both a physical and surrealistic boundary between the two communities as a protective buffer that masks judgement and sensitivity of the existence of Bangkok Spring. As one approaches, a picturesque scene of the rural Thai stops further entrance or even peeping. The only hint of the existence of the other community is sensed through the glorious floating clouds that tells the story beyond the villages.
The back and forth mental struggle of sex workers entering the industry is often doubted upon as an easy betrayal of the mind and body. The island of Arrival imposes physical movements on all arrive as a ritualistic and solemn process of decision making to enter the new world.
In Thai, the relationship of customer and sex workers is undefined, from pure sexual service to “falling in love”. The island of Chaos seeks to intermediate the transition by an entrance where 3 levels of order coexist: self, performance and reflection; helping differentiating reality from illusion, work from love.
Throughout being a sex worker, woman seek normality form others in similar situation. The dependency on the “community of association” masks individuality. A extremely communal lifestyle with no privacy exemplifies the desire to be embraced by the new “family”: minimum living necessities on the frame, and huge adaptive communal spaces.
Thais believe that the earthly world is made up of 5 elements. Bangkok Spring has 5 primary roles: the sex workers, customers, tourists, residents and dependents. The relationship between the 5 elements of the earthly world is adopted to correspond paths for the island of Arrival.
The Dharma wheel is a symbol of cosmic order. The symbol of order organises the memory storage underneath the island of Chaos and the exclusive entrance for the sex workers; serving as constant reminder to the woman of their power to retain order amongst chaos.
The endless knot is a Buddhist symbol of eternality of movement and time. The adaptation of the knot as intersecting frames further accentuates the “non-destination” nature for the living quarters that blurs the boundary between private and communal.
The Mandala represents the order of the Buddhism’s understanding of universe. The temple adopts the idea of the Mandala in two forms creating two separate sacred spaces sharing the same centre; and meditation steps for sex workers and exiting sex workers.
The symbol of chaos takes the same original form as the symbol of order. It however exists in multiple dimensions that varies with perspective. 12 perspectives of the symbol are used to organise the surface of Island of Chaos. The orientation of the island surface is reflected on the floating cloud only accessible to sex workers.
In the folklore of Nariphon, trees bearing fruits shaped like young female figures are the symbols of protection and power. On the island of Community, the living quarters becomes 10 Nariphon tree in the story and woman living in it are the fruits that protect and depend on one another for protection and empowerment.
The idea of labyrinth complements Buddhist take on nature- not as form but as processes. On the island of Escape, a double labyrinth plan is used as a way of walking meditation as well as relaxation which eventually lead one to the central plaza facing the temple.
As visitors descend making their decisions, the paths become increasingly irregular to follow the shape of the island. The physical distortion of the path is symbolic of the gradual entrance into their different roles in Bangkok Spring.
94% of the Thai population are Buddhists, and merit making by sex workers account for more than 8% of all Bangkokians. Religion and fear for bad Karma serves as a temporary mental escape for sex workers. The island of Escape has a temple that serves as both a temporary and permanent escape from Bangkok Spring.
Mathung is an Island of U-turns. The entire island consists of a station where all initial arrival happens. And five paths which visitors are free to choose to enter. Within each tower is a central atrium as tall as its roof. Circulated by a series of continuous ramps that leads visitors all the way down; and a thousand extensions out of each tower to allow for a change of one’s journey at every step. It looks like the busiest elevated highway one would have ever seen. Except that every “highway” brings a U-turn back to a previous point. The island, is indeed designed for the fickle-minded. This island is never silent. Accompanied by the occasional laughter or cries of children left playing in the main atrium, the sound of a thousand footsteps never seem to stop at any hour of the day- calm, excited, anxious, agitated, or hesitant. At the end of the journey, one is brought to an embassy to cross over, which activates the new character they are going to live as in the new world of desire; for an hour, or for a lifetime.
Nixxn is the island of chaos. The guests arriving by boat see the island like a fantastical castle where they will be king. This island stages stories and themes of their loveliest fetish where they can get lost in; even the sky reflects the dreamlike realities for the guests to indulge. The woman plays host: she attaches her charactersâ€™ lives to the guestsâ€™ characters according to the stories the island tells. However, the woman knows she will not be lost in the surface of chaos and host identity as they are two-dimensional, temporary and cheap. She knows well how the island is made. For she raises her head she sees the map of the island visible to no one else. At the end of the day, when the woman scrapes her identity of host, she goes through the islandâ€™s silent, blank and permanent twin like a ritual. Through the abandoned memories piling up like rows of enormous tombstones, to forget her missing lover, or to dwell awhile in her one-sided love, before she starts a new story afresh.
Chumchn is an edgeless island; barriers, boundaries disintegrate and disappear. Every street looks like every other street. Only the women who knows by heart how the island is made remember her way home, to the baths, and to the lookout. The new comer is embraced; stripped of her identity by young women just like her - naked, exposed; slender, not tall, some fair, some dark. There is no need for shame, or even privacy; welcome to the good women community they say, this is her new family. The island is like none of those she has seen before; no walls, no ceilings, no doors except what seem like flowing frames that encompasses the living quarters that extends right into the steaming public baths, or an oversize hammock, or a little garden where at any hour if she raises her eyes through the intersecting frames she is likely to glimpse a young woman or many young women living the life she desires in the new community.
Hni is an island of order. She who lives a long life of deviancy seeks refuge in order. She seeks onlyl the order of nature and the Buddha. The island of escape is a forest of tranquil. Faced at the east edge of the island there is a circular temple with the Buddha facing the West. The meditative steps spreads in circles around the temple like the areola of her motherâ€™s nipples. The central division line of the circle is separated by the flow of a river, connected by a bridge. Residents go to pray and make merit each day towards the East, those who are not prepared to leave would meditate in the inner half of the temple, and those who want to leave need to sit on the outer half of the circular stairs; beneath the symbol of Buddha, where she faces the world she has long been detached from. She realises she is learning securitisation, judgement, and individuality once again.
a multi-religious complex at Punggol, Singapore
Places of worship, in many religions have association with the bigger universe, and nature. However, the meeting of religions in the same society becomes increasingly protected to avoid conflict and enhance the sense of intimacy and purity of individual religion. Singapore is home for citizens of more than 10 different religions, with the 4 main ones being Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hindu. Religious harmony has been a key focus of Singapore since independence. The diverse yet concentrated urban population make-up of Singapore, as well as actual demand of combined worship spaces allow for opportunities in the exploration of a new typology of sacred architecture: an inter-faith complex. The design aspires to create a harmonious and sharing culture within the space that is welcoming to everyone. This is realised through abstracting and reducing each religious architectural language and expression of such inter-faith sacred spaces; and immersing shared community services, facilities and social spaces into the religious typology. The design primarily simulates a journey around and up a common pool of water, which has sacred properties across all four religions. The journey brings one through all shared facilities and specific religious spaces, and finally leads one to common meditation area that looks inwardly into the pool.
Level 1 common area
From top left to right: Plan Level B2, Plan Level B1, Plan Level 1, Plan Level 2, Plan Level 3, Plan Level 4
Entrance exhibition area
Buddhist Spaces Ventilation Block
Centralised spatial hierarchy from Mandala
Clockwise movement through Mandala
Simplified centralised spiral resembles the Mandala circulation
Derived ventilation block with 36% porosity
Representative centralised rotating of two squares
Derived ventilation block with 39% porosity
Hindu Spaces Ventilation Block
Square as the fundamental form in Hinduism
Repeated motif of rotating squares around the same centre
Muslim Spaces Ventilation Block
Circle as the sacred geometry in Islam
“7” often expressed as a flower with a centre and 6 petals in Islam
Corridor outside library
Number “7” retained with abstracted geometry derived from overlapping petals
Derived ventilation block with 42% porosity
Simplified expression of the Trinity using curves
Derived ventilation block with 66% porosity
Expression of the spatial organisation on facade modules
Derived ventilation block with 51% porosity
Christian Spaces Ventilation Block
3 Circle represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
The overlaps of the circles form the symbol for Trinity
Common Spaces Ventilation Block
Plan of the building
Harmonic symbol of 4 religions coming together centred around a waterbody
Facade modules with alternating thickness increases unity of facade when ventilation block pattern changes according to function
Vertical “street” extended from main street
Placement of main religious spaces
Dissolving levels to decrease height hierarchy
Top: Unrolled Section showing interior spaces and levels Right: Detail of library and ventilation block facade
Placement of common facilities and spaces
Insert “void deck” on level 1 for spontaneous usage
From Left: Model in 1:250 scale; Model from top; Model showing the interior path and pond.
a breathable facade in Pune , India This is an advanced architecture construction group project to design a faรงade for an office building (with mix-use) located in Pune, India. Pune has a relatively large temperature differences during day and night. Our group envisioned a light-weight faรงade that transforms throughout the day climatically, creating dynamism on the faรงade of the building via simple mechanisms. The concept of a breathable facade allows for an automatic adjustment of ventilation and heat let into the building while reducing UV and glare via an automated modular faรงade. The movement resembles the opening and closing of fish gills, thus the name.
Through research of materials and mechanisms, the final design involves the use of polyester spandex blend attached to the faรงade frame with a pulley system. The material has high stretch-ability, flexibility, porousity and UV resistance at the same time light-weighted, achieving our initial performance goals and breaks the heavy volume of the building with a dynamic and modular aesthetics.
recuperation centre for the injured at Balestier
Balestier contains the future medical hub of the region. Sited in the transition between the residential neighbourhood and the medical hub, my recuperation centre is design for the injured as it is the top condition for hospitalisation in Singapore. Injuries usually happen without warning; therefore, patientsâ€™ lifestyles would undergo drastic and sudden changes that require a greater buffer period to adapt. My design not only provide patients with undisturbed residential and living conditions; relaxing music and reading therapy spaces are also centrally integrated to help emotional trauma and depressions that are common amongst these patients. ] The intentional gradual separation of the injured patients from the bustling neighbourhood provides them with intimate and quiet spaces to fully accept their injuries and get used to living with their new paces without stress and excessive self-consciousness imposed on them by others.
Interior view of concert space
a multi-sensorial playground at Hongdae, Seoul
Home to Hongik university, Hongdae is known for its vibrant and energetic day and nightlife. The area is known for its eclectic mix of cafes, galleries, shops, bars and basking culture that serves as a unique identity among Koreaâ€™s youths. Abstracting the essence of the Hongdae experience, I have reduced Hongdae to the senses: from the cafes, street food, to traditional restaurants lining the streets (smell and taste); to the basking artists and pop music (hearing); to the youthful graffities and small art studios hidden in the allies (Visual). My design is a mix-use fun palace-inspired playground architecture that exemplifies the sensorial experiences including a dine-in-the-dark restaurant that heightens the sense of taste; a sound museum corresponding to sense of hearing; as well as an art studio and gallery that accentuates the visuals of Hongdae. A fun, planar linear spatial organisation breaks the site into manageable and intimate spaces for each of the activities, allowing one to have a space to find their own interpretation of Hongdae via the senses.
Siteâ€™s size in relation to human proportion
Break up the site into strips of 1500mm to accentuate the linearity of site
Fold the strips to create spaces, activating usage and movement throughout the site
Circulation Dine in the dark Kitchen spaces Sound museum Art jamming cafe
Site Plan showing linearity of design
Exterior Render showing complexity of folded spaces
Sectional perspective showing activities
From top: Plan Level 2, Plan Level 1, Plan Level B1
Interior view of the folded spaces and levels
MArch Architecture Academic Portfolio