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portfolio no 6

A0111169M Designing for the Sacred in Living & Dying Alexandra, Singapore

between the walls AIR





by A0111169M / Lin Derong tutor Fung John Chye & Tan Chee Kiang





Deathbeds at Sago Lane. circa Singapore 1949

Charting Care Continuum

Background / The design brief called for a

interviews, case studies, site studies et cetera.

comprehensive environment for palliative care. As

Insights on user’s profiles, identify typical personas,

Singapore progresses towards an aging population

understanding needs assessment, activities and

with an increase demand for palliative care, it is

functional workflows, caregiver provisions and

an opportunity to envision Singapore’s healthcare

anecdotal evidences from individual cases should

landscape in the next 50 years. This landscape would

be developed. 2. Examining and questioning

integrate healthcare, environmental behaviour,

prevailing programming and typologies such that

psychological, technological and environmental

new architectural expressions are derived, befitting

aspects. With building sustainability as part of the

the current philosophy of care. 3. Developing these

objective, for instance, passive design strategies

ideas into schematic designs through abstractions

and active solutions should also be integrated into

and translation process.

the proposal alongside with universal design and accessibility for patients. The site is fringed by the rail corridor along Alexandra Road. It forms part of a future medical campus that is zoned for hospital land use in URA’s Masterplan 2014. The spatial programme envisions a multi-storey building that creates an appealing healthful experience. Likewise, the approach

AR3102, Design 06

methodology is broken down into three parts: 1.

11 January - 15 April, 2016

Understand the various aspects relating to palliative

undergraduate year 3, semester 2, AY15/16

care. This would involve literature review, surveys,

National University Health System x Department of Architecture National University of Singapore



Interpretation / Beyond the notion of a hospice,

are often compromised. “Beds” are contested for in

the brief asked how the sacredness of living and

these institutions instead of spaces for care receivers.

dying affects what we value in life as humans.

Within these “beds”, they follow a regimented living.

Fundamentally, it is necessary to ask how our

Such environments do not become extensions

environment can sustain this scared experience by

of their personal stories and the human spirit is

mitigating the impact of suffering for those in death’s

disengaged. This is an emergency as the “continuity of

throws. Our uniqueness as individuals exacerbates

life” towards the end of life is prematurely cut. Such is

the complexity of such questions. This brief provides

the failings of a regimented and institutionalized care

an opportunity for an alternative way of looking at

system. Hence, as we think about this critical issue, it

a hospice. The project therefore is not a criticism of

cannot be approached like a hospital.

the physical facilities themselves, but the working system of palliative care. The prescribed conventions

It is life. And end of life.

of a hospice in today’s society is systematic, organized and efficient. However, it removes the soul and

The design therefore directs itself towards a radical

“human” out of the care receivers. Precedent studies

shift in how such spaces are being provided for the

also revealed a one size fits all solution in current

care flow of both care receivers and care givers.

hospice model where privacy and family spaces

Care receiver’s autonomy becomes paramount. The

Mapping Care Complexity


— expounding on the pin-wheel’s geometrical performance and using kitchen and food to bring people together. design would therefore be focused at an intimate scale – the realm of private spaces. This would serve

Iteration / Departing from this design idea, a

as a backdrop for the design thinking. The first part

series of layout experimentations and geometric

of my response hence entail an understanding of the

resolutions were carried out. Starting out with a

typical mundane actions performed in such spaces

square and an anthropometric grid of 1.5m2, the

and identifying its persona. [p.10]

abstraction process synthesizes the pin-wheel and the centrality of the kitchen. Taking advantage of the

Response / The design intent brings forth the notion

pinwheel’s performative aspect, the objective is to

of domesticity. It is not to replicate a home but to

promote privacy, circulation and direct light carved

return spatial autonomy to the residents. This would

out from the walls within the living spaces.

mean giving residents a choice of engaging with the community or to retreat to their individual realm

At the same time, the functions of walls in an open

with their families. Hence, the challenge is to look

plan environment is studied. Through diagramming

into the in-betweens: Between the private and the

and study models, the walls are arranged in a

community, between the outside and the interior and

pinwheel system which governs the positions of

between the sterility of a hospital and the domesticity

private spaces. Through the negotiation of spatial

of a home. This design proposal thus anchors itself to

hierarchy in relation to the centrality of the kitchen,

address directly to such resident’s spatial needs and

disguised as a nurse station, results in 2 pinwheels

place emphasis on the human consideration.

arms pinning around a larger square. The role of the walls in achieving the design intent becomes


While we tackle the institutional nature of a hospice,

instrumental in giving the project’s an architectural

I argue against focusing on a formal exercise of



building creation, instead the methodology delves deep into spatial layout and the flow of care.

Further expanding the potentialities of the walls,

Based on programmatic requirements, a single

even floors iterates a twisting of the individual spaces

unit with ancillary facilities serving such 1-2-3

that is geometrically governed by the walls pinning

bedder is assumed as a “living-module” for design

around the central kitchen. This results in left over

development. Such regimented arrangement is then

roof spaces on odd floors above it, which eventually

challenged by asking how to create identical spaces

become balconies on those even floors and creating

in an open plan but yet allowing residents feel to

pockets of family and personal balconies. Partition

like a private room with different experiences. The

wardrobes are also proposed to both furnish and

concept of Kitchenism and its pin-wheel system

delineate the private spaces from communal ones.

from Maggie’s Center is adopted as a strategy

CAREGIVERS/ Reporting, Sorting, Making Rounds, Giving Medications, Arranging, Giving Therapies – Light, Art, Hydro, Physio, Counselling, Psychoemotional supporting, Caring, Accompanying, Cooking, Cleaning, Washing, Assisting, Bathing, Walking, Chatting, Napping, Eating, Processing Paperwork, Checking Blood Pressure, Resting, Buying Groceries, Gardening, Retreating. RESIDENTS/ Waking Up,



Buying Groceries, Washing, Cooking, Cleaning, Smoking, Eating, Feeding Other Residents, Feeding Animals, Feeding Fishes, Gardening, Watering Plants, Decorating, Singing, Dancing, Chatting, Exercising, Walking, Playing, Watching Television, Drawing, Painting, Reading, Writing, Skyping, Using Internet, Hanging Out, Going for Therapy, Staring, Looking at Photographs, Taking Photos, Playing Musical Instruments, Sleeping



Family Members

Resident - Bed-Ridden

Resident - Wheelchair Bounded

Resident - Limited Mobility

Resident - Dementia

Resident - Youth Abled

By Ascending Energy Demand

Assistance Required

No Assistance Required



This set of single living layout becomes “living-

synthesis of challenging prescribed conventions,

modules” for the whole environment. Placing the

finding creative solutions to it and then resolving

modules on the site, its proliferation is based on

building practicalities, the proposal is grounded on its

geometric resolution to existing elements.

spatial layout through the notion of domesticity and

Kitchenism, In the context of land scarcity and ever-increasing demand for palliative care in Singapore, we cannot

In this vein, the drawings made in this project aim

afford lowness i.e. single floor hospice complex. As

to capture the temporalities of the palliative care

the design resolves towards building practicalities

environment. Through hand drawings, it challenge the

and programmatic requirements, living units are

assumed sterility of a hospice and the idiosyncratic

lifted up 10 meters from the ground and floors are

domestic realm. It suggests how identical spaces in

stacked; providing optimum views and connection

the living modules could be negotiated through small

with surrounding nature by balconies. Ground

scale individual appropriations; whereby actions

environment would then be reserved for expansive

performed in space embody values of comfort,

clinic, therapy spaces, administration and gardens.

privacy and even taste. This is rendered through personal objects, or rather, traces of bodies being

The building’s orientation takes advantage of the

left behind by residents. This further affirms the

wind direction (NE-SW) to channel air and light onto

importance of the resident’s spatial practices as a

the ground floor. Features walls are also extended

vital factor in order to create an environment before

outwards in relation to the surrounding greenery

their departure.

and the upcoming green corridor development. In addressing the façade, the design process resulted in 3 orchestrated spatial sequence of entries and circulation. It separates the servant and the served, dirty and clean, entrance and departure. Lastly, the final iteration results in an efficient structural system that follows the architectural language of the shear walls, which thereby frees the need for columns.

Key References 1. Gawande, Atul. 2014. Being mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end. First ed. New York: Metropolitan Books. 2. Rice, Charles. 2007. The emergence of the interior: Architecture, modernity, domesticity. New York: Routledge. 3. Worpole, Ken. 2009. Modern hospice design: The architecture of palliative care. New York, NY; Abingdon [England];: Routledge. 4. McGann, Sarah. 2011. Spatial practices and the home as hospice. The Australasian Medical Journal 4 (9): 495-9.

Reflections / In this design essay, I have documented

5. Risse, Guenter B., and M.J. Balboni. 2013. Shifting Hospital–Hospice

the design process which I undertook in response to

boundaries. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine 30

propose a palliative care environment. This design is a critique on the current social condition of the dying process and the assumed spaces catered for it. In other words, it is a critique on the system of care instead of its physical facilities. Through a holistic

(4): 325-30. 6. Heathcote, Edwin. 2006. Maggie’s centres. BMJ: British Medical Journal 333 (7582): 1304-5. Illustrations [p.9] Initial Design Intent and Strategy [left] Persona Chart [p.14] Mood board giving “form” to the subjective intangible.





Modular Abstractions + Permutations* / [above] Initial set of drawings explore the various spatial layouts and permutations based on the scale of a single assumed living module. Studies start with the most imtimate scale of a room and the existing character of 1-2-4 bedder in a pinwheel system. Bed requirements attempt to fit around a kitchen and service core. [p.18] Exploring the functions of walls in a pinwheel *Anthropometric grid of 1.5 m2 is adopted as a basis for abstraction - 1.5m width set as a minimum for comfortable wheelchair/ bed accessibility.




20 1.0 2.1 2.2


Modular Abstractions + Permutations / Model Studies 1.0. Literal interpretation of bedroom requirements in pinwheel system / Model Studies 2.1. Assumed living unit with kitchen core, ancillary service spaces and 1-2-4 bedder / Model Studies 2.2. Initial proliferation with kitchen core as a connecting annex / Model Studies 3.0. Iteration studies on the functions of walls based on [p.18] diagrammes.


22 4.1 4.2


Modular Abstractions + Permutations / Model Studies 4.1-4.2. Spatial refinement from previous model studies - fitting programmatic requirements and introduction of elevator core. Model Studies 4.3. Vertical and horizontal repetition of modules. Twisting of private spaces on even floors to create opportunities for family/private balconies on both floors.



Programmatic Translation / [p.24] Exploration of the 4 pinwheel narrowed down to 2 private wings pinning about 1 kitchen core. This series presents the initial exploration of an inter-modular connector / [above] Attempt to fit other programmatic requirements and adjusting anthropometric dimensions.



Programmatic Translation / [p.26] Centrality of kitchen refined with 2 sets of arms pinning around it. Synthesis of architectural language, programmes, hierarchy of private-family-communal spaces on the modular scale. / [above] Programmatic and spatial hierarchy between private-communal.



Final Iteration - Living-Module



Final Iteration - Living-Module



Modular Proliferation on Site / [p.32] Repetition of 4 singular living modules to create a larger pinwheel. Site forces converted 1 module into an anchor slab block / [above] 2 squares further introduced into the geometry as circulation cores to tie 3 living modules together.


34 5.0. 6.1 6.2



Modular Proliferation on Site / Model Studies 5.0. Vertical stacking of singular living module + Horizontal expansion - negotiating interactions between two stacked modular units / Model Studies 6.1 - 6.2. Volumetric studies of site impact by the derived geometry / Model Studies 7.1 - 7.2. Synthesis of overall composition and processing relationship between upper living modules and ground services.



Final Iteration - Roof Plan



Lifting living units up



Ground Floor Environment / Modular proliferation of the single living unit is based on response to existing site elements. The void between the living cells and ground frames the visual connection to the exterior and lets air in. Walls double up as wind walls as it channels N-E winds on site. The resulting plan of ground facilities would thereafter be driven by programmatic requirements as it fits into the layout.











[left] Ground Plan / Entrance foyer, Dining space, Clinic & Therapy outpatient services, Nurse’s stations and lounges, and Ancillary services [above] Circulation / 1. Functional Zoning / 2. Block Setting + Main Circulation / 3. Out-Patient / 4. Resident’s / 5. Dirty Service / 6. Clean Service / 7. Medical Emergency / 8. Departure





[above] Addressing Entrance / 3 entires addressed - Main entrance, Ancillary servicing and Casket departure. The entrance block slab, which anchors the pinwheel geometry on plan, orchestrates the spatial sequence into the edifice and composes the faรงade. [p.48] Spatial Sequence A / through ancillary services, clinc services, lying-in room, departure foyer. / [p.50] Spatial Sequence B / through main entrance and living units.







Structural Efficiency / A flab slab sheer wall construction system is adopted in line with the architecture language of the walls. This thereby frees the edifice of unnecessary columns and allow for an efficient structural system. Service corridors runs around the living cells as ordered by the overall structural layout and two service cores.





process exploring the dynamic interlocking parti intrinsic to this geometry. Innovation is taken a notch up by integrating a square module as focal point for common amenities. Propagating the dual-pinwheel residential clusters on a gently sloping site, connectivity is via a series of ramps. Overall, the disposition of forms and open spaces engendered a fascinating dissipative planning structure. - Fung John Chye.

domesticity and Kitchenism. The design focuses on the intimacy of the private realm and suggests a new structural flow of care through a holistic synthesis of questioning the prescribed conventions, finding creative solutions to it and then resolving building practicalities. / This is a large scale project with a complex set of programme. There were so much to do but so little time within 13 weeks. I have never felt so inadequate after 5 semesters. This project is built upon all previous skills acquired in the past and our (overwhelming) emotions in response such a brief. It tested our capabilities to handle programmatic complexities and forced us to understand real-time implications of our design ideas on both the soft and hard engineering of the care environment. As aspiring architectural professionals, it has made us tougher, smarter and more sensitive. I would like to thank my tutor Fung John Chye for his patience and his big heart to our studio - and whom has also taught me something else about architecture - to work with a raison d’être, perseverance and determination.

| 11 January - 15 April | submitted for AR3102, Design 06 | undergraduate year 3, AY15/16

it. The resulting architecture is an environment that is evoked through the notion of

| National University Health System x Department of Architecture

the current social condition of the dying process and the assumed spaces catered for

| School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore | July 2016

Epilogue / This design essay is my critique on the existing system of palliative care —

under tutelage of Fung John Chye |

privacy. Adopting a pinwheel plan-form, the design is an optimal outcome of a rigorous

no 6 | the sixth architectural portfolio |

philosophy that a dying person’s final journey is an intimate affair deserving utmost

design project 10 | by A0111169M, Lin Derong |

Tutor’s Notes / Working from inside out, Derong’s project advances the prevailing care

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architectural portfolio 06