Sean Chia portfolio
Sean Chia December 2012
the gastronomical monastery
reading the monongahela
taman kampong: a glimpse of potentiality
mixed-class/mixed-use hybrid development
the alexandra cyclery
integrated centre for cycling
inhabitation: new life zone at lembu square
atmosphere: response and construction
hideout for landscape photographers
profile Sean Chia was born in Singapore and graduated in May 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture (Honours, First Class) from the National University of Singapore. Besides being placed on the Deanâ€™s List throughout the course of study, he received the Board of Architectâ€™s Prize in 2009/2010. Presently an Architectural Intern at WOHA Architects, his past experiences includes an exchange programme at Carnegie Mellon University in USA, a teaching assistant for a course on Strategies for Sustainable Architecture, as well as a student delegate at the 24th World Congress of Architecture, UIA2011 Tokyo. His predominant architectural interests lie in critical design thinking, experiential process and formal legibility of the built environment. Intrigued by the potential of real-world architectural inquiry and exploration, he aspires to further his education at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
the gastronomical monastery
type/year third-year project, ba (arch) nus, 2011 course/instructor ar3102, patrick chia (adj. prof., nus) location dempsey hill, singapore program medical-agrotourism facility with accomodation
“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”
Eating is an intrinsic constituent for living and is executed on a daily basis. By harnessing this premise, nutrition becomes a quintessential element in the pursuit for health. However, eating today has been eroded by socio-economical forces into a mere vehicle to satisfy hedonic desires. This disjunction in the wholesomeness of food results in detrimental repercussions in one’s state of health. The role of the facility is thus to rekindle our otherwise devolved attitude towards food through an augmented reharmonisation of the food cycle ― where growing, cooking and eating is celebrated. Emphasis on the different processes are played out in a hierarchy reverse to the existing realm whereby consumption is deemed the most important activity in nutrition. The idea of a spectacle and promenade is exploited through a careful calibration of axes, light, and spatial-volumetric gradations.
- Hippocrates, 460-359 B.C.
Appropriate technologies has been called upon in the building to suggest the notion of wholeness: biological digesters complete the food cycle by breaking down waste from the building into compost that feeds the roof farm, and radiative cooling pipes are casted into the screed to utilise the cool-pool formed by the building. Similarly, an attempt to reflect this idea is reflected in construction details. Resonating with context and perpetuating the message of food as medicine, the independent production and consumption of food on-site serves as a critique of the commercialised state of dining establishments in the vicinity, allowing for the potential of sparking an interest in wholesome eating and organic produce. Ultimately, the healing of the body is only temporary ― but changing our attitude towards health is forever.
a hierarchical reversal of the food consumption process and formal strategies to create spectacle through views and sequence 7
longitudinal section across meditation tower, roof farm, kitchen, transitory pathway, and reception
A’ ±0.00 LOBBY +3.50 m
ROOF FARM +3.50 m
STAFF ENTRANCE +3.50 m
2F PLAN (1:200)
A’ A REBIRTH CANAL KITCHEN +1.00 m
REFECTORY +0.50 m
EMERGENCY / SERVICE ±0.00
MECHANICAL: BIOLOGICAL DIGESTER
MECHANICAL: RADIATIVE COOLING
1F PLAN (1:200)
top: ground floor plan above: basement plan 10
SECTION DETAIL BBâ€™
above: section across roof farm, refectory, kitchen, and accommodation below (clockwise): kitchen, guestroom cluster, meditation tower
COMPOSITE R.C. + STEEL DECK ROOF SLAB
LH SERIES LONGSPAN OPEN-WEB STEEL JOIST for column-free receoption space
R.C. FLAT SLAB roof farm and garden
STRUCTURAL R.C. COLUMNS open kitchen and refectory
HIGH -PERFORAMANCE CONCRETE meditation tower and elevator shaft LOAD-BEARING R.C. WALLS room partition
RETAINING WALL subterreanean structure
ALUMINIUM CANOPIES WITH STEEL SUBSTRUCTURE
CUT & COVER METHOD subterrenean structure
exploded structural axonometric 12
R.C. FLOOR SLAB
SECTION BB’ DETAIL SCALE = 1:20
STAIR DETAIL SCALE = 1:5
ASSEMBLY BREAKDOWN SCALE = 1:75
STEEL SUBSTRUCTURE WITH AIRCRAFT CABLE IN TENSION
TREADS STACKED THROUGH INNER COMPOSITE COLUMN
TREAD EXTENDS TO FORM TABLE TOP
BALUSTRADE AND HANDRAIL
SECURED TO CONCRETE BASE
top: construction detail of typical guestroom above: customised stair-table-parasol contraption 13
reading the monongahela
type/year third-year project, b.arch, carnegie-mellon university, 2010 course/instructor 48300, jennifer gallagher (adj. prof., cmu) location pittsburgh, pennsylvania, usa program environmental centre with outdoor classroom and accommodation
The dichotomy between the perception of the natural as opposed to the reality of the man-made is explored in this project. The essence of an intricate reading of site and landscape is distilled into discrete sequential phenomena that in return, through architectural articulation, begins to read the landscape.
Topographically challenging, the site spans approximately 2.3km² of extensive trails, steep valleys, and a stream. The project is located next to a delta of this stream. Although one perceives the site to be natural, it is in fact highly constructed. This dichotomy is expressed by the created artefact ― a box wrapped in a skin of leaves. Upon first glance, it appears to be a natural object; the rectilinear outline of the artefact however undermines this observation, resulting in an appreciation of the natural-artificial duality. Correspondingly, the goal of the architecture is to suppress, augment and finally reveal on-site elements, switching between the established notions and states of the perceived-natural/reality-artificial duality. A view becomes a message when it is manipulated: upon entering the building, the vista is reduced to just that of the river, but subsequently, the full picture is revealed.
A terraced plaza with habitable space that varies proportionally with the tide results in a greater awareness of the fluctuations of the river that otherwise goes unnoticed by the casual visitor. A sudden blast of locomotive noise sweeps through this funnel-shaped plaza, interrupting the tranquil panorama and immediately dissolving the illusion of one’s immersion in nature, while exposing a vestige of Pittsburgh’s rarely noticed and illustrious past. Lastly, an awakening of the senses is necessary for these experiences to be apparent, and thus the approach to the building requires one to wade across ankle-height water of the river on approach to the centre. As much as the site fuels the architecture, the latter has the ambition of bestowing lessons to its visitors through an orchestration of experiences made possible by the very landscape that they are situated in.
artificially natural or naturally artificial?
site studies on topography, vegetation, views, trails, and other natural and man-made phenomena 16
diagrams depicting empirical engagement of site phenomena via architectural apparatus 17
INDOOR EXHIBIT + LEARNING AREA
OUTDOOR LEARNING AREA
MEDIATHEQUE + LIBRARY
SECTION AA’ 1” : 10’
SECTION BB’ 1” : 10’
SECTION CC’ 1” : 10’
plans and sections 18
perspectives and 1/10â€? scale model 19
taman kampong: a glimpse of potentiality
type/year fourth-year project, ba (arch) nus, 2012 course/instructor ar4102, bobby wong (assoc. prof., nus) location lippo karawaci, tangerang, indonesia program mixed-class/mixed-use hybrid development
While popular belief holds that it is impossible for people of different economic classes to mix harmoniously in the same neighbourhood, the scheme challenges this assumption through a typological modification of the prevailing middle-class housing model. In this experimental housing project, the two communities are not segregated, but instead brought together, creating a heterogeneous body where residents co-exist symbiotically and ultimately eradicating the societal divide between multi-level income groups.
As a socially-responsible developer, Lippo decides to approach urbanisation from a fresh perspective. Instead of evicting residents from kampongs (a local type of informal settlement) to urban peripheries, a new type of residential development will be built on the acquired land that comprises of both original kampong residents as well as the influx of middle-class residents. The impetus grounding this seemingly imprudent proposition leverages on the interdependent nature of the kampong and middle-class residents, where localised retail and service providers within the kampong are a perfect match with the incessant desire of the middle-class for bargains.
In a single built structural unit, both middle-class and kampong residents are provided for. With issues of privacy and vehicular access considered, these units are calibrated and mirrored in two axes to form an aggregation of four kampong sub-units, generating an enclave. A bi-dimensional tessellation of these units results in the creation of two fronts: a “middle-class street” and a “kampong street”. Since the latter is a front to a multiplicity of warungs (localised shops), it has the duality of being a “market street”, creating an enticing belt of convenience for the middle-class to enjoy.
When the high cost of past governmental projects is juxtaposed against the skyrocketing demand for themed middle-class estates, the latter becomes a potential platform for alleviating the former.
To bring connection of the two classes beyond the kampong street, each unit is further calibrated to allow interaction on a more intimate scale between the servant’s domain (a feature characteristic of the typical Indonesian middle-class house), and the former kampong residents.
A survey of floor plans from existing estates reveals little difference between the themed houses. This skin-deep characteristic allows for a modification of the houses to form infrastructure for self-help housing by the kampong.
As neoliberal capitalist forces continue to exacerbate the richpoor divide not only in Indonesia, but throughout the world as well, could Taman Kampong form the basis of a possible solution to a more equitable urbanisation?
what if property developers could expand more equitably?
typical middle-class house: different facades but similar floor plans
opportunity for intervention beyond the facade
floor plan folded to form L-shaped unit
structural elements extended to form infrastructure
self-help infill by kampong class; middle-class facade re-applied
two classes housed in a single, compact unit
st re et ng
st re et
st re et
ka m po
-c la ss st re et le m id d
st re et ng ka m po
newly-formed hybrid estate via bi-dimensional tessellation privacy upheld through access calibration middle-class can still uphold their pristine front image kampong dwellers can still enjoy community living
typical middle-class terraced housing estate uni-dimensional tessellation
developable and expandable housing for kampong community mini-enclaves evoke ‘togetherness’ reminiscent of the past
hierarchy of streets expressed through road width overall more defined neighbourhood
expandable housing unit for k community centralised service core
integrated m-c & k housing w/ distinct access for both classes
interaction between m-c & k limited to k street lack of immediate dialogue between m-c & k
introduction of shared void facilitates both interaction and ventilation
issues of access and privacy must still be upheld void further shaped to provide required privacy
m-c service core positioned as a privacy barrier void forms a ‘negative lock’ that separates and joins
diagrams depicting modification of existing middle-class houses, self-help unit and neighbourhood formation strategies 23
sectional cut across both streets depicting the relationship between the two classes
perspective of middle-class street
perspective of “market” street
neighbourhood plan depicting contrasting qualities of each street 26
neighbouhood axonometric 27
the alexandra cyclery
type/year fourth-year project, ba (arch) nus, 2011 course/instructor ar4101, dr. tan beng kiang (snr. lect., nus) location alexandra, singapore program bicycle retail, repair and recycle facility with integrated learning workshop and museum
Following an extensive group study of the 26 kilometre-long Singapore-Malaysian railway site, the core of this project is a simultaneous contextual response to both the past and future. A historic spur line is manifested in the form of a building that recalls its illustrious past, and reinforces the future cycling network through the introduction of new type of programme.
In 2020, seven years after the rail corridor has been endorsed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, it has subsequently developed into a bustling cycling link from the northern-most part of the island right down into the heart of the city. Like a seed, the rail corridor has sparked the birth of an intricate network of cycling paths. Cycling for the majority is now more than just a means of recreation; it is part of everyday life. A characteristic unique to the site at Alexandra is the businesses being located immediately adjacent to the rail corridor. We could start to imagine these businesses exploiting the traffic on the rail corridor, serving cyclists with retail, repair, F&B, etc.
When we talk about Singapore as a bike-savvy nation, in contrast to a car-savvy nation, we are talking about more than just bike shops. How do we then address this intent? Perhaps a greater understanding of the bicycle, and a deeper appreciation of cycling and how things come together would allow it to do more for us. We could thus imagine a Learn, Build and Ride workshop â€” a cyclery: The Alexandra Cyclery, a one-stop destination for cycling that simultaneously performs as a programmatic syphon, piquing curiosity while linking people with the magical realm of the rail corridor.
what can this land become?
FUTURE GREEN CORRIDOR
EXPUNGED BRANCH LINE
Q U N
TIN GG IP AR K
Woodlands Town Garden
QUEENSWAY SHOPPING CENTRE
Kranji War Memorial
ALEXANDRA VILLAGE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE
REDHILL INDUSTRIAL ESTATE
NEA REGIONAL CENTRE
A L E X A N
BUKIT M ERAH
Ten Mile Junction
AYER RAJAH EXP RESSWAY (AYE)
RESIDENTIAL Hillview MRT
DEPOT LANE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE
SOUTHERN RIDGES (100m)
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
King Albert Park MRT
Buona Vista MRT
Serviced Access Point 3-5 km; 12-20 mins (bike), 36-60 mins (walk)
Jalan Hang Jebat
Bukit Merah Central Alexandra Village
Lower Delta Road 2.0km
Kampong Bahru Road 0.0km
1 km; 4 mins (bike), 12 mins (walk) 1.2km
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Shelter 500-700m; 2-3 mins (bike), 6-8 mins (walk)
above: locality map indicating site as a linear conduit left: master plan locating access points, service stops and other amenities along the entire 26 km route
right: programmatic diagram â€” patrons enter clueless and leave enlightened, with the entire rail corridor to savour on two wheels. 30
T HE AL EXAN DR A C YCL ERY L EA R N + B U I L D + R I D E WO R K S HO P
metal workshop powder coating booth
FITTING FRAME FORK HEADSET STEM
RIMS ROTORS CASSETTE TIRES
1839 MacMillan Velocipede
CRANKSET CRANK ARMS FRONT DERAILEUR REAR DERAILEUR CHAIN
1863 Michaux Velocipede secondary/service entrance
cafe + books
multi-purpose (talks, training)
+ outdoor plaza
circa 1870 Penny-farthing 180
HANDLEBARS SHIFTERS BRAKE LEVERS PEDALS CABLES HOSES
1885 - 1890 Safety Bicycle
SEAT POST SADDLE FINAL ADJUSTMENTS
recycling receptacle point 90
HELMET LIGHTS SHADES JERSEY SHOES
BB’ assembly area (frame)
longitudinal sections: banking and bending along the branch line, the form evokes site history by capturing both movement and memory
CC’ museum exhibit
EE’ secondary entrance + outdoor plaza
FF’ storage and display (seat)
x driveway ±0.00 m
Rumah Tinggi Park (0.2km)
shared path ±0.00
A’ CSR Celerifere/1797
floor plan: assembly line building up bicycle and knowledge along the site
outdoor plaza ±0.00
E’ reception +0.60
Safety Bicycle/1885 - 1890
RENTAL (300 BIKES)
1:500 site model
N Ta n
1F PLAN (1:250)
KALZIP ALUMINIUM ROOFING w/ STRUCTURAL DECKING lightweight free-form roofing system
STEEL PORTAL FRAME w/ LATERAL BRACING for column-free interior space
OVERHEAD BI-FOLD DOORS w/ ALUMINIUM SUNSHADES as shopfront opening and variable sunshading device
EXTRUDED ALUMINIUM HYDROPROOF PROFILE LOUVERS as breathable walls
R.C. FLOOR SLAB
DRYWALL PARTITIONS for flexibility in future space planning
typical section construction detail
inhabitation: new life zone at lembu square
type/year second-year project, ba (arch) nus, 2010 course/instructor ar2102, tsuto sakamoto (asst. prof., nus) location little india, singapore program backpackers’ hostel
The precise identification and augmentation of on-site atmosphere dramatically reverses the established relationship between backpacker and inhabitants of Little India. Belittling views, the notion of contextual association is explored beyond the visual medium.
In this investigation, cooks from a particular restaurant were of interest because they live and work together in the same establishment, leading to a strong sense of camaraderie. In order to encourage a similar level of communal interaction within the backpacker’s hostel, the architecture strives to persuade its inhabitants to leave their individual spaces.
On approach, the backpacker experiences a ‘king-of-the-hill’ moment as he scales the building and overlooks the square, before making his way down into the hostel. He subsequently walks into typical communal spaces, before dropping to his knees to crawl into the more private areas due to the rapidly compressing ceiling heights.
The idea of the ‘squeeze’ is derived from the cooks’ quarters, as well as the densely populated vicinity of Little India. Since interpersonal interaction is encouraged, the spaces for communal activities offer hospitable ceiling height together with natural light and ventilation. Conversely, the spaces which are anti-social in nature are highly compressed and have no visual connection to the outside.
The culmination of this gesture occurs where he sleeps, whereby the basis for such a spatial composition is finally made known to him through a medium that is most obvious ― vision. As he looks out through a narrow slit that separates the roof and floor of the building, he catches a glimpse of the feet of foreign workers congregating over the building.
Formally, one could start to imagine the program being “shrink-wrapped” by the building. A cross-sectional cut through the building reveals backpackers crawling, crouching and living in the minimum possible ceiling heights defined anthropomorphically by the activities in the hostel, while foreign workers congregate on the roof over them. Ultimately, the ‘squeeze’ becomes highly discernable.
As much as Lembu Square affords for such a building, the latter offers a landscape punctuated with niches which allow foreign workers who populate the site to better enjoy their Sundays. Beginning with a seat, ingenuity would soon find other uses for this new landscape. They soon learn about the people that live beneath their feet through clues such as smoke from cooking, as well as light that leaks out through the building, completing the dialogue between inhabitants and context.
conceptual diagram: a â€œshrink-wrapâ€? around inhabitation 37
#19 upper dickson road
top: mapping of all food and food-related establishments in little india above: front-back polarity of shophouses 38
schematic of cramped dormitory in contrast with spacious kitchen 39
floor plan 40
scheme axonometric 41
SECTION AA’ 1:75
N-W ELEVATION 1:75
top: section above: elevation
interior perspectives of communal area and accommodation
diurnal relationship between building and site 44
models of various scales to verify form and ergonomics 45
atmosphere: response and construction
type/year second-year project, ba (arch) nus, 2009 course/instructor ar2101, erik l’heureux (asst. prof., nus) location pandan reservoir, singapore program hideout for landscape photographers
Two ocular frames, two views, one site and a landscape photographer. Cantilevering over a levee between a vestige of an original mangrove and an artificial reservoir, an atmosphere of optical precision frames discrete components of the landscape. Views, sounds, and smells are calibrated within a singular volume, bifurcated, torqued, and transformed to house a photographer and her obsessions. Water and sky are isolated in doing so, focused carefully through the lens of architecture. Here in an age of digital distraction, the analogue is the prescription for the blasé of Singaporeans and their digital SLRs.
Pandan Reservoir exists as a buffer between the industrial and housing estates in the vicinity. A view of these contrasting estates create a sense of surrealism since one is only used to seeing each estate individually. Meanwhile, seclusion of the site together with sweeping vistas provide an aura of stillness. Conclusively, these atmospheres were thus chosen to drive the architecture. To fabricate an atmosphere of stillness, elements on site were selected to be optically isolated. The building thus frames sky and water, since they were the most prominent on-site. The vastness is further emphasised with the large openings to both of these elements, and they are further amplified by a sequence of volumetric compression and expansion. Surrealism on the other hand, is achieved through a non-visual medium. The building in this case juxtaposes the industrial hum and jungle ambient on-site with the dead silence that one would usually expect in a photographic dark room.
These two means of achieving the desired atmospheres are further expressed in other aspects of the scheme. Dali’s paranoiac-critical method is employed by sizing the optical frames of the building in a similar proportion to that of a photograph produced by a 35mm lens, and resultantly heightening one’s sense of surrealism. Lastly, through the instrumentation of nature, the planting around the building isolates site elements in a similar manner as the building, and one would be hit by the realisation that the landscape performs the same way as the building, further adding to the desired atmosphere. On the whole, the careful consideration of site, context and drivers, as well as the calibration and implementation of the desired experiences allow for a thoroughly atmosphericallydriven architecture. As much as the context would allow for surrealism and stillness, the architecture aspires to reciprocate and lend the site similar atmospherics.
the omnipresent vastness of sky and water on-site
sections with sightlines depicting isolated views 51
exploded axonometric based on programmatic and structural function 53
study models depicting the calibration and development of scheme 55
take one type: third-year project, ba (arch) nus (on exchange with carnegie-mellon university) year: 2010 location: pittsburgh, pennsylvania, usa program: outdoor site installation
Just as the presence of water signifies life, litter on the once disused slag heap signifies human activity.
Natural regeneration of the wasteland has not only seen a revival in the form of vegetation, but human presence as well. This is evident not only in the garbage strewn on the site, but the numerous trails and desire paths found. In a bid to raise the awareness of this observation to park users, pieces of trash that are usually hidden from view by vegetation are elevated on timber posts. As a result, the magnitude of this phenomenon becomes clear. Instead of seeing just nearby pieces of trash, one now sees all the trash on site in a single visual sweep, creating a sense of revelation and heightening oneâ€™s consciousness of the situation. A receptacle in the form of a garbage can is placed within this field to suggest oneâ€™s active participation and responsibility for the environment. site plan
approach from south-eastern trail
20x60x3000 type: second-year bamboo construction project, ba (arch) nus year: 2009 location: nus campus, singapore status: dismantled
Through exhaustive experimentation in this project, bamboo was pushed to its limits â€• a rigourous study of optical art, tessellating systems and the ruled surface framed our understanding of the geometrical propensities of the material in its natural form. Deception through tectonics, a sensibility derived from the studies, resulted in the eventual manifestation of the structure and its construction.
clockwise, from top left: elevation; construction; tessalation study; plan 60
material testing and devised joinery 61
acknowledgements 2012 taman kampong: a glimpse of potentiality Instructor: Bobby Wong (Associate Professor, NUS) Studio: Anna Chong, Chen Hui Hua, Eugene Tan, Jocelyn Chen, Kelly Koh, Kelvin Ng, Kevin Ong, Valerie Koh, Wang Yi Chao, Yong Xin Miao
2011 the alexandra cyclery Instructors: Dr. Tan Beng Kiang (Senior Lecturer, NUS), Fung John Chye (Adjunct Professor, NUS) Vertical Studio: Tan Ying Yi, Peter Then, Chong Wei Rong, Irvin Chia, Nicholas Teoh, Oscar Korintus, Dolly Foo, Beth Yang, Steve Huang, Selene Gan, Kan Lijing, Zhang Runze, Shen Hewei, Biran He
the gastronomical monastery Instructor: Patrick Chia (Adjunct Professor, NUS), Ben Redmond (WOHA Architects, Adjunct Professor, NUS) Studio: Clarence Fung, Alex Liu, Chen Ee Zhen, Jocelyn Chen, Denise Tan, Teo Xiao Wei, Hannah Young, Teguh Salim, Keith Chen
2010 reading the monongahela and take one Instructor: Jennifer Gallagher (Laquatra Bonci Associates, Adjunct Professor, Carnegie Mellon University) Studio: Dmitri Yakubov, Becky Cole, Chasen Van Lang, Dan Burdzy, Eric Bruner, Sarah Harkins, Talia Perry, John Kim
inhabitation: new life zone at lembu square Instructor: Tsuto Sakamoto (Assistant Professor, NUS) Studio: Bi Hui, Florencia Wibisono, Roy Fong, Fu Maoying, Hendry Octavanus, Ian Wong, Kelly Koh, Kelvin Ng, Ng Min, Ngu Ping Hwei, Ning Xianlin
2009 atmosphere: response and construction and 20x60x3000 Instructor: Erik Lâ€™Heureux (Assistant Professor, NUS) Studio: Chan Soon Ming, Germaine Kang, Khoo Shan Hu, Lin Yuxuan, Linda Yuliani, Fauzy Ismail, Nathawut Tangjitpeanshoke, Peter Then, Vedika Saxena, Jessica Wee, Eunice Zhuang
*all photographs are by the author, unless otherwise stated.