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Spaces of Alienation: Spatial Stories from Eric Khoo's 12 Storeys and Mee Pok Man
by LEONG Wei Lin

This dissertation is motivated by my interest in other forms of media, namely film, having a beneficial complementary effect on architectural discourse. The research argument is based on two main observations of social spaces around public housing estates today. Firstly, social spaces today are sterile as

housing estates are not distinctive. Secondly, there is an underlying sense of alienation, where the urban environment forces the residents to become seemingly homogeneous entities.

This alienation pertains to feelings and perception – things that are rather intangible and non-literal. To further explore the theme of urban alienation, the dissertation wil use two particular Singaporean films to conduct a visual discourse on spatial stories in film and through that, the idea of alienation as seen in our public housing environment. The introduction and first chapter offer a theoretical excursion on the  relationship between spaces of alienation in film and architectural discourse. The emphasis in the second chapter, Physical “WALLS” is on walls as a physical divide, becoming the alienating element. The third chapter, Intangible "WALLS” contains adiscussion on non-physical boundaries such as language that define spaces, unseen but felt; arising from space typology and human relationships. The fourth chapter, “WALL” Facades looks at both metaphorical and physical ‘facades’ asidentified in the film-stills chosen. Theories covered are mainly with regards to the narrative power of space, of creating ‘spatial stories’; of the idea that filmic evidence can contribute to normative architectural evidence in the demonstration of themes such as alienation. Alienation and its manifestations will be discussed in relation to the film content as well as in contradiction to the state’s objectives for a unified housing space.


The dissertation aims to highlight the presence of spaces of alienation within Singapore's housing landscape through the use of local film. These films showcase highly identifiable visual examples of life in a Singaporean housing estate.

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