REFEREED JOURNAL ARTICLES
Keeping Cats, Hoarding Things: Domestic situations in the public spaces of a housing block
The Journal of Architecture, RIBA, 1360-2365.
The architectural discourse of Singaporean public housing is focussed primarily on efficacy. Its performance has been substantiated heavily through statistics. Such a method not only presupposes implicit objectivity but ultimately also limits the kinds of perspectives and conclusions that can be drawn. This procedure has resulted in a more or less self-serving discourse wherein the aim of public housing has been principally framed as teleological, and subsequently traced and retraced through a progressive trajectory. However, in this paper, I argue that these standardised measures and methods fail when they are applied to two public spaces of the housing block—the void deck and the common corridor. These two spaces articulate the overlapping boundaries between two separate but often conflated categories: housing (embedding architectural type and state ideology) versus domesticity (embedding lived practice and spontaneous spatial production). I make the case that the discourse of efficacy ultimately represses the affective nature of these public spaces. The paper reappraises the void deck and the common corridor through the domestic situations of keeping cats and hoarding. I discuss how these situations can be adopted as critical spatial devices to allow a different entry into, and understanding of, the void deck and the common corridor. In conclusion, the paper posits that such spontaneous occupation of public space might offer a different frame for rethinking housing renewal and for understanding the changing role and use of housing's public space by its own multiple publics.