by Toby FONG Khee Chong
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of global supply chains. The immobilisation of global workforces and restricted international borders has led to severe disruptions of essential imports such as foods, medicines and daily necessities. Import-dependent Singapore is left to fend for herself - drawing on limited stockpiles and scavenging for alternative food sources.
A rewilding of Singapore into a productively secure nation must occur to address the continued crises. The thesis starts the process to reconcile food production with the household, beginning with a Back-to-Basics Bootcamp education of rewilding in the Northwest countryside. Singapore’s rewilding suggests production security as a shared responsibility between companies, the state and the individual.
This thesis proposes a Back-to-Basics Bootcamp, an intermediary between the Northwest and the city. Over the course of 50 years, the Bootcamp mints an urban population into resourceful and productive agents for Singapore’s rewilding. Life post-Bootcamp compels one to apply knowledge and physical specimens within our urbanized surroundings. By the year 2070, after the gathered Northwest practices root themselves into our daily existence, the Bootcamp will be rendered obsolete.
The Bootcamp is sited in Northwest Singapore, the last vestige where ground-based farmlands and wild jungle coincide. People and programmes in the Northwest retain an integral relationship to the wilderness, tapping into indigenous, generational and endangered knowledge of non-urban living to grow food and keep lands productive. The Bootcamp is experienced through the recovered fieldnotes of an alumni that unfolds in four phases - 1. Sprout (Initiation), 2. Seedling (Skills Acquisition), 3. Rooting (Farmhands), 4. Fruiting (Graduation).
Wild nature exists in many material forms - from barnacles to wild mushrooms. Through the manipulation of such materials, the architect enters an equal partnership with the wild to sculpt spaces of learning. This proposal demonstrates one such partnership through the detailed development of architecture’s collaboration with the native Ficus Kerkhovenii plant. The architectural outcome is in a tectonic centred around the Ficus’ behaviour as space-maker, construction material, educational tool and timekeeper which facilitates the transfer of basic knowledge and low-technology.