by GOI Yong Chern
Semoga Bahagia examines the value of productive leisure in the definition of citizen and nation. The architecture revolves around pauses, intervals, desire, and difference. It critiques a capitalist city built through efficiency, and for efficacy. In recuperating histories of place, notions of value are accumulated through leisurely pursuits, personal reflection, and agency, recalibrating our attitude towards - and within - the city. The thesis takes the form of a Citizens’ Parliament, a place to host the initiation of new Singaporeans, which occupies three sites – by the river, on the hill, and within the courtyard of the current Parliament House.
1. This thesis emerged from a study of nuisance. Nuisance’s antagonism to spatial norms of the city and its architecture made it an interesting, inspiring phenomena. However, its inherently confrontational and discordant nature could not yield beyond single-line architectural statements. Architecture may transcend nuisance by not just rejecting the status quo, but by substituting it with a self-affirming set of values.
2. A reexamination of value functioned as a point of departure from nuisance. Leisure, critical of the capital-centric city, possessed value - on a local level of architecture, and collectively towards a communal sense of nationhood, that the city of capital cannot approach.
3. Infrastructure, so central to the productive city, is exposed. Infrastructures of leisure subvert the integrity of their ubiquitous counterparts. Their active forms might accumulate their own patina of meaning - they, too, can generate counter-values of leisure.
4. A Malayan spatial disposition towards productive leisure, drawn from the particularities of the land, is exemplified through the picturesque work of local landscape artists in the years following Singapore’s independence. Techniques of patterning, flatness, and layering accompany an archaeological method of reading the landscape and its histories. They make visible the leisurely potentials in which the architecture sits, invisible to other modes of representation.
Tutor's Notes // Yong Chern’s thesis accords value to leisure amidst the race for productivity. Composed of three infrastructures, it employs allegorical readings of Singapore’s landscape histories and their potentially critical dispositions. Semoga Bahagia, after a title of a children’s song by Singapore’s national anthem composer Zubir Said, proposes a speculative value system where time, space, and the intrinsic relationships within these constructs radically alter the ways we act, think, imagine, and live. The drawings advance an original interpretation of Singapore’s Malayan pre-independence landscape paintings. In sum, the thesis articulates a politicized aesthetics and productive culture of leisure as a plausible future to the capitalist city.
Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal