Domestic Capital: an experimental studio
M.Arch 1 Studio | AY2021-22 Semester 2


Image: Takeaway, Toilet Breaks and One Very Persistent Cat, Rebecca Chong Shu Wen


Work is moving home. Today, buildings that previously distinguished productive (paid) from reproductive (domestic/care) labour are being rendered obsolete; sacrosanct boundaries between private and public realms are made ambiguous. While this phenomenon is not new, its historical insignificance arises from architecture’s tendencies to divide these realms, minimising a territorial intersection with multiple social-cultural-economical-ethical-political repercussions. Home-work thus occupies a tenuous position in architectural discourse/design; there is uncertainty in its future, and obscurity in its past.

The design project takes the form of a Speculative Narrative—a telling of an alternative present/future. Based on a way of life identified in the Documentary Exercise—for example, domestic life revolving around food and cooking, the creation of virtual social spaces by discrete individuals in a single household, auditory mitigation, and many, many more—a Speculative Narrative will be crafted that demonstrates how architecture (to be defined) might shift with cultural practices of work and the home. This narrative should be presented primarily through architectural representation, including (but not limited to) film making, speculative drawing practices, and critical design interventions. Narratives must be comprehensive, containing well articulated settings (temporal and spatial), household agents/actors, objects, rituals, events and occurrences, and more. Given the bespoke nature of this project, there are no set deliverables; deliverables are proposed by the student themselves. They may take the form from printed drawings/images, digital media, supporting materials in books, reports, repositories, and more.

Part of Foundations of Home-based Work: A Singapore Study, alternatively titled Making Do, this course is being run in a novel model at NUS that we call the studio-seminar—a seminar run vertically within and alongside a design studio that grounds its research in interdisciplinary modes centred upon design. This studio-seminar is co-taught with Tan Yi-Ern Samuel.

Selected Works: