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

Laundry, Presence and Production
by LIM Kun Yi James


Our clothes cling onto our bodies with a degree of intimacy unknown even to the closest of relationships. These garments act as a second skin, providing a barrier between our derma and the environment. Yet the puritanical treatment of the maintenance involved in upkeeping these prized possessions belies the value of both laundry and its caretakers—clean clothes are seen as paradoxically contaminating the environment.

The compression of laundry infrastructure into compact ubiquitous machines, within the home and its peripheries, has engendered accessibility and convenience whilst simultaneously naturalising and chronically devaluing the labour. Only foregrounded when it accumulates, or decommissions parts of the home during inclement weather, space for this invisible labour becomes a concession relegated to the unseen and immutable. Laundry and its processes, however, occupy a cyclical spatial and temporal presence, silenced but silently carving out latent spaces within the home. It serves as an indicator of interior micro-climates and rituals, amplifying its role as a social condenser. The fragrance of UV, flittering garments, and calls of impending rain echoing through the height of the block, instantiate the observed aesthetic experiences and time-scales of laundry.

In imagining the flat as a laundry machine, the project situates laundry as an expansive field to be encountered, adopting the format of a sequenced choreography spanning the monsoon season. This field is expressed through material thresholds of “wallpapers”, offering a way to tune the degree of porosity, both in the response to the environment and changes imposed by the occupant. In doing so, the project seeks to relocate laundry out of the compressed recesses of the home, within which they are confined, into interactive spaces in flux. Attempting to elevate and restore value and visibility to clean and essential laundry, seen at once unsightly and nondescript.

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