Domestic Capital: an experimental studio
M.Arch 1 Studio | AY2021-22 Semester 2
Mapping Land: Reframing Representation in Kampong Lorong Buangkok
by TAN Wei Jie Eugene
Maps are often the starting point in the design of architecture. Yet these maps often value measurability, precision, and objectivity over other qualities. In omitting information about materiality, history, and culture, these maps often reduce a site to a shape on paper. In Singapore, where land is scarce, this means of representation is particularly useful as it ascribes the value of land to its size, allowing authorities to make economic decisions about the use of land.
The documentation phase critiques this neoliberal paradigm in valuing land. In Kampong Lorong Buangkok, the huge site has been earmarked for redevelopment into a three-lane expressway due to economic methods of valuation. In exploring the site as opposed to studying it from a map, I argue that land cannot be valued for its size, but rather should be valued for the community, the way of life, and the narratives that had defined the village. Using the same methodology of mapping, the documentation phase explores a series of alternative maps, that argue that the value of land is more than its size, but rather the ecology, the narratives, and the events that have happened on the site.
However, maps that are created in the cartographic frame are always limited by the limitations of the cartographic profession. In the design phase, mapping is explored through the architectural frame. An archatographic map is proposed, which subverts conventions like the rectangular frame, the material of paper, and conventions like the north arrow or the grid.
Envisioned as a map in 2038 when the Kampong has been cleared for redevelopment, the archatographic map allows one to navigate around the site by carrying it around. By orientating and navigating using landmarks and pacing, the slow process of navigating reveals stories and artifacts that once existed on the site. In the absence of the kampong, the map seeks to embody the experience of living on the site, allowing visitors to experience the kampong from the perspective of a resident.
Lastly, in the absence of the original kampong, as different visitors move around the site using the archatographic map, their engagement with the map creates different spaces that rely on their interpretation of the site and map. This spatial response contradicts the fixity of architecture, revealing the biases of architectural maps that we often overlook.
Other Selected Works
[ Takeaway, Toilet Breaks and One Very Persistent Cat ]
[ Laundry, Presence and Production ]
[ Holding Space ]
[ The Baker's Brigade ]