National University of Singapore



Jan '05 - Mar '05

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    sometimes... to live better you gotta try living with less light.

    By Torrance Goh
    Jan 26, '05 11:44 AM EST

    the first week of school started with the urban workshop to supplement this semester theme 'housing'. [prior to that was rather administrative stuff] it was headed by my tutor, keng soon.

    as some of you might know, singapore's full of very proper government built housing. you can find the government body that had been responsible for our residential landscape at the hdb. the idea was to give everyone a place to stay after we got independent 40 years ago. it had been rather successful i should say. most of us stays in these hdb flats. and no they are not dangerous like those in NY, something mr extutor erik said. he was thoroughly amazed by this country that is unique because of the success of this beign flats. everywhere. (though he has more interesting thoughts of it)

    keng soon, however, was keen to look into the ownership of these flats. yes, we own the flats, but not the land we live in. comfortable with the authorities giving us these flats with choice a,b,c,&d, we grew comfortable too to the fact that someone somewhere decides what goes on to these flats. keng soon feels that we are powerless. & that the authority too much power. too much responsibilities that lead to decisions made to selfprotect themselves. hence one gets very safe housing designs. he feels that by giving the land to the people, they might one day start making decisions together, creating communities, knowing neighbours, making the individual. he called it co-housing.

    ok, back to what we did in the week. each class was to research on a few housing types over the world to understand what each made them 'unique'. we had byker, tiong bahru, MVRDV, paris, a whole lot. my class worked on barcelona which explains all the pictures above. kheng soon basically want us to see the power of housing, plot ratios & all those mathematics. maybe living standard could be compromised & still make a brilliant place to live in. maybe private spaces with unique qualities can exist next to the city. maybe we do not always need tall flats. maybes.

    the possibilities is endless. if the people have at least the power to change more that they could now over here. maybe.... maybe not? we as architects will never know if we never try.

    here's jonathon (a classmate)'s views of the workshop here.

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