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Still Life

Lee Man Rou, Natasha

- Adj. Asst. Prof. Tiah Nan Chyuan


Ten years have passed since my grandmother moved from where she used to live in Sin Ming. Today, she lives with us, with the family in Hougang. In these ten years, I am not entirely sure if she misses home, or if she has found home.

 This thesis follows a partly autobiographical approach, taking departure in my experiences of living with my grandparents as a child. The shift in living spaces and attachment to objects has led me to question the definitions of a home, and what forms this title. 


Where is your Home? Extending beyond a shelter and place of belonging, Home is one that allows for dwelling. Home, a place where we recall memories, activities, and daily routines whilst finding traces of our own identity. Within similar infrastructures and an array of commodities, the Home possess objects imbued with meanings different to each individual. While some objects exist as purely utilitarian, others hold meaning beyond their intended function. The home becomes a subtle reflection of its inhabitants and how they live within the space. Home as a structure, encompasses ideologies, practices, and material. Beyond a functional structure for shelter and protection, the home is a surrogate for, and extension of the body. 


Objects separate an empty space void of living, to a place embedded with a recollection of items reflecting each individual. Following the Infra-Ordinary by George Perec, this project examines an everydayness in objects and how they give meaning to a Home. At different scales, it looks at the home unit, building unit, and neighbourhood unit. It explores the main structures of what makes up a home defined by its objects, anchored by categories of memory, routine, identity, and social relationships. It is not simply a house that makes a home, but the occupants with their artefacts and traces deposited through time that add up to their individual lived experiences within a home. As the landscape for living changes with development, can objects dematerialise what a Home can be? Will retaining objects preserve the sense of Home at these three scales?

Supervisor's comments:

The thesis was a very personal journey to understand the meaning of objects and their role in defining a home. Detailed studies were done on the author’s grandmother’s flat and across similar housing types to understand underlying modalities of how memories and meanings attach to different objects. The speculation on how something so personal could be applied to the public realm,to trigger a similar sense of attachment was debatable–but that was exactly where the thesis attempts to unravel possibilities and alternative strategies to improve existing design of communal spaces, with the intent to build resilience in communities.

- Adj. Asst. Prof. Tiah Nan Chyuan
Lee Man Rou, Natasha