My thesis is about the architectural uncanny quality of architecture that is hidden in plain sight. Through unintentional systems of connectivity within architecture’s interstitial spaces, the building releases that which should be kept inside, delivering unseen influences between different parts of the building. This quality of architecture is the unintended result and side effect of normative operations carried out to construct a building. Hence, my project proposes to embrace this as a design driver, to speculate on and articulate the architectural uncanny that exists in modern buildings.
In modern architecture, especially highly interiorized and temperature-controlled buildings, most exterior walls, roof, interior floor, and partition walls consist of layered, multiplanar assemblies that contain numerous interstitial air gaps and voids. These structural assemblies are further punctured with chases and stuffed with services, wires, ductwork, and pipes. Layers of material are used to hermetically seal up these technical innards within unseen cavities. Thus, there is an unintended interconnectivity of cavities that contain other presences and flows such as moisture, air, sound, other living intruders, etc. to move 3-dimensionally in-between architecture. Walls, floors, and ceilings create enclosure, but due to how they are assembled, an interiorized network of gaps and cavities are created, spreading insidious influences that imply spatial presences beyond the wall. Manifested as stains or leakages of air, smells, sounds, the enclosure connects us to other movements and presences in the building. The enclosure becomes uncanny because it simultaneously separates but also connects. Situated within the Alexandra hospital compound, my project is a building with a geriatric centre and kindergarten, within which I speculate, augment, and make palpable these hidden and uncanny connections.
A preoccupation with ways in which buildings fail led Ying Ying to an uncovering of architectural constructions as a complex of interiorities and connectivities. These allow for unwanted intruders like water and sound, but at the same time provide opportunities for other kinds of intimacies and connections. What if building matter linked its inhabitants rather than separate? What if it allowed the signs of life—smells, sounds, air—within its walls, ceilings and floors to be communicated? The project explores these fascinating concerns by walking the line between the familiar and the uncanny, between designed effect and defect.- Assoc. Prof. Ong Ker Shing