The thesis is a critique on leisure becoming a new insidious form of labour in the contemporary culture of social media, thereby instigating a new form of societal decay. The project is an anti-thesis to the idealistic vision of the emancipation of labour posited by historians and theorists - that Man will evolve from Man the Maker to Man at Play, as society progresses away from labour with the aid of technology. Through design, the project eventually reveals the realities of the late-capitalist society, driven by social media phenomenon. In this society, social media exploits both the sensational and the mundane of leisure into images for marketing, thereby twisting and decaying the intentions of the ideal leisure society. Leisure and its peripherals, in this society, are merely a mode of production for images to spur the leisure economy, therefore subsuming itself in labour.
In the face of capitalism, the built proposition designs a new economy in the heart of the CBD, replacing the traditional office economy into one that is leisure-based. CBD towers are adapted into spaces that enable the flexible and “free” play of both conventional and extreme leisure programmes. The towers become ever-changing vertical amusement parks and manufacturing machines of leisure, collectively creating a Hyper-Leisure City-scape.
Thereafter, the project speculates a form of societal decay in the advent of capitalising leisure through its image. This ideal ecology of leisure is disrupted by the oversaturation of images. We as a society desire objects that are novel, exacerbated by the social media culture. There is a slow but sure normalising of hype and the sensational amongst the bombardment of sensational images, to the point death from leisure become tools of capitalism, sensationalised as marketing tools of the leisure economy.
Recent proliferation of social media developed an alternative economy where people trade their experiences instead of their products. Such an economy is not only advanced by influencers but also by charismatic figures and even by ubiquitous individuals. Proposing a comprehensive experiential field in the current business district in Singapore, the project explored how architecture accelerates a growth of the economy, while envisioning satirical future of such experiences. Mountain-bike-trails, bungy-jump-field and rock-climbing-walls mounted on the facades of skyscrapers, and the picturesque-gardens opening to the roofscape the district are constantly changed depending on various demands. The death and injury caused by the accidents are taken as part of heroic stories that are quickly consumed as spectacles. The project is a critical vision toward the virtual economy.
- Assoc. Prof. Tsuto Sakamoto
Tan Hong Xi, Clarence
Tan Hong Xi, Clarence