From Fashion to Architecture: A Journey of Rediscovering the Cheongsam
The cheongsam is often associated with impressions of timeless elegance and refined beauty. However, these impressions are often soured by the misconception that one needs to have an hourglass figure to look good in a cheongsam. Yet, whether a cheongsam looks good on a woman depends on the tailors’ skills, not the woman’s body. Sadly, this bespoke craft element of the cheongsam is largely hidden underneath the fabric which perpetuates misconceptions, contributing to the steady decline of the cheongsam tailoring craft.
Hence, this thesis aims to create a new avenue of engagement for craft through drawing parallels between fashion and architecture. Located nearby the former San Shan Chinese School at Mount Sophia, the intervention is envisioned as a journey of rediscovery through the poche spaces of the site defined by the interaction between the continuous canopy and an undulating ground plane. By activating the poche space: architecture’s equivalent of fabric allowances, with interactive programmes based on traditional craft processes while doubling as the main circulation space, it aims to give opportunities for tailors and craft enthusiasts to interact.
Consequently, the poche space effectively ‘unearths’ the hidden, elusive nature of craft while giving visitors a literal and symbolic new perspective of craft from the other side (or underside) of the continuous canopy (the fabric) to rediscover and appreciate the typically unseen craft aspects. By blending traditional craft with a modern perspective, it hopefully gives traditional craft new life withstanding the test of time.
The research of Nadia into the cheongsam has uncovered the underlying structure and symbolism of the traditional dress. This serves as the design direction for a centre for upholding various craft traditions in Singapore. The use of the undulating landscape with functional elements embedded allows the flow of space to signify the importance of crafts in the continuum of tradition. The understated connection to the historic school has also helped to showcase the modernist architecture of the school.
- Prof. Ho Puay Peng (Dr.)
Nadia Quek Wei Si
Nadia Quek Wei Si