Beyond Multiple Choice
Beyond Multiple Choice offers an entryway into a novel mode of architecture practice in Singapore. This project seeks to question if civic engagement with residents can go beyond current limited approaches, such as multiple-choice polls for paint colour schemes on public housing facades. Singapore’s urban development occurs through the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and the Housing and Development Board (HDB), which have incredible power. Urban policies and transformations tend to happen to residents, rather than with them, due to opaque urban policies, and prescriptive master plans. The book entitled Toa Payoh: Our Kind of Neighbourhood (2000), is most evident of this process. A 40th anniversary publication by the HDB, the book documents stories by long-time residents of the New Town of Toa Payoh, and how their lives have been influenced by state-led visions of a modern, urban future. This book, which is central to my project, reflects how the architect in Singapore typically designs with the state as the client. Civic communities tend to play minor supporting roles, if at all, despite being the main users of the created public spaces and apartments. In response, I position myself as an architect, that seeks to mediate an alternate process of urban transformation, one that exists in agonism with the URA and HDB. I ask, can Toa Payoh resident’s lived space narratives shape the future of the estate? Toa Payoh is the oldest New Town planned by URA and HDB. In approximately 20 years, the first of the public housing blocks in Toa Payoh will reach year 70 of their 99-year leases, which is when the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) will begin. Around 2040, homeowners will vote to decide whether to return the housing before the lease runs out and resettle nearby, or to stay in place until the end of the lease. Beyond Multiple Choice mobilizes this multiple-choice moment in redevelopment towards more inclusive and diverse, old-New Town futures. I design inventive approaches to public housing, allowing residents a greater agency in shaping their lives and communal living, beyond that of the nuclear family unit. Drawing from spontaneity that I observed in the New Town, I show how certain parts of a ring road might be closed, and rezoned into a new open category, one that allows for communities’ shared ownership. Overall, I project a spontaneous urban future of Toa Payoh, through both practical and imaginative scenarios of how these transformations might play out.
The project Beyond Multiple Choice imagines a scenario for the redevelopment of Toa Payoh, Singapore. The thesis asks, how might architecture practice support and shape the spatial outcomes of participation? Learning from extensive fieldwork, archival research, and design exploration, the project rethinks both interior spaces and the public realm. Through the representation of existing collectivities, buildings, and household practices, Victor creatively explores how they might be reconfigured as future urban form. Central to the project is the deployment of unique lines of circulation that both reterritorialize redundant roads and bring together original publics.
- Senior Visiting Fellow, Victoria Jane Marshall (Dr.)
Ang Jee Kiat Victor
Ang Jee Kiat Victor