The Garden of Encounter
Urban matchmaking markets and the cultural moniker of “leftover women” reveal a peculiar marriage pressure faced by young women in China today, which is rooted in both political causes and Chinese cultural backgrounds.
Addressing a women’s lack of autonomy towards love and critiquing the utilitarian attitude towards marriage, the project explores the role of architecture in creating settings for genuine and intimate encounters in the city of Beijing. Sited at major subway stations in Beijing, the project examines the overlooked events and encounters of the commute and re-imagines daily transit routines into opportunities for romantic encounters. Recognizing Beijing’s current ground environment designed for traffic and efficiency, I envision a new typology of a garden in the air above existing subway stations. Inspired by tactics of garden design in traditional Chinese literati gardens, the project aims to create moments of intimacy, connection and romance within an undesirable urban context.
Encounter, Romance, Intimacy, Constructed Landscape
This thesis is a narrative about a place where a Chinese woman can exercise her autonomy for deciding about her romance journey. It is a critical and witty reaction to the bizarre and contrived nature of match-making efforts in the anxious contemporary Chinese society. It engages the pertinent drivers by representing them as a composition of counterpoints – self and society, fantasy and realization, virtual and physical, traditional values and contemporary spirit, personal beliefs and cultural myths, sentiment and commercial intent. The value of this architectural outcome is an invention of a breath-taking public place suspended over an unforgiving network of highways, escaping from its traffic din, at the same time harnessing its night for the mesmerising scene of moving lights to be admired from above. Architecture becomes a satirical backdrop for a social commentary.
- Assoc. Prof. Cheah Kok Ming