Faith Lim Rui En
Culture Palace

Thesis Supervisor: Adrian Lai

Uncovering the discernible culturing at play in the building up of a citizenry, Culture Palace is a thesis proposing to make explicit the implicit culturing of ministries, policies and their consequent spaces. This overt instrumentality is itself the device employed to stage and seed independent choice and participation.

The thesis research takes us from the city centre civic district to the outskirt spaces of the everyman and the everyday - in the regional transport interchanges to the neighbourhood polyclinics - and back again at National Service (NS) Square near the mouth of Marina Bay in Singapore. The identified pattern of granularisation and extensification of the traditional museum and galleries is instrumentalised as a design strategy of creating extensive granularised components of the official program of the permanent gallery-cum-event structure of the NS Square.

Injected into the tightly-choreographed fabric to form part of the city stage set, its people, activities and spaces all take on a staged quality. Multiple readings and roles embedded within the city is used to create spaces to play out the belief that the ability to exercise agency and autonomy is important if a citizen is to participate in political life. Performance of the everyday is no longer merely leisure, recreational and artistic endeavour; sport is not just physical activity but is implicated as a staged spectacle and instrument of community-forming. Cultural Palace is proposed as such a permanent everyday-event structure.

Based on an initial exploration of the ‘third person’ of institutionalization as a necessary instrument of civilisation, this thesis focuses in particular on its cultural or culturing aspect. This focus came from the shifting prioritisation of different institutions in the growth of the city of Paris: beginning from the religious, intellectual powers of the cathedrals, universities and central train stations, it later shifted to a prioritization of cultural power. Through a spatialization of the imprisoned and schooling body, culturing is understood as a temporary transaction, the permission of approved behaviours in specific durations and time schedules, enforceable within the confines of the space and time.

Along with the positioning of other major cultural facilities in the city centre, the initial distribution of museums suggests a culturing that is in-situ and characterised by the monumental. Subsequent planning signalled patterns of extensification and granularisation: extensification being both the growing of the cultural ecosystem, as well as the welldecentralisation

adoption of cultural institutions & forms as means of extending the influence of the government and its ministries; and granularisation being the shift from the artefactual, historical and monumental to the emerging class of museums and galleries tucked away in office complexes, lobbies, polyclinics, in the heartlands.

The government’s recent announcement to include a gallery program as part of the redevelopment of the Float @ Marina Bay brings the culturing discussion back into the heart of the city. The city is enlisted in the space of national spectacle, in that there is the use of sites within the city centre as spaces of production, a certain stage set-ness, 

with key events (such as the National Day Parade, F1 Grand Prix, BMT Route March, State Funeral Procession) intentionally positioned within, and choreographed to reveal recurring actors, stages, and backdrops, with event participants both witnessing and forming the spectacle. 

The reinterpreted NS Square not just enables the culturing but makes explicit the instrumentality of sport, performance and daily life as targeted spaces of implicit culturing, making a spectacle out of this everyday inculcation.

 

It frames significant axes and view corridors, and lays bare the stage sets that are critical to the state, from the backdrops of the central business district to the colonial civic administration buildings, the Marina Bay future leisure, and the future Founders' Memorial. The proposal is itself incorporated into the spectacle, playing into the spectacle.

Production facilities form the core of this everyday-event structure, to accommodate the multiple ‘stages’ of the various possible events, festivities, sports, performances and everyday city life. This multiplicity of ‘stages’ sets up a series of actor-audience relationships, playing up the feeling of self-consciousness to speculate the possibility for an architecture of multiple participations.

 

Everyday events, festivals and activities of the recreational and cultural sort are inserted into the existing periods of disuse, accommodating not only to the large-scale, but also to the simultaneous smaller scale events and performances of the everyday, a landscape of perpetual pre-production, production and performance.

 

The tectonic of production facilities and construction is laid bare, creating an atmosphere of permanent flux and perpetual production, and a certain quality of make-believe - both a gallery to display the spectacle of the performance of the everyday, as well as a machine fuelling the production of the spectacle.

The government’s recent announcement to include a gallery program as part of the redevelopment of the Float @ Marina Bay brings the culturing discussion back into the heart of the city. The city is enlisted in the space of national spectacle, in that there is the use of sites within the city centre as spaces of production, a certain stage set-ness, 

with key events (such as the National Day Parade, F1 Grand Prix, BMT Route March, State Funeral Procession) intentionally positioned within, and choreographed to reveal recurring actors, stages, and backdrops, with event participants both witnessing and forming the spectacle. 

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