Wu Wen Wei
City of Autonomous Expression

Thesis Supervisor: Khoo Peng Beng

Critical State of Autonomy and its Empowerment through Architecture

Accruing social capital through autonomy, there is never a universal solution to architecture.  The thesis explores the social dimension of Architecture where shifting perspectives push the boundaries of what it means to be an Architect. The Architect can relinquish their powers as absolute designers and take on the roles of observer and advisor.


Aside from the tangibles that are classified as contextual knowledge, there are underlying social dynamics that are of great importance to the very notion of space and place. The concepts of autonomy and community are key providers of social capital in a system that allows Architecture to serve the people and provide a haven of happiness. 

Providing inhabitants with the capacity to effect change on their environment through autonomous means would serve to increase overall happiness and satisfaction with one’s immediate built environment as they incubate feelings of attachment and fulfil their tendency to attain self-actualization.


Exploiting the simple architectural grid to form complex systems was to allow laymen to gain an understanding of systems and holons that contribute to a building. A rigid system that births diversity and opportunity. Based on a homogenous typology that is receptive to change, the structural elements of the towers are at specific points and the rest is free space for the occupant to expound their creativity in making choices that create and curate their built environment.

Holland Village was chosen as a demonstrative site as it possessed a community that was unique and spanned across various demographic indicators, in addition to an urban context where the project could be exercised using different solutions to mitigate the current urban forms.

Aside from autonomy, community also has a large part to play in the embellishment of a place to live, work and play. It is thus crucial that our built environment, with its potential to influence and impact our wellbeing both physiologically and psychologically, becomes the vehicle and hardware for communities to interact and flourish.

Common spaces then become paramount in facilitating and fostering community. This is significantly dependent on individual cultures and preferences and thus require careful mitigation of different needs and wants of individuals in the community in the formulation of these spaces. 

Retail Streetscape

Using the cartesian grid and the structure as a base, the simplistic grid provides a black canvas for anyone to express and exercise their decisions. Retailers are given the freedom of expression and have the ability to choose the size and type of openings for each individual unit. With the ability to spill out of their units, the retailers participate in a system that enriches the overall environment, bringing life to the streetscape.

Customization down to the kind of furniture and programmes is presented in a kit of parts for the residents to choose from to include in the configuration of their homes, which is subjected to their individual needs and wants.


These options are not exhaustive as the opportunity for creativity in designing is endless and it is left up to the occupant to decide how they want their home to look like.


Residents would be given options for almost every aspect of design. With options that encompasses macro scale decisions like what community spaces they would like to have in proximity to their home, down to minute, micro scale decisions like what kind of furniture modules they would like in their home.