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Title: HDB point blocks : object, representation and formal identity.
Authors: Boey, Timothy Chun Hoi.
Keywords: DRNTU::Visual arts and music::Photography
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: This project is a formalist approach to the study of building architecture. It aims to investigate the identity of public housing in Singapore through the lens based medium of photography. It is primarily concerned with the formal qualities of HDB blocks in Singapore and explores the use of photography as a representative medium. The work deals with the 'point block', a specific archetype of the HDB landscape. The project is an investigation into the object, representation and formal identity within the analysis of these HDB point blocks. As a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development, the Housing Development Board (HDB) oversees the planning and design of all public houses in Singapore. The HDB is thus not only responsible for defining the urban landscape but also functions to serve broader governmental interests, in building cohesive communities. Implicit to the function of public housing is that of social economic control, that is applied through a range of policies and measures which often affect eligibility of housing and pricing. The HDB exists not for the singular purpose of providing a critical commodity in the form of affordable housing but as part of a system which governs the function of this nation. HDB houses should therefore be thought of as physical manifestations of ideology that represent an underlying need for conformity and control. It is a condition best described by architect, Rem Koolhaas, in his reference to Singapore's building plans as that or an "urban laboratory'. The argument of the HDB and that of its building plans and polices cannot however be reduced to that of an experiment. While the implications of such critical ideology might seem dehumanizing to the observer but the familiarity of the HDB environment has also fostered an idea of a shared history and common identity within the Singapore community. With over 80% of the Singaporean population living in HDB houses, it remains a recognizable feature of home that can evoke a sense of community. It is impossible to detach the physical form of these HDB blocks from its many associations with the sense of the familiarity and attachment that has become part of the perceptual identity amongst Singaporeans. These perceptions are subjective concerns which do not necessarily exist within the architectural forms of these HDB blocks. From a formalist point of view, such an understanding of these issues and sentiments require external knowledge or experiences that cannot be strictly conveyed through form alone. The intention is to follow a formalist approach which defines the object alone as the sole focus, independent of its subjective qualities. The process of objectification detaches an object from its actual physical form by disassociating its context. By looking at these forms as objects, we can define its formal identity which becomes the basis for which the representation within the work aims to explore.
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:ADM Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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