Samuel Tam

Borders & Territories

The Spying Den: A Testing Ground for Dualities

The project aims to envision a condition under which state intelligence and non-governmental investigative journalism exercise their seemingly dualistic functions on a vertical site. Its conception is rooted in a series of thematic studies of Monaco's public security system, which painted an all but dystopian and science-fiction picture of the micronation as a state of control where national spies and investigative journalists constantly kept its people under surveillance.


The intelligence base is modelled upon the panopticon. It is characterized by its self-contained character and mainly housed inside the rock, except for the topmost reinforced concrete outcrop which integrates itself physically and formally with the palace behind as a classical representation of power. Meanwhile, the journalist counterpart is oligoptic. It relies on individually fragile entities, which can complement each other and transform into a powerful whole. To reflect the ideology, each of its programs is scattered along the cliff surface as smaller external fragments linked up by a meandering path. Despite the seemingly great spatial disparity, the two groups share a number of informal facilities in a common area. The duality and co-existence observed are therefore seen as an opportunity to question the role of architecture in fostering extreme modes of operations and representing socio-political phenomena."