Samantha Chia

The Architecture of the Interior

Image: The ritual across the site

Ritual & Memory - Resisting the changing landscapes of Singapore

A small island-nation, Singapore’s lack of a hinterland to expand to has created the impression that continual land redevelopment is necessary for its pursuit of modernity. Meted out by the state, urban planning policy must consistently weigh the values of existing sites against their future potential, and in the process, unwittingly decide what stays and what is removed from Singapore’s nation-state narrative.

The project looks at an existing Hakka clan cemetery that has been excluded from this very narrative. Steadily edged out from its own land due to state planning, the cemetery faces the threat of its disappearance upon the end of its lease. The project thus seeks to re-establish the site’s relevance by reclaiming its purpose as a burial landscape, proposing a burial ritual that begins in the new extensions of the existing temple and culminates in a columbarium inserted around the existing gravestones. 

Building on the simple architectural gesture of creating walls, these acts of enclosure become an act of resistance, visually and literally reclaiming one’s territory, whilst provoking a recall of the lost notion of land through a ritual that extends through held ground. From the design of the object to the proposal of the architecture, this thesis hopes to position itself as an alternative model of urban development in Singapore.

More information

Master thesis (Repository)