Author : Kyra Swee Yew Yong

University : National University of Singapore

Status : MArch Preparatory year 1 (RIBA Part 1), 2016

Advisor : Alan Tay Shiaw Shih

Title : Taoist’s Death Rituals Re-invigoration | Columbarium in the community

Land is one of many precious resources gifted from Mother Earth.

In Singapore, it is the most limited resource.

This leads to an issue regarding the decency of settling the dead because land is primarily reserved for housing and transportation to serve the ever-growing population. In such conditions, traditional archetypes of rituals must be redefined as a new columbarium typology.

The proposed project site has a close proximity to housing developments, yet it is not too accessible. Thus, it allows for the community to determine their own level of physical contact with a space for the dead. Ultimately, an urban leftover space in between the Clementi housing estates and the Ayer-Rajah Expressway is selected for a re-imagination of a columbarium for the local Chinese Taoist demographic.

Architecturally, the building is derived from traditional Chinese tomb sweeping rituals and the analysis of local context. The design revives the ritualistic experience of tomb sweeping, something that was lost during the typological transformation from tomb to niche. Yet, due to the project geographically location, it does not compromise on the dead space that needs to be invisible from above ground. On the contrary, the columbarium tower can be as tall as it is seen from afar as the physical contact is limited.

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Kyra Swee Yew Yong_ The project was started as a mini- thesis as we have to define our own site in the entire housing estate which the site itself will address certain issues that related to dead settlement in the local context. Architecturally speaking, the project redefines the columbarium typology by using pure geometry and form to revive the lost Taoist's death rituals meaning in current columbarium typology.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
KSYY_ Graphic design. As a designer, especially in architecture, I think graphical presentation and communication take over an important portion of the entire design scheme. The mood and layout will somehow frame the perspective/idea that we intended to deliver for people who look at the scheme.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
KSYY_ Self- restraint. There are countless options and ways to achieve a scheme, but the best design solution has often achieved in the most pure and simplest way.

S//A : Describe your dream project
KSYY_ I always treat the next project as my dream project.