This research documents six important artifacts transformed and borne out of specific architectural discourses of the twentieth century. It includes the big roof, the linear core, the curtain wall, the green patch, the historic carcass and the pilotis deck. It will uncover alternative design histories of each of the artifacts through an analysis of its form, function and signification, with a focus on transnational and transcultural specificities. More than mere building components of architecture, these artifacts have undergone significant transformation, bearing witness to major upheavals in the social fabric and technological capabilities. These upheavals were augmented by trajectories of travel and communication between multiple territories. More importantly, it was during the latter half of the century, specifically the postcolonial period, when the world gained greater tolerance of cultural and regional distinctiveness in the practice of architecture. These differences and identities are only just beginning to reveal and assert themselves in new strands of histories.

By describing these building components as “artifacts,” this research underscores humanity’s aspiration in crafting architecture to respond to urgent questions of utility and the prevailing environment. To draw even closer to the study of such aspirations, methods in archaeology and anthropology will be used. As such, the city can often be described as an assemblage of divergent artifacts and built forms. The engagements with architecture described in this research range from the circulations of materials, construction methods, building codes, urban policies, and even utopian visions of architecture. These circulations can often be mapped through strategic agents of change, such as transfers of educational pedagogies, exhibitions, mass media, memberships of professional groups, and many others. This research will make visible the connections between the formal, functional and symbolic meanings of the artifacts through the redrawing of historical exemplars and atlases of hybrid forms.

Lectures & Conferences

Darren Zhou, "Architecture of Artifacts," at HKU Shanghai Study Center, Feb 1, 2018 [+]

Eunice Seng, “Architecture of Artifacts,” at Anthology Architecture and Design Festival 2017 – Context and Intent, Instituto Carvantes of Manila and Intramuros Administration, Manila, Mar 31 - Apr 2 2017


Eunice Seng, “Singapore and Utopia,” Para Site Public Program 5 x 7, 5 invitations with 7 guests; panelist for the discussion on urbanism and utopia with Associate Curator (Architecture and Design) at M+, Hong Kong, Nov. 10, 2015

Eunice Seng and H. Koon Wee, “Architecture of Artifacts: Excerpts of a Diaspora Manifesto,” at Monash University, Melbourne, May 5, 2015; UTS, Sydney, May 6, 2015; Queensland University, Brisbane, May 7, 2015

Darren Zhou, “Architecture of Artifacts: Excerpts of a Diaspora Manifesto,” at Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University, May 5, 2015

Eunice Seng, "Artifact City: The things that should matter to architects, or how to stop worrying about the global," New Brave Worlds (Asia), Princeton School of Architecture 2012-13 Lecture Series, Mar 27, 2013

Eunice Seng and I-Shin Chow, “Partitions: HTPEP,” YouPrison Forum, Fondazione Sandretto Rebaudengo, Torino, Jul 2008.

Eunice Seng and H. Koon Wee, "Shanghai Assessed: six architectures of the city,” Asian Alterity: Architecture & urbanism through the lens of cultural studies, Asian Urban Lab Symposium, 2007 

Eunice Seng and H. Koon Wee, "Architecture and Operative Translation: Modern Program and Style,” Mobile City Workshop, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Mar 1-3, 2007.

Eunice Seng, I-Shin Chow and H. Koon Wee, “Operative Translation,” for the Emerging Architectural Design Practices Lecture Series, Singapore Institute of Architects, 2007

Eunice Seng, “Modern Architecture and Operative Translation,” College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, 2007

Eunice Seng and I-Shin Chow, “Operative Translation,” Guest Lecture Series, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, 2007

Eunice Seng, "sciSKEW & Operative Translation," Student Lecture Series, School of Architecture, Princeton University, Apr 2006

Eunice Seng and H. Koon Wee, "Working Manifestos," for the AsiaGSD Lecture Series “Specific Weights of Architecture: Asian Probes,” at the GSD, Harvard University, 2006

Eunice Seng, I-Shin Chow and H. Koon Wee, "Translation Cities Overload," ERA05: World Design Congress, Copenhagen, Sep 22-28, 2005


Publications
Eunice Seng, “Transnational Utopia: Diaspora as Creative Praxis,” in Singapore Dreaming: Managing Utopia, edited by H. Koon Wee & Jeremy Chia (Singapore: Asian Urban Lab, 2016), 146-165.

H. Koon Wee, “Shanghai as Method: Artifacts and the City,” in Crossing China: Land of the Rising Art Scene, edited by G. Goodrow (Cologne: DAAB, 2014), 130-145.

Eunice Seng and H. Koon Wee, “Shanghai Artifacts: The Reproduction of Nostalgia, or the Possibilities for a Design Culture.” In Collection of Essays on Asian Design Culture, edited by William Lim, 92-101, 134-135. Singapore: Select Publishing and AA Asia
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This research interrogates post-World War Two housing development in Asian cities. Intensive urbanization set the stage for the mobilization of women and migrant labor and the merging of public and private spheres. In Hong Kong and Singapore, the composite or mixed-use strata building embodies the historical tensions between city and home, public and private, colonial and Chinese, real and ideal, and masculine and feminine realms.  [+]
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This research examines how architecture and its practices shape and reshape the meanings of nature and space, the reciprocal relationship between green open space, and the formation of collective identities. These inform the design research focusing on applying sustainable methods in architecture through innovating design conventions such as site integration, building organization, and orientation to reinvigorate architectural design and planning. [+]
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This research project is an effort to trace the transnational formation of urban theories in various parts of post-war Asia. There was a unique moment in the development of national identity and national culture during the period of mass decolonization and globalization. This is an emergent scholarship aimed at stitching together fragmented accounts previously narrated from national centers of discourse. This research shows that the broad participation by multiple international actors and agencies pushed the national remit of each urban condition. [+]
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This research area emphasizes building up agency and citizen participation through architecture; and foregrounds the roles of buildings as important materials and spaces of urban life. The key research and curatorial question is: Can the opinions and actions of citizens be part of the production and alteration of the built environment in a highly controlled and professionalized field? [+]
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While cities have expelled industries in favor of high-yield and service-oriented land use, the factory and its organizational complex remain very much embedded in the city and its architecture. This historical and design research is further developed as a theory of the urban-industrial complex, revealing the organizational and productive nature of modern cities.  This complex evolved from how industry had inserted itself within the same framework of urban growth and social control. [+]