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?
This research culminated in a public educational festival hosted by the Singapore Institute of Architects in 2017. The festival was centered on the empowerment of people as active agents in the making of our built environment. Entitled "Building Agency", the Singapore Institute of Architecture’s Design Trust Committee appointed Eunice Seng and Koon Wee as Directors’ in recognition of their roles in research innovation, education, public empowerment and the profession. This festival was awarded an Industry Association Development Assistance (IADA) grant from the Design Singapore Council.
The festival presented over fifty public engagement events to capture every stakeholder of the built environment. Over 50,000 visitors were directly impacted by workshops, forums, exhibitions, debates, seminars, lectures, study trips for the general public and allied professionals, involving local museums, parks, schools, NGOs, societies, interest groups, municipal agencies and leading intelligentsia. Building Agency built upon the directors’ research since their 2015 study of the social-urban fabric in the Rail Corridor government proposal, and culminated in a number of research publications. The research had been presented in international lectures and workshops at International Studios Symposium, Seoul, University of Santo Tomas, Manila, the National University of Singapore, Meiji University, Tokyo, and University of Michigan.
Eunice Seng, The Resistant City: Histories, Maps and the Architecture of Development (London; Hong Kong; Singapore: World Scientific Press, 2020)
Eunice Seng, “Working Women and Architectural Work: Hong Kong, 1945-1985.” Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration, edited by A. I. Siddiqi and R. Lee. Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative (PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2022) (Forthcoming)
H. Koon Wee and Eunice Seng, "Building Agency", Archifest, Singapore Institute of Architects, 2017 [+]
H. Koon Wee and Eunice Seng, "Building Agency" Workshop, Anthology Architecture Festival, Manila, 2017
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. [+]
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. [+]
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. [+]
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. [+]
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. [+]