Study: Museum Space
The Jalan Besar neighbourhood is an old housing estate, on first glance soul-less and fading.
This study delves deeper into the formal spaces and initial impressions, looking deeper into the people who reside in the neighborhood for extended periods of time – the shop workers and residents. It speculates and hypothesises that such lifelessness is due to the unfulfilled ‘third space theory' that is required in community building. It then attempts to spatialise such third spaces for various protagonists of the neighbourhood, ultimately creating a folly that is a community museum to exhibit and create third spaces that are either existing, or lacking in my characters.
In the Third Space theory, there is an aim to fulfill all 3 spaces a human desires. The two usual social environments of home (first place), workplace (Second place) and a particular third place, which varies for each individual.
An innocuous back alley cobbler at Block 6 had a sense of purpose and awareness of community that was unfounded in majority of the neighborhood residents. His first space, the home, was a few blocks away from his second space, the back alley, and also coincided with his third space, which fulfilled all that he personally sought after — several aspects of composition and content of his vista are the underlying reasons behind his choice of workplace cum third place.
The space that the cobbler inhabited was made up of 2 forms of territorialism. Firstly, outwards, where others had a clear knowledge that it was his territory, and secondly, inward and innate, which is the cobbler’s awareness and choice of territory. These are made up of hard boundaries that will also serve convenience, necessities, as well as soft boundaries through his personal stories, habits and preferences.
The cobbler is an example of a protagonist and an audience of this museum. Targeted at the habitual users in the neighbourhood, the museum is located at the site lacking the intersections of innate domains derived from both physical necessities and emotive needs of such characters. The museum aims to emulate existing third spaces of the prominent characters, inspired by their territories that form different permutations with varying visibility and circulation, while concurrently seeking to create possible third spaces for other long-term residents and shopkeepers in the neighbourhood.
The community museum bridges the public to the Jln Besar community through understanding the transient elements of the neighbourhood that characterise its residents, workers and long-term users of the space.
It emphasises certain makeshift boundaries thresholds that hint at existence and territory; echoing the ability of the ephemeral material nature of the neighbourhood to be superseded by permanence.
2; third space
Through the analysis of vistas and innate domain of frequent characters of the neighbourhood, the underlying emotional domain of security of residents as well as the specificity of their vistas was prominent. As such, there was a need to find an overlap in these 2 factors of physical and emotional needs — a derived central site largely utilised by residents, surrounded by housing blocks.
Situating the museum at the crux of the emotive and physical domain of selected characters, the space preserves its original pockets of third space for residents, workers, long-term users, by leaving these spaces untouched. Instead, steel columns and frames act as a series of follies that work around areas like the playground, communal benches, back alley corridors, stimulating casual encounters for visitors to notice and understand the intangible essence of the neighbourhood and its people. These frames also vary in materiality and frequency, showcasing the hard and soft boundaries that characterise various third spaces; that lead users to set up their informal territories. Through a careful control of vistas and directionality through the museum, visitors are brought to be more aware of the character and rationale behind these informal spaces.