The ‘Void' Is Not Empty: Space, Culture and Materiality at Singapore's Void Deck

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Joy Qi Yi HO, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
The ‘void deck’ is a public space situated within Singapore’s high-rise apartments and is utilised by both residents and passers-by alike. This idiosyncratic feature of Singapore’s architectural landscape is arguably a ‘nexus’ between the initial vernacular kampong and subsequent high-rise housing. The proliferation and accessibility of the void deck enabled the space to be deeply embedded within the multicultural make up of Singapore, giving rise to a variety of personal narratives. This thesis aims to explore the material and ontological discourses present in the void deck.

The fieldwork was undertaken in Singapore and a spectrum of residential estates was chosen as sites for primary research. Primary research methods such as interviews and participant observation, coupled with literature review were used. These were supplemented with personal involvement in activities organized within the void deck – such as weddings, religious ceremonies and grassroots events.

Through the exploration of discourses involving the physical as well as ideological understanding of the void deck, this thesis contradicts the apparent ‘void-ness’ of the space – suggesting a paradoxical relationship between the ‘void’ and its adapted uses. Therefore, there are implicit connotations within the ostensible explicit ‘emptiness’ of the void deck, alluding to wider social, political and cultural phenomenon.