Youth‐Topia II

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Jackson Tan/Adib Jalal


In early 2020, the placemaking masterplan to revitalise Somerset Belt area as a youth precinct within Orchard Road was revealed. It imagined a place that would support the aspirations of youths while catalysing new possibilities and interactions in the city. The precinct is to be a site where multifaceted online and offline lives of the youths can collide. New infrastructure and civic spaces would support and complement these lives existing within games, social, and messaging apps. Over time, gamut of youth narratives will unfold and layered across the precinct – creating dynamic spaces and places that are full of diversity, creativity, and authenticity.


10 June 1905

Suppose that time is not a quantity but a quality, like the luminescence of the night above the trees just when a rising moon has touched the treeline. Time exists, but it cannot be measured.

Pg. 141, Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman (2004)

Inspired by Alan Lightman’s seminar work Einstein’s Dreams, students are invited to imagine possibilities for selected sites in the Somerset precinct to become places for the unfolding of youth narratives. Time is to be used as the main design material and must be studied and manipulated to affect space, behaviour, and activities. Physical space and context must be also carefully considered as students seek to create civic spaces and venues for leisure, experimentation, creative expression, public programming, and education. Extension of the user experience is critical and blurring of physical design into digital space, either as places experienced through or augmented by devices is highly encouraged.

In addressing the brief, students will need to shape the ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ of the site to support urban and social life. The notion and manifestation of ‘architecture’ is to be challenged but careful considerations of functions, users, and operations are encouraged to arrive with schemes that are speculative yet plausible.


This is a studio that will explore and stretch the possibilities of ‘architecture’ to create spatial experiences and place narratives experienced by people across space and time. Students are to
operate as a modern‐day ‘digital native’ architect who are able to transcend, augment, and intersect the tangible IRL (In Real Life) realm and the intangible digital realm to create a richly layered architectural proposal that is compelling and relevant for today’s Gen Zs.

With the design brief as a vehicle, students will be exposed to concepts from other fields such as placemaking, mobile technologies, game design, and creative writing, while integrating with architectural design techniques and approaches. This will culminate in the creation of a multiverse of omni‐channel, youth‐centred public spaces that can be experienced by the body or through a device.


Students are expected to create architectural schemes that display the following:

  • Imaginative conceptual thinking that is grounded by research, analysis, and critical thinking
  • Control and manipulation of materiality, proportions, light, and form to create spaces that supports relevant uses, programming, and rich spatial experiences
  • A sense of place/identity/character achieved through memorable experiences, social connections, and imageability
  • Sensitivity to context i.e. locality, culture, climate, time
  • Integration of tangible, visceral, and digital experiences
  • Concise and effective communication through architectural drawings, visualisations, and text


Part 1 ‐ A scaffold for stories (Week 1‐3, Individual)

Students will work on developing a deeper understanding of the site and brief through a mix of desktop research, fieldwork, and precedent studies.

Concurrently, students will be acquainted with other techniques that can be drawn on for the project through:

  • Seminar on Placemaking
  • Seminar on Creative Writing / Narrative Writing / Fictional World‐building
  • Seminar on time‐based design

The culmination of this section would be an outline narrative for respective sites from which individual schemes will developed in Part 2.

Pinup at end of Wk 3: Site Analysis & Precedent Studies

Part 2 ‐ Storyboarding, Concept, Programmatic Development (Week 4‐6, Individual)

The outline narrative will be further developed by individual student and spun off into various interpretations and manifestations. The focus of this stage will be on establishing a firm concept and narrative for the scheme, deriving spatial sequences, parti diagrams, and functional requirements in a schematic design.

  • Seminar on Game Design / Mobile technologies.

Mid‐term review at end of Wk 6: Concept Design

Part 3 – Narrative Integration (Week 8‐9, Group)

This stage of the studio will focus on integrating the individual narratives across the group members. Schemes will be refined to enable a coherent multiverse to emerge.

Interim Review at start of Wk 9

Part 4 ‐ Detailed Design (Week 10 ‐14, Group)

The final stage will focus on refining the output of the earlier phase including looking at details such as materiality and functionality. Students will also begin the creation of architectural drawings and visualisations to communicate the scheme effectively.

Final Review at start of Wk 14