Program: Collective Living / Working Factory
Site: Toh Guan, Industrial Estate
The architecture of the factory is far from dead. Building on its industrial past, the factory is now widely celebrated as an important spatial product that supports the knowledge and creative economy. The unpredictable nature of contemporary work processes and the increase blurring of boundaries between living and working activities necessitate a flexible framework that can accommodate multiple configurations and possibilities. As a result, the typology of the open-plan factory has been co-opted as a possible solution, which can be widely seen in the trend of startups colonizing warehouses and technology giants building new campuses that resemble ateliers rather than offices.
Singapore boasts of a rich taxonomy of industrial spaces that have evolved over the years to suit the changing needs of the economy. From past low-rise landed factories to more recent ramp-up complexes, the design of industrial spaces has been aimed at optimising land use and functional productivity.
However, going beyond recent technological and programmatic innovations – such as the Cluster Industrial Complex with Megahoist and introduction of leisure spaces in new light industrial developments – this design studio looked at the larger economic and urban implications of industrial space design and development through the scale of architecture.
In particular, the studio was interested in rethinking forms of architecture and sustainable environmental systems that would allow collective living and working to take place. Going beyond functional performance as a design prerequisite, the studio addressed the larger socio-economic effects of coexisting together and managing environmental systems through the students’ proposals.