Somerset Living Room
Tay Boon Kiat & Simon-Kyle Rocknathan
The Somerset Living Room is a vibrant youth-centric public space project situated in the Youth Park site of MCCY’s Somerset Belt Masterplan. As a means of supplementing the plethora of programs surrounding the site, this project fills the gaping lack of public seating space in the area by creating a multitude of urban living rooms. Youth are invited to find a space of their own amongst a range of privacy levels, and meet their ‘neighbours’ with the cut-outs designed to promote intermingling through a variety of activities.
Modules with movable walls and plug-in furniture were designed to propagate the site and form unique, endlessly re-configurable ‘rooms’ to accommodate its users, creating ‘living rooms’ for anyone and everyone.
This project arose from a simple problem; while the Somerset area has a plethora of activities, from shopping to laser-tag, it is lacking in public spaces for youth to do what they do best – hang-out.
The mapping shows the handful of public hang-out spots versus the cafes, which come in abundance. While the food has its own allure, youth have limited disposable income, and eating in town tends to be more costly, which is why neighbourhood centres are gaining popularity. We decided to exploit this gap in the market, and supplement the numerous existing programs in the area.
“There’s NOWHERE to sit!”
40 Living Rooms
Why the Living Room? It’s the perfect every-space. It is flexible in its activities, it can accommodate groups of people, as well as people on their own. It’s also a space you can be yourself, and you can mould to suit your needs.
To begin designing this ‘public living room’, we studied a collection of 40 living rooms; images we’d obtained from friends and family. These images show the unique spaces people feel free to be themselves in. We broke them down into layouts, and categorized the different postures and focal points the subjects took in the images, as a means of figuring out what makes a living room.
The layouts break down the living rooms into six basic components: the walls, the windows, the TV, the coffee table, the sofa, and loose furniture.
The postures covered everything between lying down and standing up. Internal focal points refer to when the subjects’ attention was directed to the social group, while external would mean their attention was directed at a something outside of the people around them – usually the TV or their mobile phones.
In order to oblige the many unique layouts and postures, we decided to formulate a reconfigurable modular system. The living room layouts could be categorized by the number of walls they had. If ‘living rooms’ could be placed adjacent to each other, these three different categories are easily achieved.
But what if one of the walls could move? This gave rise to a module which could switch between categories, and, when coupled with other modules and outfitted with loose furniture, can give infinite possibilities of unique living rooms!
Cutouts and Activities
Further variation was pursued in the walls of the modules. Three different wall heights gave three different degrees of visual connection between adjacent ‘rooms’. Cutouts offered the opportunity for spontaneous interactions, and fun activities among groups of friends.
Propagation on Site
How the modules were placed in the Youth Park was first informed by the shading, as thermal comfort is another key aspect of good public seating. The shading was pixelated to the module dimensions, and turned into an articulated topography. A new proposed circulation, based off existing site circulation and a newly added scramble crossing, further refined the topography.
Modules accounted for the internal focal points of the living room – interactions amongst group. Four food kiosks and a performance stage were added to the site as external attractors. Finally, the modules were clustered along the site, with denser clusters towards the more active, Grange Rd end, and sparser clusters facing the quieter Devonshire Rd. Together, they form an exciting, dynamic public living room.