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Makan House – Food as common language, Dining as common spaces

Part 1 Project 2014
Joel Tay
National University of Singapore | Singapore
The idea of cohousing, where a multigenerational family lives together as a community composed of private homes supplemented by shared facilities, is not exactly a foreign concept or a farfetched idea. In my opinion, it is just like 365 days of Chinese New Year’s eve reunion dinner (or Thanksgiving dinner), where the whole family gathers together in one household.

With food being an integral part of Singapore society, and food being a basis for relationships to be built upon, it makes sense to design the cohousing unit around the dining room. The idea is to build the cohousing unit around the dining room, both spatially and structurally. Spatially, the dining room is a double storey void surrounded by the living spaces, where openings are strategically placed to allow for visual, acoustic and olfactory connections to the dining room. Its importance is further accentuated by its location within the cohousing unit, scale and sequence of spaces. Each dining core is open to the top where every single dining room is connected by a continuous garden spiral, to allow for the possibility of interactions between inhabitants of different dining rooms (food as a common language).

Structurally, the cohousing unit is built around the dining core and the four columns, at its corners, that run straight through in the tower. The T-beams, radiating from the corners of the dining core, acts as the support for the cantilever as well as the kitchen tables. Together with the floor slabs, the roof/ garden spiral and the lift core, they form the permanent structural elements, while the remaining rooms, composed of partition walls, can be conceived of as boxes plugged into the main space frame, thus allowing for potential growth and flexibility.

The future of Singapore is likely to be dominated an increasingly ageing population (and the problems associated with it such as neglect of the elderly), scarcity of land, and a society that is more connected yet less relational. How will architecture respond to these changes in the future? Makan House imagines a possible solution for housing in Singapore in the year 2050.

Joel Tay


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