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Revitalization of Ghost Fleet: Immortality Through Syntactical Transplantation

Part 2 Project 2014
Zhibin Zeng
National University of Singapore, Singapore
The lifespan of architectural designs, from excavation of raw materials to the disposal of demolition waste, is an exercise of artificial alteration to the self-sustaining cycle of nature. Such alteration is so brutal and primitive that it, in most of cases, is unconsciously designed to be a cradle-to-grave process. The economic, environmental and political dilemma caused by Ghost Fleet and land reclamation of Singapore is the manifestation of such tragic mind-set. This thesis aims to demonstrate the counter idea that design is viewed as a phase of continuous cycle of creation and recreation, plantation and transplantation.

Unlike sculpture, architecture is dualistic. Considering architecture linguistically, arrangement of physical elements, on one hand, is meaningless unless a relationship is established between the physical pattern and a function, on another hand. Despite precedents like medieval churches, the physical lives of most modern architecture exceed their functional lives. The irrelevance of the designed programme would make architecture literally nonsense, no matter how grammatically sound or tectonically poetic is it.

As a vindication, the mortality of some architectural programs is hardly predictable, nor is the invisible hand of free market sufficiently responsive to discourage corresponding typologies, especially in an age of technology explosion. Neither Kodak nor Nokia had foreseen their curtain calls. Thus, in a personal opinion, most of the contemporary attempts to design the decay of the built environment is no more than idealistic ambition, less operable in a chaotic realm.

It is rather a duty of present era, to transplant the decommissioned architectural syntax, to other under-expressed functional semantics. By such measure, their functional lives could be lengthened, avoiding unnecessary economic or environmental burden caused by recycling. The ultimate goal is that with repeated transplantation, the span of functional life, or more precisely, lives could be infinitely approaching its physical lifespan. In this project, the Ghost Fleet is transplanted to a new soul, Singapore’s creative industry.

Zhibin Zeng

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