Video Essay Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99HTXXm3enY
Title: Housing Estate: Our Collective Home
‘The unique privilege of architecture is not that it is guaranteeing a convenient void but that it is constructing an interior world.’ – Rudolf Arnheim
The housing estate is a single form that brings together homes. It is meant to connect houses with magnificent stories and experiences. However, since the housing estate is born out of a human need for survivability it is treated as rigid, robotic and geometric. Making it an amalgamation of opposites which culminates into a complex ‘Hybrid city’. The main theme of this video essay is to unpack this misunderstood ‘hybrid city’ by showing how our robotic needs of survivability ultimately make the artistic form and material of the housing estate. We will also explore how the pandemic has played a role in our perception of the housing estate.
An inspiration for this video essay is ‘Taipei Story’ (1985) by dir. Edward Yang. Despite being set in a concrete jungle, it takes on an apparitional quality by pivoting on events that never materialize on-screen. Inspiring from this, I aim to focus on how we are connected together by our daily needs from the housing estate. By accepting this truth we may romanticize our daily activities further spreading an optimistic outlook. This is especially important during the pandemic lockdown, as we all enclosed ourselves in our apartments. It is our housing estates that bring us all together by enforcing the idea that, ‘we are all alone, together’. The material of housing estates that are born out of our daily needs work as a reflection of this idea that was propagated during the pandemic.
Method of conducting research
In my video essay I mainly use the housing estates in ‘Discovery Bay’ and ‘Tung Chung’ as case studies. Discovery Bay is a residential development famous for its slow lifestyle whereas, Tung Chung is a developing residential city for young working families. The reason why I chose these places is that, despite being only 20 minutes away, they are vastly different because of the people that reside there. I used to live in Tung Chung while studying at a school in ‘Discovery Bay’. Going back to conduct research regarding materials used in both places widened my perspective regarding how I view the daily housing estates that tend to disappear from my peripheral view. Like Nezar AlSayyad in ‘Voyeuristic Modernity’ I adapted a voyeuristic approach by observing people and understanding their needs. Reflecting on this, I realize I have become more mindful of my surroundings.
I looked at aerial views of both housing estates through google maps to understand architectural forms. On the left is Tung Chung’s Yat Tung estate. On the right is Siena One estate.
After looking at multiple images it is clear that Discovery Bay relies on circular architecture in order to cut off the outside world while bringing together the inner community. Contrastingly, Tung Chung relies greatly on geometric lines and bridges to connect their moving residents to the outer world. Once these significant architectural ideas were established, I went to these places in-person in order to observe more specific aspects like color and pattern. I recorded close ups of isolated colors and patterns to discover how different the two estates are in an organized manner. I was also very mindful of the people present there in order to make the ultimate conclusion that there is a strong relationship between the people of the housing estate and the material of the housing estate.
Producing the video
I showed the dual nature of our perception of the housing estate by stating two contrasting statements at the beginning of the video: ‘Housing..a robotic means of survival..a living artistic wonder.’ These statements accompanied by a change in music and tone expresses ‘housing estate’ as a ‘hybrid city’. I also wanted to show the relationship between the needs of people and the function of the housing estates. Thus, I followed a question-and-answer format by first showing people’s needs and then showing how the housing estate has adapted to it. Such a format allows the viewer to clearly understand the aim of the video.
I ended the video by showing how amidst the pandemic we are connected by our daily needs which culminate into the material of our housing estates. By viewing housing estates as a collective home we may find ourselves intertwined with each other, spreading a positive message during times like these.
AlSayyad, N. (2006). Voyeuristic Modernity: the Lens, the Screen and the City. In Cinematic urbanism: A history of the modern from reel to real. New York: London: Routledge. (pp.147-168).
De Certeau, M. (1984). Walking in the City. In The Practice of Everyday Life, translated by Steven Randall. Berkeley: University of California Press. (pp. 91-110).
Chan, A. (n.d.). Taipei story: Modern planning. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/4628-taipei-story-modern-planning
Smith, R. A. (1993). Rudolf Arnheim: An International Bibliography of His Writings. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 27(4), 165–189. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3333509
Gallery of seaweed bay health resort / greyspace architecture design studio – 31. ArchDaily. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://www.archdaily.com/961235/seaweed-bay-health-resort-greyspace-architecture-design-studio/6093e4a4f91c81c309000103-seaweed-bay-health-resort-greyspace-architecture-design-studio-courtyard-number-7-axonometric
Abbas, M. A. (1997). Hong Kong: Culture and the politics of disappearance (pp. 63-90). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Leung P.-K. (2000). Urban Cinema and the Cultural identity of Hong Kong. In The Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity (pp. 227-51), edited by Fu, P. S. and Dresser, D. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Closed, D. and Exhibitions, C., (2022). Enter the New Global Modernism: On Edward Yang’s Taipei Story (1985) | Oklahoma City Museum of Art | OKCMOA. [online] Oklahoma City Museum of Art | OKCMOA. https://www.okcmoa.com/taipei-story/ [Accessed 15 May 2022].
Wojcik, P. R. (2018). What Makes the Apartment Complex? In Urban Living and Global Screen Cultures (pp. 1-20), edited by Wojcik, P. R. Durham: Duke University Press.
Boyer, C. (1992). The Imaginary Real World of CyberCities. In Assemblage (pp. 114-127). No. 18 (Aug.). Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Shreeya Lalit Shrimali, 3035842184