Option Studio: Youth-Topia II
Instructor: Jackson Tan, Adib Jalal
Somerset and its surrounding malls were once the gathering spaces for youths – it was a hub for trend-chasers and trend-setters. Youths could express themselves freely through trend-chasing in these spaces, forming a community for themselves. However, with the technological paradigm shift redefining how youths interact with one another, trends are no longer bounded within the physical space but have transcended into the digital realm. Somerset is no longer able to sustain trends today and hence has become irrelevant.
In order to tackle this problem of trends Somerset faces, we first have to understand what a trend is. Referencing Kira Vermond’s children book ‘Trending: How and Why Stuff Gets Popular’, in contrast to a fad which refers to a short-term craze that eventually dies off, a trend is often sustained and consequently becomes part of our lifestyles. However, the creative expression of an individual and the accessibility to consume shared content amongst others form the foundations of what drives a viral trend. These possess immense potential for celebrating youth expression, forming large communities youths imparted their identities for – youth communities that Somerset has failed to create and sustain. With trends being consumed digitally now and old trends being lost to time, Somerset lacks the infrastructure to create and sustain a space for these trend-chasers and trend-setters.
Somerset today attract youth visitors with diverse yet disjointed activities instead, even though they posit an underlying common activity – eating. Evident in the rise of café-hopping culture and over-priced Instagram-able food, food trends are actively chased by the youths of Singapore. Moreover, due to the recent pandemic, food trends have only grown on social media platforms such as Tik Tok. From dalgona coffee to Starbucks secret recipes, these food trends present a low barrier to entry for youths to try trending food items out and even add to others’ creations, driving the virality of such content. #PaSarmeset hence taps on this phenomenon by using food as an anchor to create a safe space for youths to grow and sustain trends.
The proposal aims to plug in the gap between the past and future, creating a Trend Cycle to Archive Trends, Make Trends and Predict Trends. The relationship between past, present and future within the trend cycle creates a series of programs and systems that will sustain trends in Somerset.
The dichotomy between the Physical and Digital layers are mediated through the System layer, translating the exchange of information. Changes in the Physical Layer are sensed and documented within the Digital Layer as input data. The information is processed within the System layer, which will be reflected in the Physical Layer as output changes.
The flow information is a closed feedback loop, where the proposal is able to sense the changes in trends and respond accordingly.
A grid is laid over the site to test out possible areas of intervention in Somerset, avoiding obstructions such as existing buildings, trees and roads. Each grid cell measures the amount of shade received, distance from circulation and proximity to activities. The system assigns each parameter a value in the RGB scale, and the summation of the three parameters is a color. The system can then instantly locate areas of intervention and propose appropriate programs. The areas of intervention are identified as points where the seed can be planted.
The responsive nature of the project allows programs to adapt to the changing trends, and to grow with the growing trends.
The space matrix shows the relationship between programs and provides the logic for the system to place the appropriate programs in the grid cells.
The Supernode is the central space and program of the proposal. Celebrating creativity and experimentation as the core of creating trends, the Supernode forms the DIY Kitchen. The user is first greeted by the spectacle of an overhanging food vault and a network of mechanical arms, then places a DIY Food order. The food vault then dispenses and distributes ingredients accordingly to the different cooking booths. This presents an experience that has a low barrier to entry for experimentation with food so the user feels free to have fun and enjoy being creative. A safe space is hence created at #PaSarmeset as intended, similar to how easy and fuss-free content creation is key when starting trends in social media spaces.
The design of the DIY kitchen emulates how a conventional restaurant kitchen would work. The raw ingredients are stored in tubes and displayed in arrays at the top and the inner layers provide refrigeration using cooling coils. The cooking booths below are categorised by cooking operations such as grilling, frying, etc. The DIY Kitchen also features an air shaft at its core, adapting a hyperboloid form to create an efficient convection flow for air ventilation. The perforated panels of its bottom half allows for hot air to enter the air shaft and be ejected upwards to the external environment.
Kiosk + Desk
To create a multipurpose and permutable design, we have decided to utilize the donut sector as the base shape for the creation of different elements of spaces using the curves of the inner and the outer radius.
By taking leverage on a clamping mechanism and extendable tripod columns, the modules can be positioned and per-mutated according to the users’ needs. Additionally, with these designed collapsible mechanisms, the equipment can be kept neatly and transported as per needed during any expansion or changes.
This design is also supplemented by a regular grid that contains pipes that holds and functions for the transportation of electricity, exhaust, water, and waste across grids across adjacent grid cells.
The modules can be deployed to create a wide array of spaces that differ spatially according to the needs of the user. It allows for more private reflection spaces to open community spaces for the engagement of individuals for different programs stipulated for the space.
Tent + Balloon
Precedent studies of night markets and pop-up bazaars shows the high usage of tents. To create a fun environment for youths to clown around, the form of #Pasarmeset is a tent that carries the symbolism of fun, informal and spontaneity. With the adaptive nature of the tent, the form’s mobility is further enhanced with the use of helium balloons, which allows for horizontal and vertical movements.
The horizontal movement of the balloons allows the tent to adapt to the different spatial permutations curated by the system to follow the changing trends. The vertical movement creates spaces within the tent, some being more open while others more enclosed.
The cone casing houses the balloon’s mechanical system, such as solenoid valves which acts as gas thrusters for the horizontal movement of the balloons, to a winch that allows the balloon to anchor itself to the deck. The tent and balloon have a layer of solar cell fabric, which helps generate power to keep #Pasarmeset powered.
Putting the Supernode, Kiosk, Tent and Balloons together creates #PaSarmeset, a mobile and digitally adaptive space for trend chasing and trend making.
The installations in #Pasarmeset can gather data such as occupancy and recipes created in the Supernode, which is fed into the System, along with data mined from social media posts about #Pasarmeset.
LED lights embedded within the PTFE tent and projectors in the balloon can respond to the data mined and changing trends, creating an Instagrammable wayfinding and visual effects.
#PaSarmeset celebrates and encourages the creative youth expression that is born from trend-chasing and trend-setting, allowing youths to create their own communities at #PaSarmeset in the digital age.