Youth‐Topia II

AY 2021 Term 6
Instructor: Jackson Tan, Adib Jalal


In early 2020, the placemaking masterplan to revitalise Somerset Belt area as a youth precinct within Orchard Road was revealed. It imagined a place that would support the aspirations of youths while catalysing new possibilities and interactions in the city. The precinct is to be a site where multifaceted online and offline lives of the youths can collide. New infrastructure and civic spaces would support and complement these lives existing within games, social, and messaging apps. Over time, gamut of youth narratives will unfold and layered across the precinct – creating dynamic spaces and places that are full of diversity, creativity, and authenticity.


10 June 1905

Suppose that time is not a quantity but a quality, like the luminescence of the night above the trees just when a rising moon has touched the treeline. Time exists, but it cannot be measured.

Pg. 141, Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman (2004)

Inspired by Alan Lightman’s seminar work Einstein’s Dreams, students are invited to imagine possibilities for selected sites in the Somerset precinct to become places for the unfolding of youth narratives. Time is to be used as the main design material and must be studied and manipulated to affect space, behaviour, and activities. Physical space and context must be also carefully considered as students seek to create civic spaces and venues for leisure, experimentation, creative expression, public programming, and education. Extension of the user experience is critical and blurring of physical design into digital space, either as places experienced through or augmented by devices is highly encouraged.

In addressing the brief, students will need to shape the ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ of the site to support urban and social life. The notion and manifestation of ‘architecture’ is to be challenged but careful considerations of functions, users, and operations are encouraged to arrive with schemes that are speculative yet plausible.


This is a studio that will explore and stretch the possibilities of ‘architecture’ to create spatial experiences and place narratives experienced by people across space and time. Students are to
operate as a modern‐day ‘digital native’ architect who are able to transcend, augment, and intersect the tangible IRL (In Real Life) realm and the intangible digital realm to create a richly layered
architectural proposal that is compelling and relevant for today’s Gen Zs.

With the design brief as a vehicle, students will be exposed to concepts from other fields such as placemaking, mobile technologies, game design, and creative writing, while integrating with architectural design techniques and approaches. This will culminate in the creation of a multiverse of omni‐channel, youth‐centred public spaces that can be experienced by the body or through a device.


Students are expected to create architectural schemes that display the following:

  • Imaginative conceptual thinking that is grounded by research, analysis, and critical thinking
  • Control and manipulation of materiality, proportions, light, and form to create spaces that supports relevant uses, programming, and rich spatial experiences
  • A sense of place/identity/character achieved through memorable experiences, social connections, and imageability
  • Sensitivity to context i.e. locality, culture, climate, time
  • Integration of tangible, visceral, and digital experiences
  • Concise and effective communication through architectural drawings, visualisations, and text


Part 1 ‐ A scaffold for stories (Week 1‐3, Group)

Students will work on developing a deeper understanding of the site and brief through a mix of desktop research, fieldwork, and precedent studies.

Concurrently, students will be acquainted with other techniques that can be drawn on for the project through:

  • Seminar on Placemaking
  • Seminar on Creative Writing / Narrative Writing / Fictional World‐building
  • Seminar on Game Design / Mobile technologies

The culmination of this section would be an outline narrative for respective sites from which individual schemes will developed in Part 2.

Pinup at end of Week 3: Site Analysis & Precedent Studies

Part 2 ‐ Storyboarding, Concept, Programmatic Development (Week 4‐6, Individual)

The outline narrative will be further developed by individual student and spun off into various interpretations and manifestations. The focus of this stage will be on establishing a firm concept and narrative for the scheme, deriving spatial sequences, parti diagrams, and functional requirements in a schematic design.

  • Seminar on time‐based design

Mid‐term review at end of Week 6: Concept Design

Part 3 – Narrative Integration (Week 8‐10, Group)

This stage of the studio will focus on integrating the individual narratives across the group members. Schemes will be refined to enable a coherent multiverse to emerge.

Interim Review at start of Week 11

Part 4 ‐ Detailed Design (Week 11‐14, Group)

The final stage will focus on refining the output of the earlier phase including looking at details such as materiality and functionality. Students will also begin the creation of architectural drawings and visualisations to communicate the scheme effectively.

Final Review at start of Week 14


Jackson Tan
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Jackson established design practice SPORES Studio in 2013 to explore the use of time-based design to construct new spatial experiences. The studio’s work includes a number of significant practice-led research projects in Europe and Asia, including exhibition design at the London Science Museum, Munich Fraunhofer Institute, Latvia RIXC Gallery and National Arts Museum of China. Prior to this, Jackson practiced architecture with renowned British firm Hopkins Architects for 7 years; working on multiple RIBA award-winning projects. Jackson trained as an architect at the National University of Singapore and the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) and is a registered architect with the UK Architects Registration Board since 2008.

Adib Jalal
Adiib is an urbanist whose work involves building connections between people and place, and breaking down complex urban issues for discussion and action. He is the creator of Urban Ideas, a project to share and enable ideas for better cities. Previously, he was the director of placemaking studio Shophouse & Co where he cocreated urban developments at various scales with a range of stakeholders. He also served as the Festival Director of Archifest in 2012 & 2013, and has held teaching positions at various tertiary design institutions. As a recognised name in his field, Adib is a World Cities Summit Young Leader, a Thought Leader in the PlacemakingX network, and is also serving on National Heritage Board’s Heritage Advisory Panel.


  • Cheryl Soh (Su Shiya)
  • Chung Kai Hern David
  • Ian Chung Enzhi
  • Keith Tan Yong Hui
  • Lim Shang Zhi Benjamin
  • Ryann Yeo Ren Ren
  • Saw Man Lin
  • Tay Hao Yang Mark
  • Valent Tan Wei Ren
  • Looi Siao Si
  • Ariyana Tiara Arnold
  • Mah Ying Ying Sheryl
  • Ling Chun Yi Andrea