MICHELLE TSE

Figures, Walls, and Sequences

"Similarly disperesed, porpous and commingled is private life. What distinguishes Naples from other large cities is something it has in common with the African kraal; each private attitude or act is permeated by streams of communal life. To exist, for the Northern European the most private affairs, is here, as in the kraal, a collective matter."        - Walter Benjamin

   The conception of this housing project began as a critique of the current housing ownership system. Rather than taking the value produced by real estate speculation as given, this project harnesses the economy of sharing and the social values embedded in it. This is not a new condition in the city, with the proliferation of co- working spaces, shared gardens, zip cars, etc. What is, like cars and work desks, some parts of the apartment is shared? Can we attempt to discover a new way of looking at modularity?
   We devised three levels of sharing within the building: personal, communal and collective. The three levels of sharing imply three degrees of control, intimacy, and density. By breaking down the conventional elements of an apartment unit and exploring the condition in which domestic spaces are shared among two to four households (communal space), we begin to create ambiguous conditions between public and private and the notion of property.
   The logic of the massing becomes a reaction to the conditions of the urban context, interacting with its surroundings using the interior’s tectonic languages.
   It is a condition similar to Walter Benjamin’s description of the porous environment in Naples, characterized by the inter-penetration between the public and private realm. Rhetorically Benjamin deploys words like theater and stage set in his description. Due to the nature of a fragmented interior, the subjective experience must be considered. Therefore, the comfort of the residents is established by seeing and being seen, control and being controlled.

Fall 2013
Mentor: Charles Eldred
Collaborator: Lily C. Wong
(project selected for archive)