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Tidal Sanctuary | Redesigning the Rocky Shore at Labrador Park

DV3003 Spatial Design
AY19/20 Semester 1

In collaboration with Jiaman (https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/a160043

At the beginning of this assignment, we wanted to work on it as a continuation of our first wayfinding submission – which was to position Labrador Park as a convenient location for a variety of sensory experiences. Despite not being a very popular recreation space, Labrador has a rich natural and cultural heritage, containing both a nature reserve and the remnants of Fort Pasir Panjang, one of Singapore’s colonial wartime defences. We would also find out later on that Labrador is home to Singapore’s last stretch of pristine, untouched coastline along its Southern coast.

Target audience

Based on this, we decided on young families and their children as our target audience; Labrador Park could be a place for them to learn about a wide variety of topics, such as heritage and nature. Other users would consist of anglers using the jetty, as well as residents engaging in recreational activities and the working population from nearby commercial buildings.

Initial strategies

We decided to work on this project under two main strategies

  1. To pitch Labrador Park as a space to slow down and watch as nature changes
  2. That Labrador Park has untapped potential as an educational park – it is not just a park, but also a home to nature and others

Labrador Park is a space wherein many natural features are available for visitors to experience nature in a multisensory way – to touch, smell, see and hear. 

A space to slow down and watch as nature changes

In this project, we would like to encourage visitors to slow down and observe the changes and transformational forces of nature; these changes are slow and as transitory visitors, we often fail to recognise them.

Thus, there is potential to create opportunities for visitors to literally slow down, and observe the world around them. 

For this concept, we explored and derived inspiration from creative projects that embodied this concept of change and seasonality, as well as the need to slow down and observe the world around us.

Inspiration 1: Great Big Story “Recording the sounds of extinction” 

We felt that this project reminded us that humans inherently need contact with the natural world as this helps with their physical and emotional wellbeing. At the same time, nonphysical elements of a space are still important in defining its identity and what it does. 

Inspiration 2: 林子大了by YooYao

In this project, mechanical woodpeckers were built and programmed, thus creating a pattern of sounds in a forested space. We considered that this was an example of how sound could open up our awareness of the space and asked ourselves, could this be a way to get people to start noticing and appreciating the little details in our environment? Encouraging a sense of wonder and discovery could possibly provide intangible benefits in a fast paced environment such as Singapore’s.

Inspiration 3:  Sea Organ in Croatia

Other examples we looked at included the Zadar Sea Organ. Built as a stepped seawall and incorporating acoustic functions that resonated with the waves, it invites people to get close to the water and observe. People are encouraged to sit down and enjoy the acoustic effects as time passes; natural forces were harnessed and converted into a unique experience. 

We also studied a park project from China, where a physical sand and water feature embodied the idea of time passing as well. In that project, water is allowed to flow serendipitously through the sand feature. Nature and man both are able to sculpt the flow of water; this would’ve created a poetic/therapeutic experience, that reminded us of how interactivity could encourage people to slow down and observe how these phenomena change over time. 

Educational park

Revisiting our first assignment, we also wanted to retain this idea of learning and education in our placemaking phase as well and this was something we considered in the development for this project.

Initial design explorations

We explored the idea of a space where people could congregate in small communal spaces that surrounded a central feature, which could embody the idea of slowing down and observing the surroundings. 

One concept used the sand pit feature and modifying the terrain to provide spaces for park users.

 

Design proposal – Tidal Sanctuary

We decided to simplify our proposal for a more elegant solution, and focus on providing spaces on which users could build their own experience, yet tie in the idea of slowing down and observing changes in the environment.

By simplifying our proposal it also allowed us to focus and identify our goals for this project. 

Our main goals:

1. The idea of slowing down and observing the surroundings. 

  1. To bring the visitors closer to nature and not hinder the sensory experience nature provides. 3.To make the existing sights, sounds and textures of nature the main attraction in our space. (need edit)

 

Location and siting

In our proposal, we plan to utilise the Rocky Shore at Labrador Park as our placemaking site. Through our research, we found that Rocky Shore plays an important ecological role as it is the last 300m stretch of pristine coastline along Singapore’s southern coast. As a rocky tidal shore, it is also home to corals, crustaceans and other tidal marine life. 

The Rocky Shore is the final stretch of Singapore’s southern coastline yet to be modified by humanity

During our site visit, we felt that the existing structures, fences and barriers were hindering the view of the coast and it creates a visual and physical barrier between the visitors and nature, making it difficult for visitors to closely appreciate the importance of the Rocky Shore.

https://forum.fishingkaki.com/discussion/283856/labrador-park-jetty-reopened-to-the-public-today
https://forum.fishingkaki.com/discussion/283856/labrador-park-jetty-reopened-to-the-public-today

 

What we have learned is that the Rocky Shore used to be open to public visitors, but has since been fenced up to protect visitors from injury and to prevent damage to the wildlife; the stretch of Labrador Jetty closer to the shore has regulatory signage forbidding anglers from fishing in the waters, indicating the unique nature of the Rocky Shore. Furthermore, there isn’t much done to the coastal area, it is now just a green fence which give the space a very harsh and oppressive environment.

Development

We wanted to expose visitors to the importance of the rocky shore, by bringing the coastline closer to visitors; inspiration was taken from stepped seawalls, such as the example of the Zadar Sea Organ, and even the stepped walls of the Singapore River. Thus visitors, would be able to get closer to the sea to view the cyclical changes of the tides and how the Rocky Shore changes over time. 

Some exploratory illustrations were done to explore the various possible configurations of the space.

Illustration – Current scenario of the Rocky Shore

Exploring segmenting the space with sheltered pods; we felt this detracted from the simplicity and elegance we wanted from the space
Conveying the idea of the undulating waves through organic forms for the stepped seawall
Exploratory sketches – could we use a low wall as a barrier?
Quick renders to explore how to configure the steps – this created undulating coves and modified the terrain to provide for imaginative uses of the space
Inspiration for the use of undulating coves
Close to final form – however, the fence barrier still seemed a bit obtrusive

By bringing visitors closer to the shore, there was a risk of damage to the Rocky Shore, but we explored various ways to implement a softened barrier. We used sketches and 3D modelling to visualise this, but realised that these barriers were still quite rigid. After consultations, we decided on visual hints and standoff distances to create a safety barrier between the Tidal Sanctuary and the shore; this was implemented with a wide pebble strip that differs from the concrete we plan to use in the rest of the space.

To embody the undulating waves, we designed the steps of the space to vary and curve slightly, which creates spaces of various dimensions. This could cater to different group sizes and a wider range of activities in the Tidal Sanctuary. Organic undulating surfaces were also included to provide spaces for play and encourage exploration of the space. These could be used for play by children, while adult users could potentially use these as lounging and resting spaces.

CAD model snapshot of the pebble strip and undulating stepped seawall
Quick render to illustrate the standoff distance created by the wide pebble strip

Similar to the current scenario, we would propose that physical access to the Rocky Shore is allowed only for guided tours with park rangers. However, the broadened space would enable people to get closer to the waters without having to enter the shore.

Night experience

Labrador Park currently does not have much in terms of programming and activities for night time visitors, other than a cluster of BBQ pits for park users. Additionally, lighting is mostly functional, and doesn’t enhance the visitor’s experience. We wanted to extend the usable time of the Tidal Sanctuary into the night, by designing a lighting programme for the space.

Lights are proposed to be embedded into the stepped space and as individual spots in the curved areas. Strips of lights mimic the movement of the waves, as they travel from one end of the tidal Sanctuary to the other. Another group of lights are scattered around the Tidal Sanctuary and glow as if there were stars reflected in the waves. These lights would then be programmed with a breathing, flowing pattern, embodying the undulating waves and wind that surrounds Labrador Park, providing an alternative experience for visitors. 

3D rendering simulation of the night time experience

Safety lights will be placed near the water’s edge, to remind visitors to stay away for their safety.

Summary

In summary, the Tidal Sanctuary is a 

  • A place for visitors to slow down and enjoy the sensory experience. (We have made the existing sights, sounds and textures the main highlights of the space)
  • Step closer to the coast/nature of what Labrador Park can provide (View is not obstructed, people can sit nearer to the coast, encourages them to explore the coastal ground when the timing is right)
  • Softens the coast allowing a more gentle and inviting experience for the visitor.
  • Becomes a resting space for intimate conversations (The narrow curves for people to sit)
  • Becomes an activity space with a good view to enjoy (The wider curves for picnics, yoga etc) 
  • An attraction at night with delightful/magical light shows. 

Final visualisations

Field trip to Labrador Park

(work in progress!)

Team members:
Mok Jiaman
Quek Pin Yi

Our visit to the Labrador Park consisted of two parts. First, we gathered at Labrador Park MRT and made our way towards the park, blindfolded while being guided by our partner. This allowed us an intimate experience of how to utilise our senses (other than sight) to gain empathy of how other users perceive a space and participate in sensory ethnography – using our body and senses to understand an environment.

After this part, we explored the park to take note of its wayfinding and placemaking features.

See our slide deck recording our experiences here!

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1LDRIa1r6To7aCPZmq790_7kaUvvaGfvbVJ0VqRM5cyI/edit?usp=sharing

 

Zumthor – Atmospheres

Having read Atmospheres, I found that the most relevant part is when he mentioned how architecture collects different materials, and other objects, to create a space.

Looking at PD4 in retrospect, the curation of materials was very important as our project had the spatial experience as an important component.  The space is built by the materials, and hence the materials needed to be curated properly.

For example, there needed to be a certain softness and lightness in the ceiling detail as we proposed for the structure, such that it could move in the wind and provide a visual effect that the materials on their own would not be able to.

This reading seems to deal heavily with the sensory experience of a space, which is relevant as to our project – the senses help to create a certain expectation as to what a space can do. As we intended, the sensory triggers were meant to induce a certain emotion, and recognition of natural phenomena by artificial means.

With these sensory triggers in mind, it would help to create a unique identity for the space that we would go on to develop for the project

Fukusawa – Embodiment

This reading describes how a design needs to have a “soul”, which to me in essence means that the design should have an underlying meaning – such that aesthetic decisions are made on a conceptual basis, and not just for purely visual reasons.

With regards to this, I feel that beyond just including a soul in the design, the narrative or story being told should be told in a simple way. Thus, this soul should be clearly described using the simplest way possible. An overcomplicated concept is likely to lead to a complicated product, which could carry too many concepts which choke each other out, reducing the sum total in terms of the value of the design.

Clarity of concept would, in my opinion, build a better design.

Georges Perec – The Infra-Ordinary

In this reading, Georges Perec begins by talking about how day-to-day tragedies and major incidents affect us much more than the ordinary events of daily life. Perec was a French essayist and novelist who lived from 1936 to 1982. He then defines and describes the “infra-ordinary”, which he refers to as things, matters and occasions that are banal, habitual and common.

In relation to the studio project, I felt that the concept of the “infra-ordinary” somewhat relates to the idea of serendipity – in that these are moments that, while observed, or do occur, they are not anticipated. Thus, I would argue that a serendipitous occurrence can be classified as a subset of the “infra-ordinary”.

Extrapolating from this, one thing that I could relate this to was to the existence of “unnoticeable design” and this made this set of readings meaningful for me as “unnoticeable design” is something that I hold quite close in my practice as a designer in training.

Personally, I would define “unnoticeable design” as design that achieves its function without being overtly designed, such that it is able to work without being noticed. At a personal level, I admire design that achieves its purpose in such a way as it shows that the producer has managed to avoid placing too much emphasis on the intricacies of form and visuals but instead focused on allowing it to seamlessly function and achieve its aims.

OSS Gallery // DN1006 – Pin Yi

p r o j e c t

( o n e )

My name is PY and I am a birdkeeper

My name is QUEK PIN YI and I am a construction worker

My name is PIN YI and I am a police officer

My name is PY and I am a landscape architect

p r o j e c t

( t w o )

Revisiting the old textbooks of the 1970s-1980s period; combining these aesthetics with content relevant to Jalan Kayu and its surroundings, as well as a tribute to its heritage.

DN1006 – Assignment 2 – The Process

So I decided to base my new zine concept on the fact that not so long ago, there used to be a school in Jalan Kayu and of course, it was named Jalan Kayu Primary School.

Right at the start, I decided that I wanted to use a more retro style, which led me to look for imagery that I could emulate and adapt for my own zine.

I looked up old Singaporean school textbooks…

http://mothership.sg/wp-content/uploads/aws/mothershipfiles/Jonathan+Lim/20+nostalgic/CDIS+Workbook+1.jpg
https://remembersingapore.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/old-cdis-geography-textbooks.jpg?w=640&h=409

… old photos of Jalan Kayu and its environs……..

After that, I thought of a couple of potential concepts for the content of the zine itself:

  • A school publication, could be a yearbook…..
  • …or maybe a student’s handbook…….
  • …or it could be a sort of old school textbook that a student of the time would experience and use……

I decided to use the school textbook as the overall concept for my zine and to use the style of a simple English reading book for its content.

Some guidelines that I stuck to for this zine:

Colour scheme: A cheap colour scheme (i.e. greyscale content) with pastel colours of an 80s feel, not too clean nor minimalist

Typography: Slightly distorted by still simple serif typeface for the body text as if taken from an old textbook

Cover design: Emulate a 1980s Singaporean school textbook

Internal layout: Simple layout without too much variation, something not too modern

 

DN1006 – Assignment 2 – The Switch

Remember how I wanted to complete my zine using prata as the key theme from Jalan Kayu?

After spending days and weeks thinking and thinking and thinking and thinkinggggggg, I finally came to a decision that it felt a bit too frivolous and I wanted to do something a little more meaningful with regards to Jalan Kayu as a place.

With this notion, I went on to do more research on the place and found that there used to be a school in Jalan Kayu during its kampung days – Jalan Kayu Primary School.

Unfortunately, the school closed down in the 80s, so there I was, limited to online sources as the only place for me to glean something about it.

(You can find out more about the school yourself as its alumni have a Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/19956218133/)

I decided that this was a useful place to restart my investigation (with two weeks to go…) and went ahead with it…