gonggong is the visualization of the ageing architecture of Golden Mile Tower in comparison to the new tenants that re purpose the space for a new young crowd. The zine places both raw textures and texts that are sampled from the brutalist architecture alongside organic photographs that capture the energy and life of the new entertainment spaces. In combination they create a sense of abrasiveness that reflects on both the vibe of the building as well as the energy of the people inhabiting it.
The zine starts with an ambiguous signage referring to a carpark, where the independent cinema and outdoor bars are located. It sets a prelude to the other pages to come with it’s dull and cool colours, suggesting the exterior of a building or book.
The first spread features the interior space of the cinema. The zine follows a format where the untouched imaged is contrasted with the warped version. The warped version is accompanied with textures sampled from the building, with a mandarin text that rolls over them. I used the text to set a soundscape of the space. Throughout the whole level you can hear music leaking in through a door or booming right in front of you. The characters in the first spread sets a build up on the sounds that are occuring, , with this example the sound is creeping in similarly to the movement of a lift.
The middle spread plays acts as a crossing point for the warped images and the untouched ones. The texts are accompanied with a dog motif that heightens the energy through the colour and contrast. The texts “gong” when repeated at a loud volume mimics the sound of bass coming through the speakers. The loud and abrasive sound grows out of the frame as it grows larger and more textured. The mix of clean images and large distorted textured elements enhances the sense of discomfort caused by the music, crowd and sticky floors.
The third spread brings the viewer outdoors to the rooftop car park, where there’s a party going in a distance. The characters slowly diminish like a echoing cymbal as they grow smaller in scale. The use of blue and the night images brings the energy of the space down to a more calm mood. In this state the elements of the rust and decay the building has emerges from all the human activity that is occurring around the space.
The zine concludes with an original photograph of Golden Mile Tower. My approach for this project was to bring the user to the selected space via colours and abstract imagery of movement, therefore there are not much hints on what the building is throughout the spreads. This image brings a name to the abstract imagery that the readers have been following throughout the spread.
The unique selling point Golden Mile Tower to me is the contrast in ageing architecture with the new tenants that re-purpose the space for younger crowds. The zine should reflect the grime and deterioration of the building while also showing energy and warmth from the gigs that are held at the new event spaces that occupy the building.
I took reference to Miun and her works with Polaroid emulsion lifts for my art direction. I planned to use photos captured with a Polaroid to express the organic energy of the space, through long exposures that capture light streaks and movement.
The technique of overlapping the membrane-like Polaroid emulsions create this organic drapery around the frame of the image. I wanted to use this soft quality to represent the organic elements of the zine in comparison with the textures that will be sampled from the space itself. The texture of the images will thus enhance the element of life in them.
The emulsion lifts did not turn out as organic as i wanted them to be, some of them had cracks and tears that were not planned for. While trying to salvage the images i realized that the textures can be matched with textures that are found on the building itself. Not only does it reference the deterioration of the space, but also shows the fragility of new spaces.
To bring a narrative character into the zine, I decided to include sampled texts from the existing signs in the building. The letter forms and characters are unique to the space as they seem to not be touched since the 80s. The guard dog motif appears in multiple areas in the building, becoming an iconic irony of referring their own security guards as guard dogs.
Before I started my research on my location, I had to research on methods of research. Research methods are split into Primary research and Secondary Research. Primary research revolves around gathering new data via field research while Secondary research is to gather information that already exists.
Looking further into the various forms of research, there are qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data includes
Open ended surveys
In depth interviews
Contextual analysisOut of the various forms of qualitative data, I will be focusing on direct observation, participant observation and context analysis as it’ll be the most plausible methods within the current timeframe.Quantitive data on the other hand is data that is able to be quantified with numeric variables. Such data includes number of shops, human traffic, etc.The researcher’s stand on the location plays a big factor in the location research as we have different experiences and expectations entering the place. You need to take into consideration the biases of acknowledging if you are an insider or outsider of a space.
Before going to the actual site for observations, I set a few guidelines and questions for myself.
Who are the key subjects?
Where do you belong as a researcher?
What happens at a specific place and time?
When do things happen and are there an identifiable pattern?
Are there differences in personal assumptions of the place and if the “locals” agree in it?FIELD RESEARCH
I tasked myself to focus on the 5 senses and just take note on everything I observe on a Friday from morning till the late night through sound recordings, videos and written notes.
After observing the activities that occur throughout the day, I decided to split the activities based on different areas of the building. In summary, each area depicts a prominent activity that contributes to the space’s character and uniqueness.
Golden Mile Tower houses Star Transit, a coach service that provides daily shuttles from Singapore to KL or Johor. Their operations run from 0645 in the morning all the way to 2359 at midnight. Their busy periods run early in the morning, during dinner and towards the last few trips out of Singapore. The commuters that travel during the peak hours look like it’s a normal routine, often just carrying a backpack or a small luggage. There are very little expat tourists/backpackers contrary to my assumptions.
The spiral staircase is an iconic structure of Golden Mile Tower as it links the ground floor to the two main functioning theatres of the space, Carnival Cinemas and The Projector. Golden Mile Tower originally housed the theatres Golden 1, 2 and Golden Studio which are recently repurposed for new cinemas. Projector expanded their operations and included Intermission Bar that hold music gigs every other weekend. The patrons that attend stand out from the usually crowd as they head towards the lift that brings them straight to the cinema at level 5.
MAIN SHOPPING COMPLEX
Contrary to the general assumption that the complex is famous for it’s Thai Bars and Thai food, there are a very low percentage of Thai-related shops that occupy the building. The shops are inhabited by old tenants either running amulet shops or offices that are not open to the public. There are offices that are located from level 7 – 22 which are only 2/3 occupied. The activity of the shops can be describes by the smell throughout the day. The corridors in the morning have a strong incense smell as it grows to the smell of cooking food during lunch. In the evening there’s the stench of stagnant oil and frying meat that wafts around as the mookata restaurants begin to get crowded.
The rooftop is probably the most interesting to me as it features the ageing architecture of the space in contrast to the new establishments that are occupying it. With $3 flat parking after 5pm, it was a great place to just hang around while doing my research. Golden Mile Tower sits awkwardly in place with other oddly shaped buildings along Beach Road. The building features brutalist-like architecture with round corners and seem as if it’s made out of multiple modules. There are visible signs of age and detoriation when the walls are seen up close. The metal signs have rust and the concrete walls and floors have huge chunks missing from them. As the carpark act as an roof space, there is clear views of the Kallang basin and portions of the city skyline. The space is occupied at night by a bar which run parties mainly by expatriates. It gets crowded from 10pm onwards till late around 3am.
My selected data can be presented in the video below. They feature the sounds that occur at the respective timings across the day that enhances the experience and vibe of the area.
As Golden Mile Tower reaches it’s halfway mark of it’s 99 year old lease, there are attempts to reacquiring the land via enbloc. It brings forth the question of the sustainability of the new initiatives such as Projector and the rooftop bars. I find the unique selling point of the area the deterioration of the old architecture in contrast with the new tenants that are repurposing the space for a younger crowd.