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The construction of space is always obsessed with the interior and exterior qualities, but often lacks consideration for in-between spaces. Take for example, the office buildings in cities, where the edge condition is often one of two scenarios; either the two buildings abut each other without an interface, wall to wall, or, an alleyway occurs between the buildings, as remnant or leftover space that acts as a service road. It then comes to mind, that these alleyways, when combined, become spaces of transition between buildings and functions.

 

Does architecture have a bigger role to play in the considerations for such spaces that occur between the public and private realm, often not laid claim to by neither public nor private entities, leading to the often poor maintenance and inadequate uses designed for within such spaces?

 

SPACE AS A RELATIONSHIP

 

Space is a construct of relationships: the interior, exterior, and often forgotten, the in between. A boundary is often drawn to define a space, but in the real world, these boundaries often have gaps between boundaries of different entities, leading to the lack of resources to fully consider the potential of such spaces.

 

A relationship must have:

1. A number of parts which are to be connected.

2. A connection which must be logical, placing the elements into a single image.

3. An image which forms a whole, having greater meaning than the original elements.

 

Resulting from the relationship between inside and outside by connection, space becomes the image which forms the whole.

 

Space has the property of setting boundaries or limits to bodies within it and of preventing these bodies from becoming indefinitely large or small. Space is not a pure extension, lacking all qualities of force, but is rather a kind of primordial atmosphere, endowed with pressure and tension and bounded by the infinite void. (Brookes, 2012)

 

Space is also a continuous quantity: for the parts of a solid occupy a certain space, and these have a common boundary. Often boundaries cannot be shared comfortably as they fulfil different functions in the two adjacent areas. The boundary shapes will often create unequal conditions in the continuous surface or volumes and as a result different dynamics are created. (Arnheim R, 1977, p. 74)

 

Voids take place between these boundaries that are not shared, and then have a separate function from either boundary, in order to fulfill the transition from one boundary to the next. The void hence provides the opportunity for activity:

“We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house; And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.

Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognise the usefulness of what is not.” (Lo, 1986)

 

Within the context of Singapore’s public housing estates, these spaces occur in the everyday transition from home to work and school, and vice-versa. Public organizations take charge of such spaces, but users, residents of the estate, play a role in the future development of such spaces as well. Beyond considering the design of interior and exterior spaces within the flat, and then on the exterior facade and green spaces, authorities should then also begin to look at places of connection, and consider the potentials with which these can be used to motivate void deck communities into participatory action.

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References:

Lo, R. (1986). Between Two Worlds: The window and the relationship of inside to outside. Wellington, New Zealand.

Tse, L. (6th Century B.C.). Chapter 11 – On the usefulness of “nothing” . In L. Tse, Tao-te-ching.

Arnheim, R. (1977). The Dynamics of Architectural Form. Berkley, United States of America: University of California.

Brookes, Toni-Rose. (2012) INSIDE / OUTSIDE and the [inbetween]  Wellington, New Zealand : Victoria University of Wellington, School of Architecture