Monday, March 24, 2008

The Penguin Effect

No profound philosophical or architectural debate here, but I thought this was a rather straight-forward and easy-to-understand clip from National Geographic which demonstrate on strategies that architects use in building small spaces. It does bring out certain issues for further thought though. I was just thinking, Japan's really tight space constraints has resulted in many innovative solutions. The refinement of these solutions result in architecture that is often efficient, clever and almost appear effort-less. The Japanese designers have managed to take something challenging and turn them into opportunities. That is certainly something we can learn from in Singapore.

So far, our space constraints have mainly led us to the same typology of HDB blocks year after year. As competition for space increases, the only thing that has really changed, is the HDB block growing higher and expanding laterally into a screen. Time for a re-think? More like overdue. Why should landed property only be for semi-detached houses and the like? Would it work to have a cluster of Penguin Houses, which though small, make it affordable for more people who want an alternative to high-rise living? It's all about creativity and offering choices, no? Which brings me to another interesting thought. Notice how penguins who live in some of the coldest, harshest environments still manage to look mighty gentlemanly and sophisticated in their simple but almost designer-like black and white suit ensemble? Now, that's some creative designing for you!