Interior Design School of Design Singapore

Shaun Huang

Your “Grandfather Space”


1. A Singaporean term used to describe a sense of ownership or behaving however way one wants or feels.

“Why do you cross the road without looking at the cars, do you think this is your grandfather’s road?”


This project aimed to investigate and discover the ideal ‘rights’ to public space, and began with the observation that public spaces are sometimes designed without reflecting on the way people used it.

The primary methodology used was a mix of observation and documentation, mainly focused on the people present in the public space. The project also took international, historic examples of public spaces seriously. The project was ultimately split into three phases that looked at two different sites: The first investigation took place in a neighbourhood area where people make spaces “home-like” in public. Then, the second and third investigations took place in the interior and exterior of a shopping mall in central Singapore, and considered the constraints inherent in designing for commercial spaces.

Click on link for full documentation of the project
The “Rights” to sit in your neighbourhood
The “Rights” to reclaim The City
The “Rights” to the City within

The “Rights” to sit in your neighbourhood

The first investigation will be located at a neighbourhood district as people will be less conservative. There will be more opportunities of capturing unscripted inhabitations of people making the public “home-like” for them.


Specifically, the first exploration aims to create an experience of homeliness and rights for the users inhabiting the space.

Unscripted Inhabitations

Posture of inhabitations

Possible seatings for inhabitation

Refining the details of the form

As some people don’t stay for long, this kind of seating is made for them with just a ledge to lean on and they can also charge their phone will waiting for their friends.

Final Outcome

It was intriguing to study the way the inhabitants sits in the public seating as it seems everyone have their own way of using the default sitting to achieve their optimum comfort. By sitting in a specific way also creates some form of private boundary.
To understand the inhabitants of the site inhabit and dwell, I tried to trace the way the sit, their posture, how they eat, how they inhabit the space and made themselves comfortable in the public space.
By keeping the stage, it allows an opportunity for public performances to bond the community
Bringing the wet market into the space as a place of trade was once a public space. Rails and bars will be inserted to hang the goods to be sold.
The final material used is the mosaic tile on the void deck seatings to create a sense of familarity and comfort for the inhabitants. This intervention aims to provide a home-like experience for the inhabitants with its curves that cater to different posture of sitting.

The “Rights” to reclaim The City

The second investigation will be located in the city district. This time other than understanding the “rights” of the people in the public space, I must also take into account of introducing an intervention that does not disrupt the commercial side of the space like the retail shops as the owners themselves paid rent and too have the “rights” to the space.

The second exploration aims to create an experience of freedom of using the public space in the buzzing city, at the same time incorporating an engaging shopping experience for the people and the owners.

Moving forward, much of the documentation of the people in the city may be domestic workers, however this project does not revolve designing for them but rather just studying the way they inhabit the city and ask why do we not inhabit it the same way? To clarify, this project is not targeted on any specific community in the city but rather the people of the city in general.

Lucky Plaza

The Street and the Shops

Inhabitations of the City

I went back to a similar approach as phase one where i traced and study the posture of the city inhabitants.
However, the city inhabits differently as I see a sense of overcrowding inhabitation.

Modules of inhabitations

A sketch of the potential outcome with the inhabitants using the space

The site chosen for this phase is Lucky Plaza as I felt the place had lost its “rights” of public inhabitation as shown there were signs placed around preventing the people to inhabit the public area. This may be due to the recent pandemic.
The whole stretch of the street level was documented from 1 -4 order. This is important as the shop placement, context (eg. clothes, food, etc) and vacancy will dictate the placement and context of the intervention later on.
It is amazing how the people of the city could fully utilised any structural elements as a form of inhabitation. One thing to look into will be this sense of overcrowding as space constraint is one of the factor of the city.
Therefore I used this technique of boxing to understand better the boundaries and space needed for this series of crowd inhabitations which derived off a case study from the Excrescent Utopia by Milo Ayden De Luca
The idea is not to box the people up but just to see what series of modules can be configured base on the postures.
Moving forward with the modules, it is explored on what it can be by becoming a platform, a frame, a block depending on the functionality and experience intended for the section of the street. I will look into applying and configuring the module with the shopping street photos documented at the start.
The installation for the street aims to provide both inhabitations and an engaging shopper experience for the inhabitants so that it is a win/win for both shop owners and inhabitants. However, this, failed in a way not being more subtle with its large frame like structure which can be further refined.

The “Rights” to the City within

The third investigation will be located inside city itself which in this case, inside Lucky Plaza itself. The idea being that malls with large atriums missed out on the opportunity for public inhabitations.

Specifically, the third exploration aims to create an experience of public inhabitations where the people and shops within the mall will have some form of connectivity and interaction. However, this phase will be rather speculated and conceptual.

Tay Kheng Soon, a veteran Singaporean architect designed People’s Park Complex with a large atrium with an idea of it being a “city room” where the people can inhabit. Similarly, Lucky Plaza have a large atrium with a miss opportunity of public inhabitations.
Due to the atrium being large vertically, it allows for an opportunity of vertical inhabitation in order to avoid disruption on the ground floor. On the left is a conceptual sketch of escalators connecting upwards showing a possible intervention in-between the atrium hanging.
As shown, the space seems to restrict public inhabitation, so what if the inhabitation takes place vertically?
The natural lighting of the space is a key element to preserve and should be used to enhanced as a spatial quality
This is a similar approach as the first two phases, however I felt that this would not work much as the main factor will still be the sunlight hence I will be exploring materiality and form through model making next.
The material should be porus so as to let light pass through, however ,the intervention should still be strategically placed as to allow as much sunlight to still be able to cast into the space.

The "Rights" to the City Room

Here is the final outcome which creates an experience of a vertical Piazza where the inhabitants will be on top and the watches will be below. The outcome is still rather speculated as it an inhabitation envision for possible atriums to come in the future. The practicality of this project is not thoroughly considered yet as there is only the intended experience and interaction developed.