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Situating Domesticities in Architecture

  • Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore (map)

Tracing emerging trajectories

Organised by the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore
Funded by the National University of Singapore Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Seed Fund
Convenors: Lilian Chee, Simone Chung, Jessica Cook 

More than the terms ‘home’ and the ‘interior’, domesticity implicates gender, sexuality, labour, class, ethnicity and taste. It suggests certain productions – biological, material, psychological, social, and even national. It concerns the performative aspect of bodies in space – occupants, tenants, parents, grandparents, children, maids, architects, designers, builders, state-representatives. It also involves spatial practices which represent, reproduce, construct and govern these bodies. Its scope is wide-ranging, referring amongst others to ‘domestic sustenance’, ‘domestic affiliation’, ‘domestic comfort’ ‘domestic help’, or ‘domestic boundaries’.  This international workshop will bring together academics working to challenge the established notions of ‘domesticity’, ‘home’, ‘architecture’ and ‘space’, and re-interrogate the inherent relationships of these four tenets. Emphasizing aspects of domesticity and domestic spaces/ practices, it reconsiders the implications that recent national and/ or global changes bring to studies of home and rootedness related to a variety of disciplines including architecture, urban space and planning, geography, anthropology, landscape studies and ethnography. The workshop will discuss how these changing relationships affect disciplinary discourses, and their histories and theories. It aims to instigate the theorization of domestic spaces and ‘homes’ across diverse geographical, political and cultural boundaries and regions, suggesting that there are perhaps significant overlaps in our increasingly fragmented world.

We are interested in the politics and poetics of domestic space as these relate to: policies and protectionism, war and territorial conflict, economic liberalization, consumerism and consumption, colonization and decolonization, gender/race/ethnicity, migration, nation building, media culture, and technological developments in building processes and domestic products. How does domesticity allow us to negotiate these complex situations and processes while also thinking materially about the lived spaces that cultivate the seeds of self and society? What are the disciplinary implications of using domesticity as a critical lens  to look at home and identity? Do domestic material expressions contest or cross geopolitical boundaries? Can domestic cultures propose new architectural and spatial outcomes in relation to spatial typologies? Does domesticity provoke new methodologies for representing architectural histories and theories beyond conventional architectural representations of drawings and models as well as architect-driven intentions? How domesticity work as an apparatus of culture, often being made to stand for the very idea of culture, and of cultural difference?