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dc.contributor.authorYAP SHAN MING
dc.identifier.citationYAP SHAN MING (2012-01-12). THE MAN, HIS HOUSE AND THE CITY. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
dc.description.abstractAn image of Lee Kuan Yew’s house at 38 Oxley Road was revealed to the public early January 2011, along with the launch of his book Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going. The image shows an austere interior which one could easily mistake for a commoner’s home. Lee’s description of Chinese houses as spartan is fitting for his house, the pre‐war bungalow built in 1898 which he has settled down since 1945. This dissertation seeks to investigate the history and current state of the bungalow; it proposes that his home is a reflection of his frugal character, while the construction of the household parallels that of the modern state of Singapore. Conversely while they share similarity in certain ideologies of creation, this scarcely renovated bungalow, which Lee has stayed for 61 years, is a paradox to the constantly evolving Singapore. This dissertation further suggests that Lee’s frugal lifestyle and spartan interior is a highly crafted image of common austerity, which seeks to evoke the discernment of everydayness and banality. After Lee took post in 1959, instead of Sri Temasek House, Lee and Kwa persisted to stay put in the old rambling house for the children’s benefit. After Singapore’s separation from Malaysia, The security of the house was heightened with the installation of security devices and Ghurkhas post as sentries at the entrances. It is however contradictory for Lee with his exceptional status as the former Prime Minister, Senior Minister and Minister Mentor to lead a “normal” but heavily guarded life in a common neighbourhood. The interior appears to be ideologically free yet the austereness reveals latent anxiety and the repression of desires and freedom. Unlike the modern minimalist aesthetic, Lee’s interior is not of reduction, but an unremarkable interior crafted out of familiarity. Lee’s house has set the stage for him to experiment the construction of his ideal city of today. Despite being a pragmatist with little care for aesthetic, Lee’s house shows how he favours the colour white and lush vegetations: white is his representation of an uncorrupted self, while the lush vegetations around the house reflect his epitome of a garden city. Both in his home and the ruling of the country, he exercised control and comfort in order to achieve the “first world country” of his own definitions. The preceding state of Singapore was brutally demolished, the city was replaced with the cultivation of commons (i.e. blocks of HDBs, trees and vegetations, and etc), to equip the modern state with the qualitative aspects of the quantitative. Lee is proud to have fostered the city as a nanny state while Cherian George found the most appropriate description for Singapore as an ‘air-conditioned nation’. Lee divulged that, ‘When I am dead, demolished the house.’ His strong attachment to his house and the city is incontestable, yet his convictions to erase his personal traces in the future Singapore are in line with his ascetic self‐discipline. The man, his house and the city share the undeniable tie and memories: while the city continues to prosper, the fate of the house remains unknown…
dc.subjectDesign Track
dc.subjectErik Gerard L’Heureux
dc.subject2011/2012 DT
dc.subjectAir‐conditioned nation
dc.subjectFavouritism in white
dc.contributor.supervisorERIK GERARD L'HEUREUX
dc.description.degreeconferredMASTER OF ARCHITECTURE (M.ARCH)
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Restricted)

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