Today our culture and society is built around similarity and familiarity. We know what to expect everyday, what we are going to do, and who and what we are going to hear and see. Most of a daily activities are predetermined and planned out, without consciousness and we have become oblivious. Our days are busy and as a society we struggle to stop and take in our surroundings and the natural beauties of the world. Therefore, my formula for a ‘new urbanism’ aims to bring peoples attention to these natural beauties. I want to create a society in which everyone knows where the closest beach and natural area is to their main city and location. I believe it is important that everyone has a space where they can relax and be free. A calming environment without being surrounded by capitalism. A space where one is able to abandon everything and be in the moment and clear their minds. Growing up in Sydney I was always in an extremely close radius to different beaches and I would spend much time there throughout the winter and summer. Ivan Chtcheglov states in his “Formulary for a New Urbanism” that, “Darkness and obscurity are banished by artificial lighting, and the seasons by air conditioning”. Our world has become one of artificiality, we are constantly surrounded by an un-genuine man-made world forcing us to consume. People should have freedom to make up their own minds and be separate and be one with nature. Instead of creating man-made natural areas, which occurs a lot in today’s society, I want people to be aware of the beautiful natural areas that are so close to them that so many populations have no idea about. To be able to separate themselves and take time to contemplate their position within humanity. To realize what is important and understand the capitalism and manipulation, we as a population are witness to everyday.
My formula for a ‘new urbanism’ involves making the functional playable. To me, one of the greatest tragedies that befalls us as we age and get caught up in the day-to-day of capitalistic survival is the loss of our sense of play. Games are for ‘kids,’ unless they involve drinking or team building; games for adults apparently have to be either purely nonsensical or purely functional. I don’t see why they can’t be both. The ‘Playable City’ concept in Bristol is an example of how people can reclaim space, and make mundane objects like lamp posts and post boxes fun and interactive. I also like Chtcheglov’s idea of the construction of situations. Over the summer I was back in Singapore, where this new form of entertainment called ‘escape rooms’ has taken off. Basically, you go to one of these places (usually a small shophouse) and there are several different themed rooms with storylines. You and your friends are locked in a room (that usually contains other hidden rooms) or an apartment, and have to escape in an hour by solving puzzles and completing tasks related to the story. In one room, I was in a medieval castle, chained by my wrists to the ceiling in total darkness. In another, I was in a haunted apartment, searching for the missing family that lived there. The concept came from Japan, where they took the ‘escape the room’ computer/iphone games and turned them into real life games. It’s gotten really popular in Asia, and has started to spread in the States too. In my new urbanism, I’d like to take these games and make them city-wide. People would be yanked out of their routines and dropped into an entirely new narrative; they’d be forced to cooperate, connive, solve, escape and rescue in these situational hijacks. Cities would be spaces of production and utility, but also of play. — Tiffany Tay