Along with the rest of the world, Singapore’s COVID-19 circuit breaker response included a clear and quick adoption of work-from-home. Suddenly, societies world-wide were confronted with unforeseen challenges and unexpected silver linings. In Singapore, home-based work (HBW) presents specific challenges particular to the high-density, high-rise environment that accounts for the majority of housing. Our city planning makes clear demarcations between spaces designed and zoned for work and those designed and zoned for living, where houses and housing estates have always been designed for unpaid home life, and not paid work.
How then does a resident furnish, use and service their home to shape the domestic environment for labour? What kind of and how many desks, laptops, and internet services suffice? In other words, what makes the home operable for work? Addressing these unanswered questions, the interdisciplinary team, comprising researchers from the NUS Department of Architecture, NUS Department of Communications and New Media, and the Yale-NUS College, meets this gap with an approach bridging the social sciences and design thinking. Linked across a range of government stakeholders including the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Housing and Development Board, the sprawling study spans a household survey, archival research, design documentation, a documentary film, and more, in the hopes of discovering how HBW is built into homes and neighbourhoods, and what it builds for them.