“Comparing the Singaporean and American Dreams: Cultural Constructs of Housing”, a Talk by Annie Koo, Fulbright Fellow, in March 2012

Date: March 23, Friday, 3-4:30

Venue: AS 7 Level 1 Executive Seminar Room

RSVP: If you would like to attend this talk, please RSVP to me with your full name, title, organization, and email.

Chair: A/P Bunnell, Geography Dept

Comparing the Singaporean and American Dreams: Cultural Constructs of Housing

Housing in Singapore defies the American private-house-on-lawn paradigm. Over 82 percent of Singaporeans live in public housing developed and managed by the state, and the high-rise flat, not the suburban home, dominates the Lion City’s dense landscape. In both political and physical terms, Singapore and the United States occupy opposite ends of the housing spectrum. Despite these polar conditions, the cultures surrounding American and Singaporean housing—the collective identities, tastes, and aspirations that validate their residential environs—bear uncanny resemblance. Annie Koo’s research aims to identify and unpack these shared constructs in order to work toward reciprocal housing policy lessons.

Annie will focus on the idealization of the traditional family in both political contexts. The narrative of the conventional family—the breadwinning father and nurturing mother with children—permeates both the American single-family home and the Singaporean high-rise. It is also structurally reinforced. Spatially, the American suburban home tends to preserve gender stereotypes by mandating time-intensive upkeep and segregating public from private life. In Singapore, state tenancy regulations clearly define and promote traditional family types. At this intersection of architecture, policy, and culture, Annie will examine the challenges confronting housing models in both the U.S. and Singapore and propose areas of mutual understanding as they seek to adapt to modern household demographics.

About the Speaker

Annie Koo is a 2011-2012 U.S. Fulbright Fellow based at the National University of Singapore FASS Cities Research Cluster. Annie previously held positions in Strategic Planning and the Commissioner’s Office at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the United States’ largest municipal developer of affordable housing. She has also worked at the U.S. Department of Justice and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, where she authored community development legal resources. She holds a B.A. in Architectural Studies from Brown University.

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