Critical Spatial Practice

03-FLATS (2014)
  • Lilian Chee | Singapore: National University of Singapore and 13 Little Pictures

  • 03-FLATS (2014), concept by Lilian Chee, directed by Yuan Bin Lei. Photograph: Y.B. Lei. 03-FLATS (2014), concept by Lilian Chee, directed by Yuan Bin Lei. Photograph: Y.B. Lei. 03-FLATS (2014), concept by Lilian Chee, directed by Yuan Bin Lei. Photograph: Y.B. Lei. 03-FLATS, Drawings, Lilian Chee, 2014.
  • 03-FLATS (2014)
  • Lilian Chee | Singapore: National University of Singapore and 13 Little Pictures
  • ‘…confrontational issues emanating from domesticity and gender can be communicated through an affective mode, … this route is methodologically strategic particularly within a conservative Asian context.’
    Lilian Chee, ‘Domesticity, gender, architecture: Locating an expanded field,’ in The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Architectural History, edited by Duanfang Lu (London: Routledge, forthcoming).

    Directed by Yuan Bin Lei.
    Concept by Lilian Chee

    The public housing policy in Singapore is pro-heteronormative family in its occupancy and composition. Singles cannot ballot for subsidized public housing units in Singapore but may purchase from the open market upon reaching the age of 35 years, coincidentally also the critical age for female biological fertility. With almost a third of the national population now choosing singlehood, the issue of preferential housing for nuclear families is a pressing one. Yet how does one contemplate the issues of social inclusion, spatial justice, and gender when the architectural discourse of nationalized public housing does not recognize these terms?  It is from within this academic impasse that 03-FLATS was conceptualized. Thinking through representational modes that would critically negotiate this blindspot as well as forefront unremarked voices of single women, the use of film challenges the epistemology and methodology of understanding public housing, through the granular framework of domesticity. The essay film – a collaboration with award-winning Singaporean filmmaker Lei Yuan Bin – revolves around the domestic lives of three single women homeowners, living alone in their flats. Edited from over two hundred hours of footage and eight months of filming, 03-FLATS is an affective portrait of public housing visualized from the interior lives of these flats and the women who co-produced these spaces.


    Lilian Chee is Associate Professor and Deputy Head at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore (NUS), where she co-leads the Research by Design Cluster. She is a writer, academic, designer, curator and award-winning educator who has lectured at the Bartlett, Delft, ETH, Melbourne University, Oxford University and the Berlage Centre. Her work is situated at the interdisciplinary intersections of architectural representation, gender and affect. The award-winning essay film about single women occupants in Singapore’s public housing 03-FLATS (2014), which she conceptualized and researched, has screened in 16 major cities and used in numerous university curricula. Her publications include the forthcoming monograph Architecture and Affect: Precarious Spaces (Routledge) and a co-edited volume Asian Cinema and The Use of Space (Routledge, 2015). Lilian is on the editorial boards of The Journal of Architecture, Architectural Theory Review, and Australian Feminist Studies, and on the advisory board of the Bloomsbury Architecture Library. She is an alumni of the Bartlett UCL, where she completed her PhD in Architectural History and Theory, and her MSc in Architectural History.


    I am invested in how architectural knowledge changes when it is reconsidered from the perspective of an affective encounter. Affect – the relational intensity connecting things, people and space – reframes how architecture is perceived and understood. Affective evidence – premised on site-specific encounters – may unpack architecture and spatial narratives particularly where there are obstacles including war, conflict, governmental embargoes, and censorship. One major strand of my research focuses on domesticity, an analytical category that differentiates itself from ‘housing’ and ‘home.’ My work explores how a representation of home that pays attention to domesticity’s granular evidence and gendered routines may politicize its discourse.

    Domesticity, gender, affect, Singapore, public housing, film


    Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975). [Film] Directed by Chantal Akerman, C. Belgium. 201 mins, colour.

    Martha Rosler, (1975). [Video] Semiotics of the Kitchen. 6.09 mins, black and white.  

    Simryn Gill, (2001). [Type C Chromogenic prints] Dalam. Series of 260 prints.


    See project website

    The film needs a password to view – please email

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