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CHAPTER 4
The Pedagogical Contributions of the
Peripheral Spaces of Walks: Fort Canning
and Tiong Bahru
Adrian Kwek
Introduction
Spaces are peripheral by virtue of the fact that they exist alongside spaces
with main functions. The standing spaces of vantage and walking spaces
of galleries are spaces from which one is intended to experience the contents of another space. They are peripheral, yet have a main function.
They are peripheral because the contents in the space that is presented
from a vantage point or in a gallery take center stage in one’s experience,
while one is located at the vantage point or in the gallery. Yet, the spaces
of vantage and the galleries have the main function of presenting the
contents of the other space to the viewer. Paying attention to the spaces
of vantage and the galleries reveals features that can enhance or detract
from one’s experience of the contents of the presented spaces.
The content of a space can be presented for the purpose of teaching
about it. The spatial layout of such spaces, determined by the peripheral
spaces of vantage or galleries that present their contents, can contribute
to learning about the contents. Spatial layout can contribute to learning by mirroring the conceptual relations between contents, controlling
access to the material and by presenting the object that the information is about, giving the learner first-hand experience of the object. We
bring these considerations to bear on the spaces of vantage and galleries
offered by two walks in Singapore that were designed, at least partially,
with pedagogical intention: the fourteenth century Walk at Fort Canning
and the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail. Analyzing the layout of pedagogical
© The Author(s) 2017
T.W. Lim, Cultural Heritage and Peripheral Spaces in Singapore,
DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-4747-3_4
97
98 A. KWEK
content in these walks by considering how museum planners use spatial
configurations to implement pedagogical intentions, we assess the walks
for pedagogical value.
Types of Museum Spatial Layout
In this section, we discuss the implications of three types of museum spatial layout on pedagogy: sequential layout, gridded layout and hierarchical layout. The primary pedagogical benefit of a museum layout is that
visitors come into immediate perceptual contact with the object about
which information is conveyed. Being able to see the object from different angles and, in some cases, being able to feel the object lends concreteness to the otherwise abstract information describing the object.
The locating of information describing an object where that object can
be immediately perceived is pedagogically justified because the visitor has
their uptake of the information reified by perception of the object that
the information is about. We term the justification “in situ” justification:
information about an object receives in situ justification from (or, equivalently, “is in situ justified by”) being located where the object that it is
about can be immediately perceived.
Sequential Layout
A museum layout is sequential if it is designed with the intention of leading a visitor from one display to another in a fixed order.1 The displays
can be artifacts, text panels, dioramas, art pieces, places, organisms, and
so on. Displays are the particular objects that the museum curates and
exhibits.
A common instantiation of a sequential layout is a unidirectional passageway lined with displays. In moving along the space of the passageway, a visitor will arrive at each display in sequence. The peripheral space
in which the visitor moves is a gallery. The contents of the spaces that
a gallery presents are the displays and, possibly, accompanying signage.
For a space of displays where there is no discernible passageway or where
1 Kali Tzortzi, “Museum Building Design and Exhibition Layout”, Proceedings, 6th
International Space Syntax Symposium, Istanbul, 2007, pp. 72–74.
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 99
there are many passageways, a sequence can be stipulated by a map and
conceptually superimposed on the physical space.
The spatial sequence of sequential layouts can mirror the temporal
sequence of steps in a process, or a chronology of historical events.2
When the presented contents are the steps of a process or a chronology of events identified by a historical theme, the unidirectional spatial sequence reiterates the asymmetrical temporal sequence and serves
to reinforce the learning of the temporal sequence through another
modality.
The spatial sequence of sequential layouts can control access to displays.3
Sequential layouts encourage the movement of a visitor from one display to
the next, and this movement can be exploited to thin out crowding at displays. In turn, the thinning out of crowding at displays encourages deferring on-site discussions of displays until afterwards, when the object of the
discussion is remembered rather than perceived.
Gridded Layout
A museum layout is gridded if it contains displays for which there is no
predetermined sequence for visiting each display.4 Visitors are left on
their own to visit each display as they desire. The peripheral space in
which a visitor moves is also a gallery, but in the form of an open space, a
room or a hall, rather than a passageway.
For sequential layouts, a theme that requires sequential understanding is made known to the visitor in advance. In contrast, no such theme
is stipulated for gridded layouts. Gridded layouts mirror the absence of
a conceptual sequence structuring the meaning of the contents. This
encourages visitors to interpret the presentations of displays on their
2 Ibid., pp. 72–10 (elaborating on the “long-model2” set-up). See also the contrast
between sequential and constructivist exhibitions in Kali Tzortzi, “Spatial Concepts
in Museum Theory and Practice”, Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax
Symposium, 2015, 37: 3–4.
3 Layouts can have effects on visitor flow. For example, Tzortzi, “Spatial Concepts in
Museum Theory and Practice”, 37: 3–4, which observes that the “layout of displays, the
location of objects, and the vista, [define] the direction of visitor flow”.
4 Tzortzi, “Museum Building Design and Exhibition Layout”, 72–104.
100 A. KWEK
own, in turn fostering their own construction of the meaning of the
presentations.5
The spatial gridding of layouts can control access to displays. The
absence of direction of movement removes the pressure to move on to
the next display. Together with an absence of a movement-determining
passageway leading to the next display, visitors are free to gather at displays and discuss them on-site. Other visitors can choose to inspect other
displays while waiting for their turn as there is no prior mandate to visit
the displays in a certain order. They are free to walk past crowded displays and return to inspect them later.
Depending on pedagogical intentions, sequential and gridded layouts
can be combined. Spaces with a gridded layout can bud off from passageways with sequential layouts, when the pedagogical intention aims at
exploration and meaning construction of a particular sub-theme engendered by a stage in a process or an event in a chronology. Conversely,
spaces with a sequential layout can extrude from spaces with gridded
layouts when the pedagogical intention aims at presenting processes or
chronologies associated with certain displays, but where these displays
are not sequentially related to neighboring ones.
Hierarchical Layout
A museum layout is hierarchical if it presents classificatory relations
between displays.6 Classificatory relations are asymmetrical: something
being an instance of a type cannot itself be the type. In order to present
classificatory relations spatially, spaces containing displays should reflect
the asymmetry. This can be done in two ways: stipulating a sequential
path of visit from displays of greater to lesser generality or vice versa (but
not both), or proffering a vantage from which instances can be perceived
from a location presenting the type that the instances reflect.
5 Ibid.,
pp. 72–110 (the “short-model” set-up), 72–112 and 72–113.
pp. 72–108 give a more general characterization in terms of asymmetry of directional order only.
6 Ibid.,
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 101
A hierarchical layout can mirror classificatory relations.7 The classification can be processual, chronological or conceptual.8 Learning
about these relations is reinforced when the content is presented to the
museum visitor in a hierarchical layout.
Special Features of Walks as Museum Spaces
In this section, we discuss special features of walks as museum spaces.
We discuss how interpreting the peripheral spaces of walks in terms of
the three types of layout described draws our attention to these special
features, and how these special features may be exploited for pedagogical
purposes.
Walks exist against the backdrop of a plethora of features pertaining
to human activity: roads, buildings, parks, shopping malls, coffee shops,
schools, car parks, residential estates and so on. Among the items in the
backdrop are some that are united by an interesting theme. A walk is
an attempt, intentionally spatially, to unite items of a certain interesting
theme such that the items, as with displays in a museum, can be visited
on foot.
The backdrop of human activity features that walks are imposed
against can serve to constrain walks in three ways: they can impose a spatial order, they can exhibit multiple themes, and there can be main functions of the walk space that compete with the walk designer’s intention
for the walk space to be akin to the aisle of a gallery space.
Imposed Spatial Order
The backdrop of human activity can constrain the spatial order of a
walk. First, movement determinants such as a narrow foot path that
runs alongside several items marked as significant by the specification
of a walk can determine a sequential order, as opposed to gridded,
because there is simply no space to visit the items in an order other
than sequentially.
7 Kali
Tzortzi, “Spatial Concepts in Museum Theory and Practice”, Proceedings of the
10th International Space Syntax Symposium, 2015, 37: 4.
8 For a sophisticated example of how the spatial organization of a museum gallery can
reflect the conceptual difference between biological classifications as immutable or mutable, see John Peponis and Jenny Hedin, “The Layout of Theories in the Natural History
Museum”, 9H(3) (1982): 23.
102 A. KWEK
This can be exploited pedagogically for determining the visiting of
displays in a fixed sequence corresponding to a process or chronology
that is intended to be taught by the series of displays in question. It can
also be used to control the number of visitors per display, as the width of
the passageway would determine the number of people that can gather at
a display at any one time.
Second, obstacles such as mobility of referent, holistic apprehension,
or private property can constrain the proximity of viewer inspection from
display. An example of mobility of referent is fauna that is endemic to
that locale. Because animals move around, it is likely that the location of
the relevant signage (e.g. signage containing information about species
found in the vicinity) does not imply the perceivable proximity of the
signage’s referent (i.e. individuals of the species). An example of holistic apprehension is architectural styles that can only be perceived by perceiving the entire building. This fact already determines that one cannot
stand too near the building if one is to appreciate its architectural style.
Finally, some buildings are private property and breaching their outer
perimeters can count as trespassing.
The proximity constraint can be exploited pedagogically by having it
introduce a speculative element to the taught content. Since locations
near to the display item are not accessible, the visitor can be prompted
to imagine how things are there, given what they have been taught about
the display items in question.
Third, there can be locations along a walk where a scene is presented.
An array of display items is presented to the viewer with different relative positions to one another, which correspond, to various degrees, to
the spatial relations between actual items in the scenery. We call such a
scene a “vantage”. The most common presentation of a vantage is one
of a scene where an annotated outline diagram foregrounds the scene,
labeling items and locations of events in the scene that are significant
vis-à-vis a predetermined theme. The space occupied by the signage is
a peripheral space relative to the space occupied by the presented scene
to which the signage refers. Other examples are that of the observable
species of birds at a birdwatching location, or an overview of an activity from a location suitable for perceiving different stages of the activity.
The imposed spatial order here is a hierarchical one. From one location,
the visitor is apprehending different instances (stages) of the same type
(activity), where each instance occupies a different actual or possible
location in their field of vision.
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 103
Vantages can be pedagogically exploited by having them present summaries of processes, chronologies and taxonomic relations.9 Because such
summaries are shown to correspond to actual or possible spaces in the
visitor’s immediately perceivable vicinity, the summaries are imbued with
concreteness that would be absent if the processes, chronologies and taxonomic relations were only textually described.
Multiple Themes
Because walks are defined against a plethora of extant physical features of
human activity, a walk co-exists with many other potential walks that are
defined by other themes. This special feature of walks can be exploited
pedagogically by allowing for the presentation of interconnections
between themes, whether implicitly or explicitly. Where interconnections are implicit, visitors can be invited to construct meanings for themselves in identifying and appreciating cross-thematic connections. Where
interconnections are explicit, the linkages are experienced by the visitor
on the walk, bringing them out of abstraction for the visitor. There are
three sorts of pedagogically interesting cross-thematic connections, corresponding to the three higher levels of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy
for cognitive process: Analyze, Evaluate and Create.10
First, cross-thematic connections allow us to appreciate constituent
concepts of ideas when these concepts are compared or contrasted with
others of different themes. According to the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy,
analyzing is the action of “[b]reaking material into its constituent parts
and detecting how the parts relate to one another and to an overall
structure or purpose”.11 Cross-thematic connections allow for the comparison and contrast of concepts belonging to different themes, such that
component parts of an idea are better understood, and its organizational
structure is better understood, which results in a better grasp of the idea.
9 For a more sophisticated exploitation of vantages to nullify the dominance of temporal
sequence, see Tzortzi, “Spatial Concepts in Museum Theory and Practice”, 37: 10, on the
Acropolis: “But, while the display narrative stresses historical sequence, the spatial design
synchronizes time by […] creating vertical visual links across exhibition levels, including
through transparent floors”.
10 David R. Krathwohl, “A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview”, Theory into
Practice 41(4) (2002): 215.
11 Ibid.
104 A. KWEK
Second, cross-thematic connections allow us to evaluate ideas in comparison or contrast with related ideas of different themes. According to
the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, evaluating is the action of “[m]aking
judgments based on criteria and standards”.12 The availability of relevant connections with ideas of other themes can help a learner with
their evaluation of subject matter with which they are not familiar, and to
which they are unable to deploy the evaluative standards that they currently possess. If an idea from another theme is something with which
they have more familiarity than the subject matter that they are currently
prompted to evaluate, they can rely on analogous reasoning to arrive at
judgments about the current subject matter from their judgments about
the related idea.
Third, cross-thematic connections allow us to create content.
According to the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, creating is the action of
“[p]utting elements together to form a novel, coherent whole or make
an original product”.13 Cross-thematic connections, particularly of
a gridded layout, allow a visitor the autonomy to construct their own
meaning by association with related displays of different themes. A visitor
can also be guided so as to be more likely to construct certain meanings
rather than others at the intersection of sequential layouts.
Alternative Main Functions
Because walks are defined against a plethora of extant physical features
of human activity, a walk can utilize a space that is also fully or partially
utilized by other activities. The sharing of display space along a walk with
other activities can imbue it with characteristics that are pedagogically
exploitable. Activities can be categorized into those that involve the passage of people and those that involve the gathering of people. Each category can be exploited for its own pedagogical features.
Some activities involve the passage of people: they involve the movement of people over a certain distance. Examples of physical structures
that enable the passage of people include roads, cycling tracks, jogging
paths and footpaths. The number of viewers at a display along a passageway can be controlled when that passageway is also a jogging path.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 105
The need to accommodate the passage of joggers will result in a limited
number of viewers at the display at one time. This will, in turn, limit
the volume of information that can be taken up at a display. Voluminous
text will delay the onward movement of viewers and create a bottleneck.
Relatedly, if the passageway is also a unidirectional jogging path, visitors
will be urged to visit each display along the passageway in the direction
of the joggers. To go against the traffic of joggers is to the inconvenience
of both the viewer and joggers. This creates a strong sequential layout
and can be pedagogically exploited to mirror the sequence of a process
or a chronology.
Some activities involve the gathering of people. Examples of physical structures that enable the gathering of people include gazebos, rest
stops, spacious lookouts, vending machines and restrooms. Display
spaces that are shared with physical structures enabling the gathering of
people can be pedagogically exploited for opportunities to discuss the
displays, or for displays that require more time for appreciation—whether
it is because there are intricate details that take time to admire, or
because the signage for the display item presents a great deal of information to be imbibed. Structures that enable the gathering of people need
not only be exploited for the exchange of information about on-site displays. When located at strategic points or termini of sequential layouts,
they can be points at which visitors pause to discuss their experience of
the sequence. When located after gridded layouts, they can be points at
which visitors can compare and contrast their varied interpretations of
what they have just experienced.
In summary, walks can be analyzed with respect to the following characteristics in ways that are pedagogically useful:
•Layout
–Sequential
–Gridded
–Hierarchical
• Imposed spatial order
–Movement
–Obstacles
–Vantages
• Multiple themes
–Analyzing
–Evaluating
106 A. KWEK
–Creating
• Alternative main functions
– Passage of people
– Gathering of people
In the next part of this chapter, we will study two walks in Singapore
with respect to these characteristics and discuss the pedagogical insights
that the analyses yield.
Fort Canning’s 14th Century Walk
“Fort Canning” names a hill that has been the site of human activity
that was already flourishing in the fourteenth century. The site’s long
history results in its having a multitude of historically significant landmarks. It is also a park with many plants of botanical interest to laypersons because of their historical significance. Amidst the backdrop of
historically significant sites, landmarks, buildings and flora, Singapore’s
National Parks Board has delineated what they call a “DIY guided walk”
on pamphlets and signage in the park. In the introduction on the pamphlet, it is written:
As you embark on this trail, stroll back in time to the era of the five kings
and the golden age of fourteenth century Singapore. Visit the keramat that
shelters an ancient tomb. This tomb purportedly contains the remains of
the last ruler of pre-colonial Singapore. Explore the archaeological dig,
where several fourteenth century artefacts on display reveal evidence of
trading with Chinese merchants during that era. Stop at the interpretative
signboards that point out historic locations and intriguing information on
ancient Singapore.14
The intent is ostensibly pedagogical. The walk is designed to let a visitor learn about fourteenth-century Singapore by visiting locations that
contain items, sites and informative signs. Each location of significance
is numbered (H1 to H24) on the map given in the pamphlet and on the
14 National Parks Board, “A Guide to Singapore’s Ancient History Walking Trail at
Fort Canning Park”, accessed 6 March 2017, https://www.nparks.gov.sg/~/media/
nparks-real-content/learning/learning-journeys/guided-walks/diy-guided-walks/revisiting-history/diy-trail-guide--singapores-ancient-history-walking-trail.pdf?la=en.
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 107
signage. The numbered locations are situated alongside a footpath. The
order of H1 to H24 along the footpath suggests a sequential layout.
The Sequential Layout and Its Pedagogical Implications
The location numbered ‘H1’ contains a pair of informational signboards.
The one on the visitor’s left is entitled “The 14th Century Walk” and
serves as the initiating informational signboard of the walk. It gives a
brief history of the hill and its significance in the fourteenth century, stating that there was already a royal palace on the hill in 1330. The signboard on the visitor’s right is a magnified version of the map of the walk
that is found on the bottom of the left-hand signboard. This map is a
simplification of the map of Fort Canning; the items of interest to the
theme “The 14th Century Walk” H1 to H24 are highlighted, while
other features on the hill are kept to a minimum and are there to fix the
relative position of the walk. Each of H1 to H24 is informatively titled
(for example, “H10 The Royal Palace” and “H19 Singapore’s Golden
Age”) and is listed at the bottom of the map. Because the walk is superimposed on a prior existing landscape of human activity features and
landmarks that are not within the scope of interest of the walk’s theme,
the map is essential. It brings the 14th Century Walk into existence by
identifying its path and displays from among the plethora of features and
landmarks on Fort Canning. Without the walk map, the walk does not
exist (Fig. 4.1).
We can see from the sequence H1 to H24 that the layout of displays
along the walk is probably intended to be sequential. A spatial sequential
layout can be pedagogically intended as a mirror of conceptual sequences
such as that of a process or a chronology. More straightforwardly, items
can be in spatial sequence because that is where they are actually found.
If so, then the information-bearing signboard marking the site in question is in situ justified by the immediate perceptual presence of the object
that it is describing.
The conceptual relations between the items that are in sequence
are of more than one kind. Table 4.1 shows possible conceptual relations between items that are in sequence on the walk. It also states
where items are not conceptually related but have their positions in the
sequence by virtue of the fact that they are actually found there.
108 A. KWEK
Fig. 4.1 The pair of informational signboards at the beginning of the 14th
Century Walk
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 109
Table 4.1 Possible conceptual relations between items that are in sequence on
the walk
No.
Descriptive title
H1
The 14th Century Walk
H2
H3
H4
H5
H6
Comments on sequential relationa
H1 introduces and summarizes all the other Hs,
including H2. H1 is hierarchically more general
than is the case from H2 onwards
The Kings of 14th Century
H2 is an elaboration of one aspect of Singapore in
Singapore
the 14th century, and thus an item hierarchically
categorizable under H1. The spatial sequence of
H1 and H2 is hierarchical
Keramat Iskandar Shah
H3 is both hierarchically related to H2, as the
purported final resting place of one of the kings of
14th century Singapore, and also an on-site display,
in that the informational sign at H3 refers to the
actual spot of the purported tomb
Parameswara’s Retreat
H4 recounts a significant event in the life of the
king purportedly buried at H3 (Iskandar Shah was
also known as Parameswara). Chronologically, the
sequence H3 and H4 should be reversed. The spatial sequence is incongruent with the chronological
sequence
Longyamen (Dragon’s Tooth H5 describes a narrow passage of sea between
Strait)
Labrador Point and Sentosa, used extensively by
traders, which was documented by travelers in the
fourteenth century. That passage is now called the
“Keppel Straits”, and is about 2 km away. While the
relevance to the walk’s theme is evident, H5 bears
no sequential relation to H4 or H6 as a matter of
chronology. Furthermore, while H3 is in situ justified because of its on-site referent, the referent of
Longyamen 2 km away does not similarly justify the
position of H5
The Archaeological Dig and The archaeological dig is not an item of display.
Exhibition Area
Instead, the site is a gallery in itself, consisting
of the dig site with a mini-sequence of informational signboards and the exhibition consisting of
showcased artifacts and informational signboards.
H6 will be discussed more fully later in the chapter.
H5’s position is in situ justified because of its on-site
referent
(continued)
110 A. KWEK
Table 4.1 (continued)
No.
Descriptive title
Comments on sequential relationa
H7
14th Century Gold
Ornaments
H8
Ancient Garden
H9
Singapore and Java
The location of H7 after H6 does not mirror any
evident sequential relation, just the association of
gold ornaments as artifacts that may be discovered
at an archaeological dig. The relevance to the
theme is evident, however: the artifacts being gold
ornaments “wrought in the style consistent with
jewellery from the 14th century”.b This signage
would have been more justifiably located nearer to
the service reservoir, where it would receive in situ
justification by referring to where the gold ornaments were found (“Chinese labourers carrying out
excavation work at the Fort Canning Reservoir discovered gold ornaments hidden 10 feet (3 metres)
below the ground surface.”c)
While there is no sequential relation between H7
and H8 that is reflected by their spatial sequence,
H8 receives in situ justification, since the entire hill,
and hence the immediate environs of H8, used to
be populated by tropical fruit trees. The signage
reproduces the documentation of these trees by
John Crawfurd in a diary entry around about
4 February 1822
H9 does not have any conceptual sequential relation
to H8; neither does it have any in situ justification.
The content of the signboard gives very brief notes
about the political relationship between Singapore
and Java in the fourteenth century
There is no conceptual sequential relation mirrored
by the spatial sequence between H10 and H9. The
signage receives some in situ justification from the
reported fact (on the signage) that the “slopes of
the hill were landscaped to create terraces on which
the king’s dwellings and other buildings stood
overlooking the city below”.d This might include
the immediate environs of the signage
H10 The Royal Palace
(continued)
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 111
Table 4.1 (continued)
No.
Descriptive title
H11 Construction of the Palace
on the Forbidden Hill
H12 Parit Singapura
H13 Clashes with Siamese
Comments on sequential relationa
H11 elaborates on one aspect of the information
provided by H10. As such, the spatial sequence is
justifiable by the fact that the information provided
by H11 is hierarchically subsumable by the topic of
the royal palace on the hill.
On the walk after H11, one arrives at an extensive
comic strip panel detailing the historical events
surrounding the five kings of ancient Singapore.
This panel stands in a space off the walk’s footpath.
This space can be interpreted as a break from the
sequence of the items on the walk, and thus the
next item, H12, does not require justification by
conceptual sequential relation to H11
“Parit” is Malay for “moat”. While conceptual
sequential relation to H11 is not required, the
location of signage with this content at this point of
the walk seems arbitrary. The signage would receive
in situ justification from being located at Stamford
Canal/Stamford Road, where a wall was discovered
by the British in 1819, and which is speculated to
be the wall alongside which the moat ran, as this is
what is reported by the signage
H13 does not have conceptual sequential relation
to H12; neither does it have in situ justification for
its location. However, H13 details events that come
sequentially prior to those detailed by H4, since it
states that “decisive” attacks caused the ruler, who
later founded Malacca, to “abandon his kingdom
and flee for his life”. Hence, H13 should be placed
along the walk just before H4. Given that H3 is the
tomb of the aforementioned king, that location will
also give H13 in situ justification.
A little down the path from this signage stands
another space just off the path with a bench facing
a panel entitled “Pre-Colonial Singapore”. On this
panel are comic strip-styled sketches with captions
and titles that reflect some of the signs on the
walk—some yet to be covered. This area can, again,
be construed as a break in the progression of the
walk, removing the need for conceptual sequential
or in situ justification of the next informational sign
(continued)
112 A. KWEK
Table 4.1 (continued)
No.
Descriptive title
H14 14th Century Singapore
H15 Temasek, Singapore
and Singapura
H16 The Singapore Stone
H17 The Strongman of 14th
Century Singapore
H18 The Forbidden Spring
Comments on sequential relationa
Due to the break mentioned in relation to H13,
H14 does not require conceptual sequential
­justification for its position in the spatial sequence
after H13. H14 presents fourteenth-century
Singapore in terms of two settlements, Longyamen
and Banzu
There is no clear sequential connection between
H15 and H14. H15 states that ancient Singapore
was known as Temasek, and explains how the name
“Singapura” was derived. The derivation of the
name “Singapura” was an event in the life of the
first of the five kings. As such, this event could have
chronological sequential justification if located after
H2 and before H3
H16 does not bear any conceptual sequential relation to H15; neither does it have in situ justification. Its position in the walk’s sequence seems
arbitrary
H16 has a role in the events of the life of the person, the strong man Badang, to whom H17 relates.
According to the signage’s information, Badang was
appointed by Raja Muda as a “court warrior”.e This
relation to the life of one of the five kings of ancient
Singapore would suit H16 and H17 as part of a
chronological sequence if located early in the walk.
Since, chronologically, Raja Muda was the third
of the five kings, signage such as H16 and H17
related to his life would find sequential justification
if located before those of the last of the five kings,
Iskandar Shah (H3)
We next come to a signage about Pancur Larangan
(“Forbidden Spring”), which purportedly flowed
from “the west side of Fort Canning Hill”.f This
signage can have in situ justification as it is located
on the west side of Fort Canning Hill. This justification can be made explicit by including the location
of the signage in the description and by having a
directional legend on the map that is reproduced on
the bottom half of the signage
(continued)
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 113
Table 4.1 (continued)
No.
Descriptive title
H19 Singapore’s Golden Age
H20 The Decline of Singapore’s
First Golden Age
H21 Hang Tuah
H22 Singapore in the 16th
Century
H23 Singapore in the 17th
Century
H24 Ruins of ancient Singapore
Comments on sequential relationa
This signage is unrelated in conceptual sequence to
the previous signage and does not have in situ justification. It very briefly mentions that archaeological
evidence supports the claim made by local Malay
folklore that Singapore was a “prosperous port”
This signage receives conceptual sequential justification as it presents the events that chronologically
supersede those reported by H19. However, as the
text is about Iskandar Shah and H20 does not have
substantial matter about Singapore’s Golden Age,
the content receives more conceptual sequential
justification if presented on signage placed in
chronological sequence about Iskandar Shah’s life,
before his tomb
H21 does not have conceptual sequential relation
to H20; neither does it have in situ justification.
Its inclusion at that position in the walk’s sequence
seems arbitrary
This signage and the next seem out of place in a
walk that is named a “14th Century Walk”. H22,
however, receives conceptual sequential justification as it comes at the end of the walk, mirroring
the chronological sequence of the sixteenth century
coming after the fourteenth century
H23 receives conceptual sequential justification as
it comes after H22, mirroring the chronological
sequence of the seventeenth century coming after
the sixteenth century
H24 receives in situ justification as it is located on
the very site of the ruins
Note aThe table also states where items are not conceptually related but have their positions in the
sequence by virtue of the fact that they are actually found there
bNational Parks Board, “14th Century Gold Ornaments”, Fort Canning 14th Century Walk H7 Site
Signboard, n.d.
cIbid
dNational Parks Board, “The Royal Palace”, Fort Canning 14th Century Walk H10 Site Signboard, n.d.
eNational Parks Board, “The Strongman of 14th Century Singapore”, Fort Canning 14th Century Walk
H17 Site Signboard, n.d.
fNational Parks Board, “The Forbidden Spring”, Fort Canning 14th Century Walk H18 Site Signboard, n.d.
114 A. KWEK
Breaks in the Walk Sequence
At H6, after H11 and after H13, there are breaks in the continuity of
the spatial sequence of the 14th Century Walk. The break at H6 is different from the breaks at H11 and H13. While the break at H6 is an
extensive detour that has a sequential structure of its own that teaches
the elements of an archaeological dig and displays artifacts that were discovered on-site, the breaks after H11 and H13 contain straightforward
summaries, in the form of cartoon panels, of sub-themes of the walk
that are deemed important. The breaks after H11 and H13 double up as
gathering rest stops—the break after H13 even has a long curved bench
facing the cartoon panels, but the break after H6 has neither space nor
furnishing for gathering or rest (Figs. 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4).
H6, entitled “The Archaeological Dig and Exhibition Area”, marks
the location of an archaeological dig site, which is left as it was during
the dig. A series of informative signboards run along the sides of the dig
site and extend into an exhibition gallery behind the site. They are numbered continuously from 1 to 19; this suggests the intention that visitors
should pay attention to each signboard sequentially. The signboard H6
introduces the visitor to the facts about the dig site; for example, that
it was started by Dr John N. Miksic in 1984, how long it lasted, and its
relative location. It goes on to talk about other archaeological sites in
Singapore and what we can conclude about the unearthed artifacts.
A mini-sequence of signboards bud off from the signboard labelled
H6. They begin at the dig site commencing with information about
Singapore’s ancient history. The content of the sequence changes at
the exhibition passageway where artifacts, mostly pottery shards, are
displayed. The contents of the signs here refer to the displays and give
information about earthenware and ceramics of the periods to which the
displayed artifacts belong. After one emerges from the exhibition passageway, the walkway is at the opposite side of the archaeological dig,
and concerns the technical aspects of an archaeological dig, with topics
such as “Ceramics and Chronology”, “Stratigraphy: The Science of Soil
Layers” and “Archaeological Techniques” (Fig. 4.5).
The mini-sequential layout that buds off from H6 creates a break in
the main H sequence of the walk. This break is cognitively demanding
because it mirrors a sequence of going deeper into the topic introduced
by the signboard at H6. The entire mini-sequence is in situ justified—
either by the dig site itself, or the artifacts on display in the gallery
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … Fig. 4.2 The break at H6: The archaeological dig
115
116 A. KWEK
Fig. 4.3 The break after H11
behind it. The visitor is confronted by spaces that contain actual, concrete referents of the signage in the mini-sequence, reifying their uptake
of the information that the signboards seek to convey.
In contrast to the break from the main H sequence afforded at H6,
the breaks after H11 and H13 are straightforward spaces for the visitor
to rest, mingle with other visitors, or to recapitulate the various items
covered by the walk so far by means of the summarizing informative cartoon panels present in those spaces. The break after H11 is at the far
end of a paved clearing on the side of the walkway that leads to H12. It
requires a deviation from the walkway to enter, allowing for a crowd to
gather without obstructing the passage of visitors who choose to continue to H12. Similarly, the break after H13 is hived off from the side
of the walkway, with a bench facing the cartoon paneling for visitors to
sit and rest, or to inspect the summarizing information presented there
while sitting down. These rest breaks double up as breaks in the conceptual sequence of the signage—even though the next signboard is in
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … Fig. 4.4 The break at H13
117
118 A. KWEK
Fig. 4.5 The exhibition passageway
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 119
spatial and numerical sequence, there is no need for a conceptual connection to the previous signboard because of the summarizing break.
Cross-Thematic Aspects of the Walk: Botanicals and Art
As one proceeds along the 14th Century Walk, the interstitial spaces
between the H signs contain many signs that serve to identify plant species that are present at the respective signs. These are plant species that
have historical significance in that they were spices that were heavily
traded in the region, or are plant species that were cultivated on those
very locations from ancient to colonial times. The presence of the historically significant plant species such as sea hibiscus, ylang ylang and wild
nutmegs serve to reify the visitor’s experience of the historical content of
the H signboards; for example, of how the ancient palace grounds must
have smelled. The signs that label and describe the plant species receive
in situ justification since they have nearby referents (Fig. 4.6).
The sequential signboards of the 14th Century Walk are also interspersed at points by art pieces such as “The Right Side Down” (Teo
Huey Ling 2016), and “Wouldn’t Shoe” (Gerard Velthoen 2016).
These installations are referred to by signage that not only includes the
title, artist and year, but also a short write-up of its meaning. A visitor
on the 14th Century Walk is invited to make their own associations by
unexpected contemporary art pieces in the course of learning about
Singapore’s fourteenth-century history. The connections that one can
draw can serve to illuminate the H signboards that precede or succeed
them.
For example, one encounters the art piece “A Portrait” (Chang Wei
2016) after the signboard H17, about Badang, the “Strongman of 14th
Century Singapore”. The art piece is surprising because it is ostensibly
not a portrait as one normally understands the term to refer to a painting, drawing or sculpture of a person’s upper body, where the person’s
face is the focus. Instead, it looks like a wooden post with footprints
stamped into its side. The signage about the art piece reads, “Generally, a
portrait is not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person, on his personality and even his mood are displayed.” The surprise of the referent of
something entitled “A Portrait” and the grammatically unsound sentence
jolts one into the realization that portraits need not take their standard referents. This leads one to recompose the information conveyed
by H17: to what extent is Lat’s (the cartoonist’s) cartoon rendering of
120 A. KWEK
Fig. 4.6 Botanical signage intermingled with walk signage
Badang a characterization of Badang? What if the story of Badang is a
portrait of the Singaporean spirit, rather than a portrait of a historical
person? (Fig. 4.7)
These two cross-thematic aspects of the Walk serve to activate one’s
speculative and evaluative thoughts about the information that the Walk
presents. One is involved in knowledge construction rather than mere
uptake, making one’s interaction with the presented material even more
engaging and memorable.
The Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail
In contrast to Fort Canning’s 14th Century Walk, the National
Heritage Board’s Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail presents the visitor with
an ostensibly gridded layout. Recall that a gridded layout does not determine any sequence in which the visitor should visit the displays. The fact
that the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail presents the visitor with a gridded
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … Fig. 4.7 Chang Wei’s “A Portrait”
121
122 A. KWEK
layout is not evident from the trail map. This is because the maps present the sites as numbered sequentially, from 01 to 10. The spatial experience of a visitor actually on the trail belies the sequential numbering for
two reasons. First, the thoroughfares along which many of the sites are
located are often wide combinations of pavement, street and grass verges
that can accommodate walkers in opposite directions. Second, there are
items in the vicinity of the trail that can prompt one to wander in directions other than those dictated by the number sequence (Fig. 4.8).
The Gridded Layout and Its Pedagogical Implications
Table 4.2 organizes information about the various sites that are marked
on the trail map as having heritage significance and the streets by which
they are located, and relevantly interesting features of the streets. What
can be noted from the descriptions of the street features is that many of
the heritage sites are very close to one another, to the extent that one is
visible from another.
The heritage sites are numbered according to a walk that would take
a visitor from one point to another without backtracking or crossing the
path previously taken. This spatial sequence can be rationalized as a walk
that efficiently takes a person from one heritage site to another because it
covers all the marked sites in the shortest distance. Considerations of efficiency do not reflect the conceptual connections between the informative content of the site signboards. However, because of the ample walk
spaces and the lack of a superimposed conceptual sequence, the gridded
layout allows a visitor to visit the sites in whichever order they please.
This makes possible the spatial grouping of sites according to themes.
We present two possible themes: architecture styles and road names.
Architectural Styles
The flats of Tiong Bahru are renowned for their distinctive architectural
styles. Chronologically, the bearers of these styles can be divided into
pre-war and post-war flats that were built by the Singapore Improvement
Trust. The flats that were built in the pre-war years were begun in 1936.
These can be identified by stretches of unpainted brick in the exterior walls of the buildings. The distinctive architecture is Streamline
Moderne, an Art Deco style that was inspired by vehicles modern at that
time. It is characterized thus:
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 123
Fig. 4.8 The trail map reproduced on the top right-hand corner of every piece
of site marker signage
124 A. KWEK
Table 4.2 Points of interest marked on the trail map
No. Heritage site title
Street features
01
The Origin and Development
of Tiong Bahru
02
Bird Corner & Former Hu Lu
Temple
03
Graves of Tan Tock Seng, Chua
Seah Neo and Wuing Neo
04
The Outram Precinct
05
Monkey God Temple
06
The Architecture of Tiong Bahru
The location of the heritage sign is closer to
the junction of Seng Poh Road and Lim Liak
Street than is represented by the map. Seng
Poh Road is a two-way street with a partially
paved street divider. Lim Liak Street is a
­one-way street in the direction of Heritage
Site 10
The heritage sign and site are located at the
junction of Tiong Bahru Road and Seng Poh
Road. In order to reach here from Heritage
Site 01, one has to walk against the flow of
traffic on the paved side of Seng Poh Road
The sites are located on Outram Hill behind a
bus stop on Outram Road. It is inconvenient
to walk here from Heritage Site 02 because,
as one walks against the flow of traffic along
Seng Poh Road, one either has to jaywalk
across the street or, on the other side of the
street, walk on the road itself, as the sidewalk
peters out into a drain and a curb
Walking down Outram Road in the direction
of Singapore General Hospital, one encounters the signboard for the site next to the first
Singapore General Hospital building and
across a building in the International Style
along Tiong Bahru Road. Crossing the road
takes the visitor to Heritage Site 05
The Monkey God Temple is at the intersection
of Eng Hoon Street and Tiong Poh Road.
Both streets are narrow, two- way streets with
little traffic
Continuing down Tiong Poh Road in the
direction of vehicular traffic, one reaches
Heritage Site 06. The Streamline Moderne
architectural style is exhibited by the blocks
that line the road on both sides
(continued)
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 125
Table 4.2 (continued)
No. Heritage site title
07
08
09
10
Tiong Bahru Community Centre
Street features
Although one arrives at Tiong Bahru
Community Centre by continuing down
Tiong Poh Road from Heritage Site 06, this
is the rear of the community center. To get to
the front of the community center where the
Heritage Site signboard is located, one has to
walk around the community center via Guan
Chuan Street and then Seng Poh Road. Here,
Heritage Site 07 is just across the narrow Seng
Poh Road from Heritage Site 08. One actually
reaches Site 08 first when turning right on
Guan Chuan Street, before Site 07, which is
diagonally across and down the road from Site
08, away from Guan Chuan Street
Seng Poh Garden and Dancing Girl Heritage Site 08, along Seng Poh Road, refers
Sculpture
to a garden that contains a sculpture of a
dancing girl. The site is surrounded by blocks
in the Streamline Moderne style
The Horse-Shoe Block
The Horse-Shoe Block is built in the
Streamline Moderne style. It is a massive block
in a horse-shoe shape. Around the “U” of the
horseshoe runs Yong Siak Street, Moh Guan
Terrace and Guan Chuan Street. The interior
space of the “U” provides car parking. At
the “feet” of the “U” are two blocks in the
Streamline Moderne style, and, on the other
side of these two blocks, is Chay Yan Street. In
stark contrast to the distinctive architecture of
the Horse-Shoe Block, the row of shophouses
across Yong Siak Street from it is of a nondescript and utilitarian later design
Design of Tiong Bahru’s Post-War Heritage Site 10 is situated at the end of Lim
Flats
Liak Street, close to where it ends at Kim
Pong Road. The flats here were built in the
post-war years, in a second wave of building
by the Singapore Improvement Trust. They
are in the International Style and have their
boxy aesthetic broken by curved designs reminiscent of bows of ships and portholes
126 A. KWEK
[C]lean, curved shapes and rounded corners; long horizontal and vertical
lines; occasional nautical elements (such as port-hole windows and stainless
steel railings); simple, uncluttered lines; bands of windows; flat roof; racing
stripes simulate speed and motion; and glass blocks and group windows.15
The style is ubiquitous along both sides of Tiong Poh Road, Eng Watt
Street, Guan Chuan Street, and one side of Chay Yan Street, Yong Siak
Street, Moh Guan Terrace and Seng Poh Road. These streets also contain six out of the ten heritage sites (Fig. 4.9).
Seng Poh Road has flats of the pre-war Streamline Moderne style on
one side and flats of the post-war International Style on the other side.
Built between 1948 and 1954, these flats inherited the vehicular inspiration of the older style across the road by having curved open-air stairwells that remind one of the bows of ships and a circular porthole-like
design on the wall of the stairwell. The similarity ends here, however, as
the nautical embellishment sought only to temper the brute utilitarian
International Style. This style was characterized thus:
Practitioners of the International Style adopted a machine aesthetic,
emphasising abstract, undecorated surfaces and following the edict that
form follows function. This meant that the designs favoured the heavy use
of concrete, steel and glass, and tended to be boxy and stark.16
The plot of land bordered by Seng Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Road, Kim
Pong Road and Moh Guan Terrace contains 28 blocks of flats in the
International Style. Lim Liak Street runs through the plot, connecting
Seng Poh Road with Kim Pong Road. Double-counting the heritage
sites found along Seng Poh Road and Moh Guan Terrace, four heritage
sites can be found here, with Heritage Site 10 the only site that is not
shared (Fig. 4.10).
The distinctiveness of the two architectural styles, the proximity of
the buildings that manifest these styles and the numerous marked heritage sites in the areas containing flats of these architecture styles suggests
15 National
Heritage Board, “The Architecture of Tiong Bahru”, Signboard at Tiong
Bahru Heritage Trail Site 06, n.d.
16 National Heritage Board, “Design of Tiong Bahru’s Post-War Flats”, Signboard at
Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail Site 10, n.d.
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 127
Fig. 4.9 Signage 06 and surrounding Streamline Moderne architecture
visiting the heritage sites with the theme of architecture style in mind,
rather than following their numerical sequence. The relative locations of the styles make comparison easy along roads such as Seng Poh
Road, where different styles flank the road. One can even simultaneously compare other architectural styles visually; for example, between
Streamline Moderne and Peranakan styles at the junction of Tiong Poh
Road and Eng Hoon Street, and between Streamline Moderne and a
nondescript utilitarian style flanking Yong Siak Street. Any information proffered by the various marking the heritage sites can then be
imbibed in the context of architectural style, rather than read as standalone pieces of information.
The signboard for Heritage Site 10 at Lim Liak Street, which contains
information about the International Style, states that the designers of the
flats took seriously the heat and rain of the tropics. One might observe
the flats around for features that are conducive to cooling shade in the
tropical heat and shelter or flood preventing features against heavy rain.
128 A. KWEK
Fig. 4.10 Signage 10 and surrounding international style architecture
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 129
One could then construe information proffered by the Heritage Site
01 signboard near the other end of Lim Liak Street, at its junction with
Seng Poh Street, in light of design features that are conducive to tropical living. One could also understand the “‘open development principle’
with open spaces such as grassy plots and playgrounds served by footpaths created between the blocks” to mimic the spaces that the residents
of kampong houses would enjoy, for relaxation, as thoroughfares and
for play.17 Furthermore, one could compare the almost makeshift zincroofed old Tiong Bahru Market from the photo available on the Site 01
signboard with the flats of the International Style and appreciate how the
raised “five-foot ways” serve to elevate walkways above rainwater flooding in a way that would have been impossible for the wares laid out on
the open ground of the old market to avoid.
One could then compare the information contained in the Site 10
signboard with the information contained in the Site 06 signboard. One
may be surprised at how misleadingly titled the Site 06 signboard is
(“The Architecture of Tiong Bahru”), given that it makes reference with
ostensibly in situ justification to a distinctive architecture style that is differentiated from the “Design of Tiong Bahru’s Post-War Flats” referred
to by the Site 10 signboard. Tiong Bahru does not have one but two distinctive architecture styles displayed by its flats. Continuing one’s exploration of the Streamline Moderne neighborhood, one may marvel at how
the architecture style can be scaled up into the massive horseshoe block
that the Site 09 signboard makes reference to, and how buildings of two
completely different architectural styles, The Horse-Shoe Block and the
Tiong Bahru Community Centre (marked by the signboard at Heritage
Site 07) can similarly accommodate an air-raid shelter beneath each.
Finally, at Heritage Site 06, one can speculate on whether the Dancing
Girl Sculpture at Seng Poh Garden continues the vehicular inspiration
that is shared by the two architectural styles: do the folds of her skirt
resemble the fins of a jet engine?
A gridded museum layout is conducive to knowledge creation as the
visitor is free to visit and revisit displays in any order, and to make sense
of the resultant order in their own way. There is no imposed sequence
of visitation that reflects a preconceived relation between the displays.
Diverging from the efficiency of spatially following the numbered
17 Ibid.
130 A. KWEK
sequence of heritage sites on the trail, we can make sense of many of the
sites in relation to architectural style. The discussion in this section shows
how it can be done with certain sites as examples. Creating one’s knowledge from sites in a gridded layout has two benefits. First, the fact that
one creates the knowledge by oneself gives ownership over the knowledge, and the ownership motivates the learner to find out more, or to
make more connections. Second, the creation of links and the deriving
of conclusions of one’s own walk of discovery serve to etch the details of
the walk more deeply in one’s memory. In the next subsection, we consider another way of rationalizing the sites: by road names.
Road Names
Another thematic grouping with which to visit the heritage sites is by
road name. With the exception of Tiong Bahru Road and Outram Road,
the roads in Tiong Bahru are named after notable Chinese businessmen
in Singapore’s nineteenth-century history. The informative signboards at
each of the numbered sites on the trail often have additional information about the person after whom the road at the site is named. In addition, there are informative signboards not belonging to the trail, which
provide information on personalities behind road names. Table 4.3 summarizes information about the various heritage sites along the trail and
about the personality after whom the road at which the heritage site is
located was named (Fig. 4.11).
In addition to the numbered trail sites, there are two informative signboards off the trail that also present extensive information about personalities after whom roads were named. One of the signboards presents the
life of Tan Chay Yan, grandson of Tan Tock Seng, as the “first rubber
planter in Malaya”.18 It is found on the wall of one of the Streamline
Moderne blocks along Chay Yan Street. The other signboard presents
the life of Tan Kim Ching, the eldest son of Tan Tock Seng. He was a
successful businessman, a leader of the Chinese community, appointed
Justice of the Peace by the British, bestowed a second-rank imperial
court title by the Ching emperor and was Siamese Consul-General.19
The road that bears his name in Tiong Bahru is Kim Cheng Street. Tan
18 National
Heritage Board, “Tan Chay Yan: First Rubber Planter in Malaya”, Storyboard,
27 July 2014.
19 National Heritage Board, “Tan Kim Ching, J. P. (1829–1892)”, Storyboard, 27 July 2014.
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 131
Table 4.3 Various heritage sites along the trail
No. Heritage site
Road name described by site signboard
01
Tiong Bahru
04
05
The Origin and Development of Tiong
Bahru
Bird Corner & Former Hu Lu Temple
Graves of Tan Tock Seng, Chua Seah
Neo & Wuing Neo
The Outram Precinct
Monkey God Temple
06
The Architecture of Tiong Bahru
07
Tiong Bahru Community Centre
08
09
Seng Poh Garden & Dancing Girl
Sculpture
The Horse-Shoe Block
10
Design of Tiong Bahru’s Post-War Flats
02
03
Tiong Bahru Road and Seng Poh Road
Outram Road
Outram Road
Eng Hoon Street, Sit Wah Road and
Tiong Poh Road
Eng Watt Street, Sit Wah Road and
Tiong Poh Road
Eu Chin Street, Guan Chuan Street and
Eng Watt Street
Seng Poh Road and Moh Guan Terrace
Moh Guan Terrace and Guan Chuan
Street
Lim Liak Street
Kim Cheng Road, though, is beyond the Tiong Bahru neighborhood,
near the junction of Bukit Timah Road and Farrer Road. The signboard
is located on the wall of Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, just
beside the narrow Kim Cheng Street that runs along the wall. The other
side of the street blocks of flats in the post-war International Style can be
seen (Figs. 4.12 and 4.13).
From the above summary alone, one can appreciate the history that
one can learn by simply paying attention to the personalities after whom
the streets are named. Should one take this approach, one could make
connections between Heritage Site 03 (“Graves of Tan Tock Seng, Chua
Seah Neo & Wuing Neo”), Chay Yan Street and Tan Kim Cheng Road,
since these locations make in situ reference to names of members of the
same family. Furthermore, one can appreciate the fact that the very existence of Site 03 was made possible by Tan Kim Cheng’s buying of the
land on Outram Hill for family burial.
Over and above the person after whom the street was named,
some of the signboards at heritage sites give interesting details about
the streets themselves. For example, the signboard at Site 04 (“The
Outram Precinct”) tells us that Outram Road used to be known as
River Valley Road, but that created confusion with a road of the same
132 A. KWEK
Fig. 4.11 Example of site marker signage with road name information
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 133
Fig. 4.12 The informative signboard about Tan Chay Yan
name that lay in a different river valley. We also learn about prominent
buildings that used to be located along Outram Road. The signboard
at Site 05 (“Monkey God Temple”) describes Eng Hoon Street as one
of the earliest streets in Tiong Bahru to be developed, presents Sit Wah
Road as the site of the “first cluster of buildings to be constructed
in Tiong Bahru”, a “row of three shophouses”, and the people who
were responsible for these initial building projects. We learn also that
Sit Wah Road and Eng Hoon Street “were once linked to each other
and led to the Singapore General Hospital”.20 We can appreciate the
difference in the current layout of the two roads, still linked together,
but now separated from the Singapore General Hospital by the Central
Expressway.
20 National Heritage Board, “Monkey God Temple”, Signboard at Tiong Bahru Heritage
Trail Site 05, n.d.
134 A. KWEK
Fig. 4.13 The informative signboard about Tan Kim Cheng
Another example of a signboard describing roads, rather than just the
person with whom it shares its name, is the signboard at Heritage Site
02 (“Bird Corner & Former Hu Lu Temple”). From the signboard at
Heritage Site 01 (“The Origin and Development of Tiong Bahru”), we
already learn the meaning of “Tiong Bahru”. Here, we learn that Tiong
Bahru Road “ran through a large Chinese cemetery that stretched all the
way to Leng Kee Road”.21 Finally, while we learn from the signboard at
Heritage Site 08 (“Seng Poh Garden & Dancing Girl Sculpture”) about
the person that Seng Poh Road is named after, it is at the signboard at
Heritage Site 01 where we discover that on the current site of the Tiong
Bahru Market and Food Centre once stood the Seng Poh Road Market,
which took the place of the first market in the Tiong Bahru neighborhood, at Tiong Poh Road. While the Tiong Bahru and Food Centre and
the Seng Poh Road Market occupy the same plot of land at the corner
21 National Heritage Board, “Bird Corner & Former Hu Lu Temple”, Signboard at
Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail Site 02, n.d.
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 135
of Seng Poh Road and Lim Liak Street, they are worlds apart. We can
observe from the photographs on the signboard at Site 01 the rudimentary zinc-roofed structure and the disorganized laying of wares by hawkers on the ground that was Seng Poh Market, and compare this image
with the clean, well-lit and well-ventilated two-storey building with a
rooftop carpark before us.
Conclusion
By way of concluding this study, we summarize how the 14th Century
Walk at Fort Canning and the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail, in exemplifying a sequential layout and a gridded layout, respectively, can fail to
contribute pedagogically to conveying their historical information.
Finally, we return to the more general topic of the peripheral spaces of
walks and show how the study was made possible only by attending to
the spaces from which displays and vantages are presented; spaces that
are peripheral and overlooked when dominated by the spaces containing
the objects of presentation.
The Pedagogical Pitfalls of Sequential Layouts
Sequential layouts are pedagogically useful when the order of displays
mirror some conceptual order between the information presented at the
different displays. This can be chronological, processual or hierarchical.
There are two ways in which the spatial sequence of displays can serve to
thwart pedagogical goals. The first way is where the spatial sequence is
reversed in the conceptual sequence; for example, in a sequential layout
that whose direction of visitor travel corresponds to the movement from
earlier to later in a chronology, unjustified reversals in the chronological
sequence can serve to confuse the visitor. The second way is where an
item in an explicitly sequential layout exhibits no conceptual continuity
with the previous item in the sequence and there are no alternative justifications for its inclusion at that point in the sequence. Such inclusions
can also serve to confuse a visitor expecting a reason for including something at a certain point in a sequence.
A sequential layout does not mandate that every item contains information that can be sequentially rationalized, but it does require that
information that cannot be sequentially rationalized has its presence
at that point in the sequence rationalized in some other way. In our
136 A. KWEK
discussion, we explored two forms of rationalization: first, breaks in the
spatial order, exemplified by rest stops and gathering spaces, can indicate the start of a new sequence at the next display, thus obviating the
need for it to be sequentially rationalized; second, a display that bears
no sequential rationalization to the previous display in the sequence can
have in situ justification because that spatial position is, or was, precisely
where the referent of the information is found. In designing walks in
which the sequential layout is explicit, care should be taken to ensure
that the spatial sequence is rationalized by the information presented by
the displays.
The Pedagogical Pitfalls of Gridded Layouts
Gridded layouts are pedagogically useful when the scatter of displays
allow a visitor to construct their own knowledge vis-à-vis the displays
and the in situ justified information provided about them. Because the
knowledge is constructed by the visitor, their ownership of the knowledge motivates them to discover more and inscribes the learning more
deeply in their memory. There are two potential problems that a gridded
layout presents and which can distract a visitor from concertedly pursuing one line of knowledge construction: competing sequential themes
and competing objects of interest.
The first problem is that of conflicting sequential themes. The
designer of a walk in which many, if not all, of the significant items on
the walk have in situ justification may want to specify a sequence of visitation for the visitor so that the visitor efficiently covers all the notable
sites in the shortest distance. The items that are in the stipulated spatial
sequence do not have any systematic conceptual relations that are mirrored by the sequence. As such, the visitor does not benefit from the spatial reiteration of such a sequence. Treating the trail experience as one of
ticking off a checklist of notable sites to visit, the visitor could end the
walk with a completed mental checklist of sites and the corresponding
photographs, but little retained knowledge.
The second is that of competing objects of interest. The Tiong Bahru
neighborhood is replete with quaint bookstores, coffee shops, cafés, bakeries and restaurants. Examples of quaint bookstores include The French
Bookshop along Tiong Bahru Road, which specializes in the French books
niche market, and Books Actually along Yong Siak Street, an independent
4 THE PEDAGOGICAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE PERIPHERAL SPACES … 137
bookstore that specializes in literature and poetry. Strangelets, a few doors
away, tempts one away from the heritage trail with interesting knick-knacks
for sale. Hua Bee at Moh Guan Terrace is the traditional coffee shop where
Eric Khoo’s classic film Mee Pok Man was filmed. One can stop to savor
the offerings of the famous P. S. Café Petit along Guan Chuan Street, or
the Nonya kuehs (confectionaries) from Galicier Pastry along Tiong Bahru
Road. At Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre there is a smorgasbord of
delectable local hawker fare, some of which were the same stalls that operated at the Seng Poh Road Wet Market that stood on the same site. One
can seriously pursue a food-themed exploration of local fare here, relinquishing one’s prior pursuit of less gastronomic knowledge. Finally, if one
walked the heritage trail in the evening, venerable Chinese restaurants such
as the Por Kee Eating House and the Golden Spoon Restaurant at either
end of Seng Poh Lane beckon the dinner-hungry visitor away from the
heritage trail. Without a strong conceptual sequence justifying an explicitly
designed spatial sequence, the mindboggling variety of distractions intermingled with the heritage trail sites threaten to distract the casual visitor
from the knowledge that the trail can impart.
The Peripheral Spaces of Walks
It is unsurprising that the spaces of walks are frequently overlooked as
a significant pedagogical contributor to the walker. What is of perceptual and cognitive interest to the visitor is not the space in which they
walk but, rather, the objects contained in the spaces that are presented
along their walking space. Yet, a visitor to a historical walk or a heritage trail can have their learning experience enhanced by attention to the
spatial and conceptual organization relevant to the space in which the
walking occurs: conceptual sequences mirrored by spatial sequence reiterate the conceptual relationships; exploration in unstructured layouts
engender knowledge construction with the attendant benefits of ownership over the knowledge. In this exploratory study, we applied layout
types and features from the area of museum design to an analysis of the
pedagogical contributions of two walks in Singapore, Fort Canning’s
14th Century Walk and the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail. The discussions
about the two walks correspond to a discussion about a sequential layout
and a gridded layout, respectively. We acquire pedagogical insights about
these ways of organizing peripheral walk spaces in the process.
138 A. KWEK
References
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