T H E R E I F I E R
URBAN REVITALIZATION THROUGH GENTRIFICATION
DOES NOT NECESSARY MEANS ALIENATION...
The current Klang Town, (located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) has been experiencing the efflux of local community over the years due to various social issues and the development of new townships at the fringe such as Setia Alam and Bukit Tinggi. The limited market available due to the moving out of majority buying power has left a lot of business to fall and eventually closed down. The efflux of middle-class community resulted in the fall of living standard, which then countered by the influx of foreign community, often lower-class that stemmed up even more social issue. And the deterioration does not stop here. The worsening condition encourages even more local community to make up their mind of moving out, and at the same time attracts the likes to the place.
The idea of rejuvenating the area revolves around the notion of gentrification by introducing an institution, imagining it as a form of city campus by injecting new community hence expanding the city activity level over a broader coverage to reactivate the idle street. However, very often the term itself carries negative connotations such as driven out of existing community and conflict of cultural value. According to Charles Landry, this pessimism usually arises due to the fading sense of placeness by the local and the feeling of being segregated. Yet, with no doubt issue such as security and businesses can only be solved as a collective effort from everyone developing mutual responsibilities to a place. The gentrification thus has to emphasize more on interaction and exposure rather than concealing and segregation.
A new form of gentrification therefore is required to promote interaction and to create exposure between the two communities, of new and existing. By putting this against the idea of reactivating a place through institution, an opportunity of extroverted education points to an art school, as art is often deemed as an expressive form of communication. The intention is by using the institution as a form of catalyst to react against its surrounding to generate a sharing platform that resonates among both communities, hoping to strengthen the mutual bond and sense of belonging. Very often gentrification means introduction of a new community that could easily be isolated from the native, but here the intention is to maximize the interaction and eliminates the boundary in between.
The Reifier is an inversion of envelop and content, picturing as an inside-out architecture. A study departs from how various arts are to be experience and best display is to be translated into the architecture, which can be grouped into analogue art and digital art. This also becomes like a split and dialogue within the reality and virtual world of art itself. Thus, the building massing is being separated into two, one on top of the other. The bottom massing then lined with exhibition space, with shaded corridor running around connected with steps and seating for upclose experience of the art; the top massing then cladded with reflective panel, animated by human activities on ground level. It also doubles up as LCD screen for the projection of digital art as a lively building façade. Metaphorically, it becomes as if the virtual world is an apparent image of the actual world, holding up afloat incubated with imagination. The reflection also indicates an oscillation between virtual and reality, subconscious and consciousness, triggering imagination, and manifesting the dogma of art and creativity through the architecture language itself while keeping the channel of interaction and communication opens.