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by Chin Yan Yong

[Master of Architecture 2019, Universiti Putra Malaysia]

Republished with permission from Design Epitome D+A Vol. 1

A Beautiful Mess

The Funnel physical layout is designed to gather people and young offender together and give each other chance and stem from the transition functional program which are reflected, reform, reintegrate and reborn. Winston Churchill once said: ‘We shape buildings, thereafter they shape us.’ With the understanding that the built environment can change human nature behaviour. The Funnel is designed with the primary purpose of slowly filtering, altering human nature and intervention of public perception and young offender behaviour through individual reflective space, and public collective space. With a properly built environment, The Funnel creates an opportunity for social, economic and cultural growth. Inmates experience and constitutive programming for self-empowerment and contribute back to society, while the public will eventually raise awareness, respect and generate acceptance towards inmate when they see their contribution and changes.  Moreover, The Funnel is considered to be a new image of security landmark for the city, a place to protect the society as a whole.


The design also enriches the urban fabric by creating both indoor and outdoor spaces that becomes part of the surrounding city as a community spot. This in turns drives the design of the other plots nearby. Proximity and blending with the city are considered crucial approach but allows for an enhance physical contact and active communication with public as part of the community-based program, which further contributes to inmate’s future integration. The Funnel in city centre create a mutual trust and symbiotic relationship between the public and young offender, one that leads ultimately to a new type of perception towards inmates, a beatiful mess, not shame(s) to be hidden… 

Proposed Site: Pudu, Kuala Lumpur

Pudu is known for its long history of being one of the newly developed townships are in the early 1950s. It can be seen around the Pudu area where, stacks of people from different ethnicities, skin colours, cultures and ages. Jalan Pudu is like a self-sustaining fortress that is filled with life. The folks here live, eat, work and trade according to their rule of law, bound by an invisible wall. Architecture elements influenced the social cultural life of Pudu, the nature of mimicking made them start their business in public spaces as well. Its richness in history and memories gives us a glimpse into the shadowy past of Kuala Lumpur. However, the previous town planning laws caused an intermixing of the commercial and residential zone which leads to high population density and creates some social issues.

Pudu has become a hot spot crime area in Kuala Lumpur. Property crime against foreign tourists and local residents is common criminal activity here. The most common crimes committed by youth against foreigners in Pudu are petty theft, particularly purse snatching, pickpocketing, smash-and-grab thefts from vehicles, and residential burglaries. Residential break-ins are common, and single-family homes are most frequently targeted. The urban communities have a strong stigmatized perception of the young criminal and offender. The image of Jalan Pudu is slowly fading away in local’s minds and being labeled as a dangerous neighborhood. These phenomena further motivate the need for intervention within the city centre to create a safe neighbourhood,  one that rediscovers the beauty of Pudu.

Proposed Site
Design Concept

Design Concept: Kinstugi

The Japanese art of ‘Kinstugi’ emphasizes that broken object is not something to hide but to display with pride. When a bowl or teapot falls and break, we used to throw them away angrily and regretfully. Yet there is an alternative solution offered by the art of kintsugi; by repairing and enhance the breaks through adding value, it is possible to give a new lease of life to it that becomes even more refined thanks to its ‘scars’. Same goes to the The Funnel, it was decided to be located in the urban juncture as a beautiful landmark to remind the public that social issue should not be hidden but to be exposed of their vulnerabilities, showing old wounds and admitting errors in order to heal, grow stronger, creates intimacy and trust in a relationship, and fosters forgiveness.

People who did wrong should not be regarded as marred and isolated as broken objects. The attempt to ‘repair’ and ‘reform’ with adhesive enhances the break line as sometimes in doing so to obtain more unique and valuable objects. This is the essence of resilience. Kintsugi calls attention to the lines made by time and rough use; one without a source of shame and stigma. With an emphasizing the beauty and utility of breaks and imperfection reflective environment, it could move public perception from a punishment mindset to one of rehabilitation and reintegration so as to raise the public awareness and gain support in giving a second chance for the inmates. In the meantime, young offenders can be ‘repaired’ in a more successful rehabilitation infrastructure so that recidivism rates can be reduced and even further setting up current inmates to be productive members of society and contribute back to society.

Concept Development
Design Development
The Funnel

The Funnel resembles a giant tree equipped with a relaxing space available for all. It symbolizes the social issue to be solved from the grass root, a responsibility beared by all. A different physical layout of correctional facilities enable a new symbiotic relationship between the prisoners and the world in hopes of affecting the traditional scepticism toward delinquents.

Sectional Perspective
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