. Infratecture: Exploring the urban and architectural design...A Decolonial Vision of Cities, Rural Areas, and Life A Material Return to Gendered Labor in Modern Architecture v...A New Suburbia in a post-COVID World?A Tour of the Monuments of Jinwen Train line: Infrastructura...Alternative housing models in action. Public-community ecosy...Architectural Investigation of Urban Villages in Shenzhen an...Architecture, technology and the environment: proposals for ...Balancing ACT: transgressing boundaries, asserting community...Biomimicry Thinking: fostering quality of life and sustainab...Changing landscapes and places in fluxChanging Physical and Societal Landscape in the New Normal: ...Cities without Country: High-density urban agriculture and t...Co-creating with design Urban-Rural food systems for sustain...Colonizing the harbour - The role of architecture in creatin...Colour seduction: Foster Associates strategies for architect...Concept of Garden city in Wrocław (Breslau) after World War...Counterculture Countryside: Unveiling Stories of a Fallen Oh...Covid Distancing and its Effect on Shared Mental Models & ZP...Defining Wilderness: The Evolving Boundaries of Banff Nation...Designing for Sustainable Community Transformation: Age-Frie...Designing in the Anthropocene. How living and designing with...Designing Virtual Cultural Memories for Asian Cities: the Ca...Ecotopia – Architectural Ecotopes as an approach to combat...Ethics in the Outside between Transpacific Coastal Centres a...Expanding Service Learning Projects in Design Education Beyo...Exploration for an Inclusive approach for Historical Settlem...Factors Sustaining City’s Distinctiveness. Case Study Sura...Façade as Façade: Northern Ireland’s parallel realityFrom alternate realities, to the urban impossible: Drawing o...Greened Out: Exploring the understanding and effects of gree...Hunting the Kingfish: On Uncovering and Reclaiming Exurban Q...Indigenous Weaving Techniques in Shaping Building SkinsInfinite Space of the U.S. Interior Justice through (Re)Planting Aotearoa New Zealand’s Urban ...Keynote IntroductionKEYNOTE: Don’t be second hand American – build on Count...KEYNOTE: Ethical SpacesKEYNOTE: From Countryside to Country-sideMapping 18th-century London through Hogarthian ArtMapping Everyday Community Life in Exurban Areas around Toky...Mapping lifelines and tracing tendencies: how the design of ...Mapping of social initiatives as a model of local developmen...Memory, emotions and everyday heritage in good architectural...Micro Project - Macro Subjects: Waste and reuse as strategy ...Multicultural Design Projects and Openness to Diversity Multiculturalism in Public Transport HubsNarrative and Sustainability: An Interpretation and a Case S...Networks of Circular Economy Villages: Garden Cities for the...Neuro-Participatory Urbanism: Sensing Sentiments and Trackin...New communities and new values? Exploring the interplay betw...Non-urban zero emission neighbourhoods: Two cases from Norwa...(Not Just) Another Roadside Attraction: Documenting Roadside...Participatory methodology for the inventory of Intangible Cu...Pedagogy of Integration of L+Arch. The Last Pristine Place i...Poipoia te Kākano, Kia Puāwai – Enabling Māori communit...Protecting, Integrating & Allocating Agriculture in Urban De...Reflecting on the Urban and the Regional: Designing for a po...Resilient futures through collaborative teaching Revalue. Heritage as idea and project.Revisiting the notion of landscape in Landscape ArchitectureRings of Urban Informality – Manifestations, Typologies an...Rites and Myths. A new form of countryside regenerationRural Parks and the Urban Renaissance: Finding a Blueprint f...Rural Resourcefulness: Lessons from the American School Rurbanism or a transversal overlook in our territoriesSegregating the Suburbs: The History of the Ladera Housing C...Smudge, Prayer and SongSustainable Civil Infrastructure: A Historical Survey Teaching non-designers a designThe "K" shaped recovery: The impact of COVID 19 on housing i...The analysis of public space qualities in terms of flexibili...The Black Panthers, Rat Park, and Opioid Addiction – A Rur...The Cultural Capital of Urban MorphologyThe Garden in the Machine: new symbols of possibility for a ...The Influence and Importance of Sacred Places in Community A...The Life of the River: Currents and Torrents at the Edge of ...The Reach of a Morpho-Topical ArchitectureThe street, the place where the life is. A rudofskian though...The sustainability of urban ruins—Shougang Group industria...The World Park and the CountrysideUrban CatalystsUrban Design Projects for University CampusUrban Protected Areas – between cities and rural hinterlan...Urban Revitalization –Defragmenting the Lahore CanalValue-Inclusive Design for Socially Equitable Communities Virtual Tourism relocation (VTr) - to experience the lost, t...Welcome & IntroductionWelcome and IntroductionWhat does it mean to see cows grazing in American cities? Wild Ways – A scoping review of literature on understandin...

Cultures, Communities and Design

Designing Virtual Cultural Memories for Asian Cities: the Case of Kubor Kassim in Singapore
D. Ocón
11:00 am - 12:30 pm


Kubor Kassim is a century old, serene Muslim cemetery in Singapore. Although many of its surviving 3,000 graves are unidentified, the graveyard contains elaborate tombs from internees of notable background, including community leaders and respected Muslim sheikhs (religious leaders and scholars). Kubor Kassim also houses a surau (prayer house) where religious classes are conducted, and offers its own miniature ecosystem of flora and fauna, including banyan trees and hornbills.
Asia’s rapid urbanisation subjects cultural heritage to tensions that threaten its preservation and poses dilemmas for decision-makers. The choice between expansion and protection is rarely straightforward, and controversies intertwine development, urban planning, sustainability, memory-shaping, and identity-building. For most of its short history as a nation, Singapore has had to make challenging decisions regarding the use of its territory. Space is a highly-sought and tightly controlled commodity in such a land-scarce, fully urbanised and densely-populated country. Kubor Kassim is one of the latest examples of these tensions. Surrounded by private residential properties, in an area affected by population pressures and earmarked for future residential development, the cemetery is at risk of disappearance. Given Kubor Kassim’s uncertain future and being mindful that a heritage site’s tangibility cannot be replaced, this paper posits digitalisation as a preservation alternative. Using tools such as digital archiving, virtual mapping capturing with 360-degree technology, interactive maps, and UAV (drone) photography and filming, this investigation explores encounters with the cemetery that can also act as its’ memory insurance policy’ in case of destruction or disappearance. The research includes comprehensive documentation, field works to record the site, and interviews with policymakers, community and religious leaders, and internees’ family members. The paper urges reflection on the importance of cultural heritage in Asian cities, often threatened by the very process of urban growth and development. It also demonstrates that the design of parallel digital worlds can provide respectful and sustainable ways of preserving the cultural heritage and the priceless memories associated with it.


David Ocón, PhD, has 20 years of experience in the arts, culture, and education sectors. He has led departments at organisations such as the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF, Singapore), the European Network on Cultural Management and Policy (ENCATC, Belgium), and Cervantes Institute (Beijing, China), where he was the head of culture. David is currently based in Singapore where he is an Assistant Professor at Singapore Management University’s School of Social Sciences. He teaches and researches Cultural Diplomacy and Relations in Asia, Urban Cultural Anthropology, Arts Marketing, and Cultural Heritage Management. As an academic, he has worked, among others, at City University of Hong Kong, James Cook University, and the School of Technology for the Arts Singapore. For more than a decade, he has been a visiting faculty member at the University of Barcelona’s International Cultural Cooperation and Management Postgraduate Programme. In addition, David is an evaluator of arts management programmes and regularly provides strategic advice and training for cultural organisations worldwide.