House of Hominids

FINALIST of Archi-Hack: Panopticon


Archi-Hack: Panopticon


House of Hominids


Name: Cleve Yu Chak Lam 

Instagram: @Clebe_You

Nationality: Hong Kong 

Institution / Company: Newcastle University

The Snow Monkey Park in Yamanouchi Japan was originally founded as a protected natural habitat for the snow monkeys to thrive and co-exist with humans, as the coexistence lengthened, so did the adaptability of the Japanese macaques (snow monkeys), they eventually learnt to enjoy the natural hot springs and would even at times bathe with humans. But as time went on it became more and more of an attraction for tourists to witness the uncharacteristic trait of a monkey in a hot spring, what was once a land of co-existence, became a glorified zoo of surveillance and monitoring. Staff are inclined to be aggressive and controlling of whether or not the macaques can leave the pools while humans focus their gazes and cameras on them. 

Similarly, the panopticon was designed for maximum efficiency in surveillance and control. The form followed with a program that gave person in charge authority and the subjects of surveillance submission. But what if we flipped the program while retaining the blueprint of the panopticon? Translating the space of authority into a space of transition, not only eliminating the special hierarchy but also balancing out who is watching who. In the context of the Japanese macaques and humans, the reimagined program of the panopticon balances the power of surveillance between the two groups. Placed on the same levels and having equal access to the centre allows the humans and monkeys to simultaneously observe each other while enjoying a nice hot bath without being bothered. The function of the reimagined panopticon aims to harmonise the relationship between man and ape and revive the true intention of the snow monkey park of being a land of co-existence rather than surveillance. The panopticon, now the House of Hominids is the very ant-thesis to the panopticon itself in pursuit of control through balance and harmony.


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