Several visits to the Environmental Decks (E-Decks) in Treelodge @ Punggol had highly made me skeptical about this elevated green space situated in the North Eastern Region, Punggol, as a truly sustainable and communal space. While the E-Deck had been successful in some aspects, there are still much shortcomings that needs much improvement.

Treelodge @ Punggol (Photography by Larry Yeung)

Treelodge @ Punggol (Photography by Larry Yeung)

The older Surface Carpark provides convenient parking facilitie around residential blocks but however takes up more landscape, often creating asphalt areas trapping heat which is then radiated back to the environment (HDB, 2007). As such, HDB had introduced the podium carparks and E-Decks as one of its approach for a more sustainable public housing development for the future (HDB, 2007). Treelodge is one of these estates to pioneer such a design concept.

The podium carpark, as claimed by the board, “provides convenient parking facilities with landscaped roof deck which spreads across entire precinct”. In this way, this creates a vehicular-free roof deck which maximizes greenery spaces and creates safe environment for recreational activities, promoting community bonding (HDB, 2007). It is also claimed to be sustainable. But is reality really so?

Several visits to Treelodge had made me reflect on these claims by HDB. And in my opinion, there seems to be much difference in concept and in reality.

HDB claims that Treelodge’s location  between a common green and the existing old Punggol Road creates an opportunity for green connectors to run through the precinct, which will not only further enhance the greenery within the living environment but also co-relate the green areas with the neighboring sites (HDB, 2007). However to travel to the E-Deck from the ground is not without much hassle. Firstly, one needs to either navigate through the carpark to find an elevator to connect to the landscape deck, or walk up a flight of stairs to the deck. Moreover, the deck is not very visually connected to the streetscape. This makes the E-Deck rather disconnected with the nearby green areas. In this case, the question is, where is the “co-relation” as claimed by HDB? This is something worth pondering upon.

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Where’s the Landscape?: E-Deck as seen from the nearby “green connectors’

Stairway leading to the E-Deck (Larry Yeung, 2013)

Stairway leading to the E-Deck.

 

The long flight of ramp that leads to the E-Deck

The Eco deck is also claimed to create a large green footprint to allow the maximization of ecology in the Eco Precinct. However, plants in the E-Deck seem to be “dying” and quite a number of plants, especially those on the roof do not seem to be doing very well. This may call for a replacement of plants and such a scene do not speak much of sustainability as claimed.

Lush Greenery on E-Deck

Withering Greenery on E-Deck

 

The withering creepers

In terms of community bonding, The E-Deck have many interesting spaces which is unique to the precinct. However, these spaces are not too popular among residents. Many young residents that was interviewed mentioned that they do not have time to use the space, and some would prefer heading to the waterway just next to the precinct for a jog as the space there are more spacious. However, during weekends, elderly do appreciate the jogging track, citing it more convenient for them. While people do use these spaces occasionally, bonding seem to be restrictive, with just mere greetings in most cases.

The playground and community garden seem to be most successful space within the elevated green space, with most interactions taking place in these areas. Parents interact while kids play, and residents interact while planting. Although the number is not too significant, but without doubt, the E-Deck is more successful than the MSCP Roof Gardens in promoting community bonding.

Community Garden @ E-Deck

Community Garden @ E-Deck

Playground @ E-Deck

Playground @ E-Deck

 

While the E-Deck in this case may not be too successful in promoting bonding and being sustainable, it is an attempt of trying to be a little more unique. But the design still sees a very top down approach with little opportunity for residents to personalise their own space (Unlike the case in Bedok Reservoir Gardens, where residents personalise their own lift lobbies connecting to the roof garden). Also, the relationship with the nearby green spaces are not too well designed and not much consideration for context.

Nonetheless, the E-Deck is still at an experimental stage, and may future design learn from these short comings and create better elevated green spaces for the future.

 

 

References:

  • Housing & development Board (HDB), “The Green Housing Book: HDB’s Approach to Sustainable Development” (2007)
  • All Pictures are copyrighted (c) and are taken by the Author, Larry Yeung