In continuation to the past community engagement events held by the team H.I.5, this is the main and biggest event so far which involves the residents in designing for the type of communal spaces that they would like to have. Our aim was to see to what extent can participatory design be materialised.

Below is the full coverage on our event! 🙂

Today is the day of our Community Design Prototype Workshop with the residents from Jalan Kukoh! This is held with the help of the Jalan Kukoh RC committee. What we aimed to achieve out of this workshop is to design hand in hand with the people for the kind of spaces they would envision and hope for in their estate.

We wished to see to what extent can participatory design be carried out and we are glad to conclude at the end of the workshop that participatory design is possible!

Let us bring you through our exciting day!

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Residents gathering with our supporting RC Committee.

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Brief introduction was given and our agenda of the day was made known to the residents. In total we have a group of roughly around 16 people in this activity who are split up into three main groups to engage in more fruitful discussions and hands on.  Mostly adults are involved in this exercise, with a good mix of working adults and retired elderly; these are the groups that we hear less from in previous engagements.

A total of 15 scenarios were given to the residents, which are gathered from out previous community engagements with regard to the type of communal spaces that the residents would like to have. A example of scenarios are like minimarts, classrooms, café, play space, laundry services, flea markets, 24hrs mobile clinic and so on.

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Modular cubes are given to each group; they are then to pick 2-3 scenarios that they would like and with the limited number of cubes build the kind of space they envisioned which can be flexible or multi-usage throughout the day.  Only the frames of the modular cubes together with materials to build the spaces are given, so as to allow them to be unrestricted in their imaginations and as well guided with the basic size.
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Each group are to envisioned these shared communal space in the context of three main communal spaces that held memories to the residents, which are the Hawker Centre, the Multistory Carpark roof deck and the Communal courts at Blk 12 area.

Slowly as we engage them to think what they do daily, what activities do they engage in and what kind of neighbourhood would they like, the residents warmed up and started to talk excitedly.

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We have interesting instances where one resident would voice what she would like and the other would say how impractical that is and offer opinions on how sustainable it can be and another would help to say that in the long run this kind of spaces would be possible and is good. We are very much enlightened by the different views and opinions by the people, as well as the synergy between residents of different background and aims but working towards a end where everyone in the group is satisfied and had no disagreements with the common communal space that they would like and can be shared within the diverse groups.

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The group that was given the context of the Hawker Centre envisioned that they would like to have a Kitchen cum F&B stall that can operate throughout the day especially at night due to half day operation of most stalls at the Hawker Centre and yet there is a demand for food when residents come back from work and are too tired to cook.

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A Kitchen Cum F&B Stall!

One resident voiced “When you are so tired already, why would you want to go anywhere else for food, I will rather cook dinner myself.”

We then prompt to ask what if you or anyone else can cook home cook food and is located in the neighbourhood and could operate at dinner time would you patronize, and she immediately say yes although she hesitated for a minute as it seems impossible to her at that moment that such ideal situation would happen.

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Slowly as this group starts to feel inspired, they came out with their second scenario that they would like to be located together with the Kitchen cum F&B stall, which is a Tea-Room. This is so that the retired elderly can have a place to go to and mingle while helping out at the kitchen is they are able to.  Everyone in the group were talking about how they envy the Chinese being able to have tea and slowly savour life everyday, and they hope to be able to create that kind of scenario here, to enrich residents’ daily life and to tell people that its not just about work everyday although work is the key.

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Sheltered Tea Room with Translucent Top to allow natural sunlight in!

They were pretty much excited as they incorporated a playing space for the children, one indoor and one outdoor, so that the elderly who are caretaker for their grandchildren can let them play while they mingle and interact at the tearoom. One resident even pointed that it will be good for such layout as it has a potential for three generations to use the space together, yet feels happy that each has their own space and doing things that they enjoy.

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Two Play Area for the kids!

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End Product!

Next up is the group that was given the context of the Communal courts at Blk 12 area!

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This area is transformed into a space which is more ladies friendly. The residents in this group were concerned that York Hill void decks are under utilized where people are seen drinking there. It makes it unsafe especially for ladies and kids to stroll around in York Hill. Hence they envision that by claiming the space to be for ladies gathering, it will input a function into the less used spaces in York Hill, activating it into a space friendly and safe for ladies and also their children, where they can come and enjoy each other company.

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Envisioning of a safe environment!

A library is also placed beside this ladies gathering place, where it serves adults and children. They were very excited and suggested that elderly and parents can bring young children down and enjoy the books in the library, serving as a space for cross generation bonding.

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A mini market was then set up beside the library, which will be selling cooking ingredients such as onions and garlic, as well as drinks for the readers. The mini market will be convenient for housewife to buy their cooking ingredients near their home.  On top of this, they added a 24 hours clinic to the scenario, hoping that this would help the elderly residents living in York Hill and also the whole of Jalan Kukoh.

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End Product!

Others saw the need of being better informed at this similar location. A constant challenge they faced is the elderly’s illiteracy. Hence they also hope that there can be a information counter set up so that important information such as benefits and incentives can be translated to them. They suggested that students from the nearby schools can come and set up this information counter once every week, to help the residents in matters such as translating letters and filling up of forms. They feel that this is a very practical problem for them and would be very glad if such a scenario were to come true.

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Relatively flexible space for multi-usage purposes! (Information Counter, Activity Area, Health Check up, Tuition services etc.)

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End Product!

Next we have the group that was given the context of the Multistory Carpark roof deck!

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They transformed the space into a gardening space integrated with gathering spaces and play spaces.

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Many of the residents shared that they have many memories here. It is almost a space which they have seen evolved over the years.

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Building the garden spaces!

“We planted many nice flowers and fruit plants but were often stolen” shared some residents. They proposed that it would be good if they could have an enclosed space where residents can ensure that their food stay “secure”. On top of that, they also wish for some company of animals and said to integrate the garden with animals like rabbits and chickens. “Wouldn’t it be nice if I can come down and play with animals every once in awhile?”

After then, the residents placed a play space beside garden. Quoting one of the resident “At least we can see kids playing while doing gardening, and also let the bunny in our garden space play with them.” Also, these kids can have also some space to play since this deck belongs to everyone.

Lastly, they also put in effort to create a space where residents could sit down and enjoy. They shared that most of the elderly like to sit around the estate, and chill. So, this space would be good to have. “Teenagers could also use the space to pak tor (Go dating), isn’t it great?” One of the elderly joked.

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Interior view!

The participants were really happy with the outcome of the gardens. Some of them got so excited that they wish to take the “bunnies” in the model home.

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Resident with bunnies!

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End Product!

What surprised us at the end is that we do not need to have a formal gathering and sharing of ideas and design between the groups! This is so as the groups simply mingle around and tell others what they have and ask what the others had. They are really excited and chatted happily over each other’s design contributions toward the end result.

“Thank you for inviting us to participate, I felt like I am back to my childhood days when kids then can make their own things and not just simply buy, and what’s more we are creating that kind of communal space that we might have in future. “ One resident was especially grateful and you could see the genuine happiness in these adults and elderly.

This told us that play is not only for the kids, the adults and elderly also wish to play, they were young once, and they still want to be involved in creating the future for their next generation, even if some of them might not get to see the result of their involvement in this creation. They want to remind the youths not to be too engrossed in the material world and not to be complacent on the receiving ends.

“You have to use your hands to make what you want, there is no easy way out. If you do not, then you can’t complain of what people give you at the end.” Another resident said. This reflected the challenges and issues people as well as government faced in reality.

We were inspired and no longer as skeptical before the start of our thesis project where we question the extent of participatory design and how successful will it really be. We believed many are as skeptical. What we wished to say here is, it is possible, but a small step at a time, and a lot of time have to be spent engaging the community in order for participatory design to be successful.

We will be sharing more pictures of the end products in the next post coming up soon! 🙂

Thank you Jalan Kukoh RC, residents of Jalan Kukoh and many who helped make this event successful!:)

To follow on H.I.5’s journey : http://heartinitiative5.wordpress.com/