Initiative brings young & old in S'pore together to reimagine urban spaces for themselves

Turns out, seniors really love gardening.

Fiona Tan | September 19, 2021, 02:48 PM

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Some young and slightly-less-young seniors in Singapore were brought together to give their take on how to make urban spaces into inclusive environments suitable for all ages.

Uniting young and not-so-young Singaporeans

A total of 100 participants from various primary and secondary schools together with 25 senior participants aged 60 to 75 from ACE Seniors, Singapore Anglican Community Services, TOUCH Community Services, People’s Association, Lions Befrienders, and Council for Third Age were brought together through the Inclusive Spaces initiative by Frasers Property.

There were 22 teams in total, with each team made up of one senior matched with four to six students, along with a youth mentor, and a Frasers Property employee.

Based on the input from the senior in their team, students were tasked to develop a prototype for an inclusive real estate space with the guidance and support from the team's older members.

Three winning prototypes from each key area that would affect active ageing – daily living, mental well-being, and social living – were presented at the Inclusive Spaces event on Sep. 17.

Winners from Westwood Secondary

Mothership had the opportunity to speak to the winners from the Social Living category, who built their prototype, Neutral Storm Village, on the concept of an interactive green space.

The students in the team were Hilman, Claire, Xin Yi, Zee Hoon, Tristan and Jun Hong, all of whom are Secondary 3 students from Westwood Secondary School.

Winners from Westwood. Image courtesy of Frasers Property.

The students' prototype has an exercise corner, a waterfall, one library, two huts, three kampung houses, and a large greenhouse in the centre as the heart of the space.

While the space has a lot going on, the students were intentional on the creative direction that they were headed: to create an inclusive and interactive green activity hub for the young and old with a nostalgic kampung vibe combined with modern comforts.

Speaking to Mothership virtually, the students revealed that they had spent hours after school to toil over their prototype at least twice a week, and took four weeks to meet the submission deadline in August 2021.

Westwood Secondary School's team. Image courtesy of Frasers Property.

During which, three key factors were taken into consideration.

Seniors love gardening

From their interactions with the senior, the students emerged with one valuable insight: Seniors love gardening.

Equipped with that knowledge, the students included a greenhouse at the centre of their prototype, where seniors can do gardening and trade gardening tips with others.

Kampung spirit

Besides the greenhouse, the rest of the prototype also leaned heavily on the idea of a green space.

This was to simulate the rustic landscape typically found in kampungs, introduce more green spaces, and serve as a breakaway from the skyscrapers and HDB estates so commonly found in Singapore's concrete jungle.

Restricted from visiting his kampung in Malaysia during Hari Raya, a student shared that he was inspired to bring the sense of harmony and community from his kampung into Singapore.

Seniors want to interact with younger generations

This perhaps explains the three kampung houses in the students' prototype, where each house a different modern activity, such as movies within a structure reminiscent of those found in villages in the past.

Through the various activities in the library, two huts, and three kampung houses, the students hope to promote interaction between seniors and the younger generation, which was another interest shared by the senior.

What seniors want

The Westwood student's winning entry was in line with the wishes expressed by seniors, as shared by a participating senior Rita.

A semi-retiree from the Merdeka Generation, Rita wishes for the "kampung spirit to come back", as she believes in its importance.

Rita, who is an active person and an avid trekker, shared that she enjoys the park connectors in Singapore. In turn, she is delighted to have more of such green spaces in Singapore.

Having learnt from interacting with the younger students, Rita said that it was "good to talk with these kids" and her current goal is to "participate, and interact with all levels of people, whether young, old, rich, [or] poor".

She said: "It is good culture to do this kind of intergenerational activities."

Participants learnt more about each other

Through the initiative, some of the Westwood students said that they now see the seniors in a different light, and were more open to approaching them.

Frasers Property's Group Chief Corporate Officer, Chia Khong Shoong said: "We are heartened by the innovative proposals from student participants, made possible by the open sharing and strong collaboration from active seniors, underlining the benefit of intergenerational dialogue."

Chia also elaborated on the significance of the Inclusive Spaces initiative:

"Through this initiative, we hope to develop greater empathy in our youth and tap on their creative energy for ideas that make real estate spaces more inclusive for our Merdeka Generation. With a fast-greying society, having spaces and community initiatives that promote the well-being of our seniors is even more pressing."

Rita was amazed by the students' abilities and said: "I think these children are definitely much smarter than I was, when I was at their age."

Madhu Verma, an Inclusive Spaces guest judge and founder of Design for Change Singapore, said: "The younger participants were surprised to find seniors living actively and wanting purposeful lives, while seniors were amazed at children’s understanding and interest to build a better world for them."

For their winning entries, the students from Westwood Secondary School, and the two other winning teams from Edgefield Primary School and Yumin Primary School, each walked away with a team trophy, along with a guided workshop to create their own terrarium.

Edgefield Primary School. Image courtesy of Frasers Property.

Yumin Primary School. Image courtesy of Frasers Property.

For more information about the inclusive spaces initiative, click here.

Top image from Housing & Development Board and Frasers Property