Idea brings colour to Yishun

Ms Hoo Xin Yu and her husband Gilbert Cher kickstarted a community project involving some 100 residents to paint a mural on one of the void deck walls.
Ms Hoo Xin Yu and her husband Gilbert Cher kickstarted a community project involving some 100 residents to paint a mural on one of the void deck walls.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

A new $500,000 Housing Board fund was launched last month to encourage community-building projects, similar to the annual Good Neighbours Project (GNP) competition introduced in 2014. A total of 83 GNP ideas out of 192 have been implemented since, involving over 14,000 residents. Another 2,000 residents are likely to take part in projects over the rest of the year. Yeo Sam Jo looks at some of the initiatives.

Getting all hands on deck

What was once a white wall at the void deck of Block 347A, Yishun Avenue 11, now boasts a mural bursting with colour, thanks to architectural manager Gilbert Cher and his landscape architect wife Hoo Xin Yu.

The artistic couple, who have lived in the block for two years, decided this year to rally their neighbours to create a mural that represents their six-block Adora Green estate.

The result was a whimsical map of the neighbourhood, filled with colourful illustrations of flowers, kites, the nearby park and pond, and wildlife - ducks, turtles, even a giraffe.

"We'd always wanted to dress up the estate and give it more character instead of having just blank walls," said Ms Hoo, 28. "Everyone can point at the mural and say, 'Hey, I painted that tree' or 'I painted that bird'. The kids especially remember these things and feel proud of it."

The artwork took over a month to conceptualise as it was built on popular consensus .

Mr Cher and Ms Hoo conducted a brainstorming session on March 19, when several families were asked to sketch items in their neighbourhood that they loved.

The couple then compiled their ideas into two designs, which they put to a vote in April.

Posters with the designs were put up, and residents were asked to place a sticker on their preferred option. Together with an online poll, about 580 residents voted .

Roughly 100 people, mostly young families with children, turned up on April 23, a Saturday morning, to paint the mural together. It took about 10 hours that day to complete, although Mr Cher and Ms Hoo spent the next day touching it up.

IT manager Wong Boon Hong, 41, who joined the painting session, said it was a good chance to meet neighbours whom he had known only through the estate's Facebook group. "Sometimes, neighbours complain about others on Facebook. But when you get to know each other personally, you become more tolerant," said Mr Wong.

Indeed, the painting has inspired some kind acts.

Mr Cher, 30, recalled: "One neighbour loaned us a ladder so we could reach the higher parts. Another baked some orange chiffon cake and offered it to everyone."

The experience has left some residents wanting more. "Some asked if we will do murals for other blocks," said Mr Cher. "It's something that we're definitely interested in."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Idea brings colour to Yishun'. Print Edition | Subscribe