Neighbourhood design ideas for community bonding to be tried out in Tampines Central

Tampines Central 1 just outside the bus interchange on April 23, 2013. Two design ideas for Housing Board towns will be tried out in Tampines Central from June this year to May next year, to see if they can promote community bonding. -- PHOTO: ST FIL
Tampines Central 1 just outside the bus interchange on April 23, 2013. Two design ideas for Housing Board towns will be tried out in Tampines Central from June this year to May next year, to see if they can promote community bonding. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two design ideas for Housing Board towns will be tried out in Tampines Central from June this year to May next year, to see if they can promote community bonding.

One is a 'social linkway', which turns public walkways into more active social spaces by adding seating or exhibits, for instance. Another is a one-stop hub for community activities which can help develop ground-up initiatives.

These ideas come from a year-long study which the Housing Board conducted with the National University of Singapore's Centre of Sustainable Asian Cities and Sociology department. If successful, they will be incorporated into HDB's plans for new areas such as Bidadari and Tampines North.

"We want to make all HDB towns what we call modern kampungs, that means modern in all these facilities but at the same time with good old kampung spirit," said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, who shared the study's results at the launch of this year's HDB Community Week on Saturday.

Based on a survey of 2,200 residents from five HDB towns, and six focus group discussions, the study identified four ways to design housing precincts so as to promote community interaction.

Two are the social linkway and the community hub, or "neighbourhood incubator". The others are clustering play areas, such as having a children's playground with a fitness corner, and creating "micro-communities", such as having shared areas on every floor.

Besides the design of the physical environment, holding events in public spaces and giving residents more freedom to use such spaces can also promote community interaction, the study found.