SINGAPORE - After more than two years of renovations, Tiong Bahru Community Centre reopened on Sunday (July 23), with new elderly-friendly features and more efficient use of its space.
Residents can look forward to new activities at the centre, which could range from coding courses for children to zumba and trampoline classes for fitness enthusiasts.
The centre's two buildings, previously linked by an open, unsheltered space, are now connected by a covered bridge.
The premises have also been made barrier-free, with ramps added to make moving around more convenient for wheelchair-users and families with young kids in strollers.
Built in 1951 during the colonial days, the centre was Singapore's first community centre and has served generations of residents through its facilities and programmes. This is its fifth major facelift.
With the latest refurbishments, more activities can be held at the centre.
The multi-purpose hall now has a higher ceiling, making it suitable for gymnastics or cheerleading practices to be held there.
The previous offices on the ground floor have been converted into function rooms for various activities such as dance, calligraphy and fitness classes.
And following calls from residents to preserve the remaining two former air raid shelters on the site, the Tiong Bahru Community Centre management committee has converted one shelter into an air-conditioned culinary studio. The committee is considering renting the other shelter out.
Committee chairman Tan Siew Peer said the centre was renovated partly to cater to the needs of younger families that have recently moved into the area.
"In the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s, a lot of young people left Tiong Bahru to live elsewhere. At one stage it was an old town, there were a lot of old folks so the community centre was underused," said Madam Tan, 63.
"With the building of new flats and private condominiums, a lot of young families are moving back to Tiong Bahru."
At the centre's official opening, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah said a community centre "must be the heartbeat and pulse of the community".
Noting that the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru division has one of the youngest demographic in the GRC, she said she is keen to develop programmes centred around coding for young children and young families.
"Coding is the way of the future," she said. "It's important for children to have a working knowledge of coding but we want to do it in a way that's fun, that they can do with their families, so it doesn't become yet another academic subject. I'm hoping to build an anchor programme around that."
Housewife Tang Sui Wah, who lives in the vicinity, said she found the centre to be more spacious than before.
The 77-year-old added: " I may consider taking up the new dance classes if they are suitable for people my age."