Void decks are a hallmark of the Singapore landscape, built initially to provide community spaces when public housing estates went high-rise. Yet today, they are rather devoid of activities as compared with the days of yore when kids turned them into impromptu playgrounds. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim's suggestion in Parliament last week to convert common areas into maker-spaces for the community is worth pursuing. He noted that tinkerers have set up shop in void decks, offering free repair services to residents.
But why limit usage to just repair services? Local leather brand Reservoir Dayak uses a neighbourhood void deck as a workspace to produce its leather goods, for instance. Such entrepreneurial spirit should be encouraged as it can bring vibrancy back to available or neglected public spaces. Given Singapore's geographical limitations, there are better ways to utilise public spaces and underused facilities. The National Parks Board's (NParks) The Incubator space at Esplanade Park is a showcase for how public spaces can host small entrepreneurs to better effect. NParks' various mobile booths at parks can also function as incubators for budding businesses. Similarly, underutilised spaces such as warehouses or vacancies in light industrial buildings can be considered for arts housing or entertainment purposes.