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Ready, Somerset, go! Young step up to shape vision of youth belt

Young Singaporeans can have their say and make their mark on the revamped Somerset Belt, which is set to be a vibrant youth precinct as part of the Government's plan to rejuvenate Orchard Road

National Youth Council, Somerset Belt, Realise Your Somerset
A group photo taken on Prototype Day, where some selected ideas from the Urban Hackathon were tried out along the Somerset Belt. This photo was taken last year before Covid-19 safe distancing measures kicked in. PHOTO: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH

Imagine strolling down Somerset Road surrounded by vibrant art murals, music from buskers, bustling art markets and outdoor movie screenings. Seeking respite from the busy thoroughfare, you cross the road to enjoy calm, green landscaping.

This is how some youth in Singapore envision the Somerset Belt, a stretch that extends from *SCAPE to the junction of Somerset and Killiney roads.

Set to be a vibrant youth precinct as part of the Government's wider plan to rejuvenate Orchard Road into a must-visit lifestyle and leisure destination, the belt has been and will continue to be shaped by young Singaporeans.

National Youth Council, Somerset Belt, Realise Your Somerset
A site map of the Somerset Belt. GRAPHIC: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL, MINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH

More than 9,300 youths across three phases of a broad-based engagement and co-creation process have worked with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the National Youth Council to co-create and envision the Somerset Belt since last May.

Their input and insights have shaped the Somerset Belt Masterplan, which presents an overall vision of the possibilities of programming, design, planning and management in the precinct.

Ms Tan Jia Yi, 31, chief operating officer of design agency in the wild, hopes that the belt will be a shared space filled with activities for youth to develop new innovations.

"For me, Somerset Belt is much more than a physical space. Rather, I see it as a physical manifestation of youths' aspirations and the endless possibilities, where youths are encouraged to experiment - no less in a relatively safe environment where they know they will not be judged, knowing that they are supported by MCCY and the National Youth Council, their peers and the entire community at Somerset Belt."

Last year, a working panel of youth leaders, business leaders and government representatives, co-led by Senior Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng and Love Bonito's chief commercial officer Dione Song, helped to distill such feedback and insights to guide the development of the masterplan.

The Somerset Belt Masterplan is a key project under the SG Youth Action Plan - a platform for youth to shape their vision for the country and take charge of developing and driving plans. It is part of larger efforts to provide opportunities for and empower youth to be a force for change.

Guided by youth input, the masterplan defines the precinct as a place for:

  • Multiple dimensions and use
  • Creative expression
  • Exploration
  • Dynamic and continuous transformation
  • Youth to be with community and self
  • Community partnerships

 

Somerset Belt will see spaces carved out for vibrant street activities, as well as quieter, more reflective pursuits, as part of a "dual spine" experience along Somerset Road and Exeter Road.

Spaces within the belt will cater to a variety of youth interests, subcultures and lifestyles to foster greater interactions among youth and build a young and vibrant community. The area will also have flexible infrastructure that support elements of creative expression, social impact and sustainability.

Mr David Chua, chief executive of National Youth Council, said: "We want the youth to actively participate in the creation process for them to be the change and realise their ideas. Not all ideas will come to fruition, but the process will allow them to continue engaging their peers and have a real stake in the outcome of the Somerset Belt."

What we want

Youth from all walks of life share their hopes and dreams for the Somerset Belt.

National Youth Council, Somerset Belt, Realise Your Somerset
Ms Camy Tan, 33, participated in a hackathon to brainstorm ideas for the Somerset Belt Masterplan. PHOTO: CAMY TAN

"The space will be more meaningful if there are projects such as collaborative virtual exhibitions, virtual busking sessions by local and international artists, and programmes to foster entrepreneurship and creativity among youth."

Camy Tan (above), 33, marketing consultant

Ms Tan participated in a hackathon to brainstorm ideas for the masterplan.

 

National Youth Council, Somerset Belt, Realise Your Somerset
Ms Carmen Low, 33, is a member of the Somerset Belt Working Panel. PHOTO: CARMEN LOW

"I envision the Somerset Belt to be a safe communal space for youth to express their interests and passions in a respectful manner."

Carmen Low (above), 33, entrepreneur

Ms Low is a member of the Somerset Belt Working Panel and the director of Afterglow Concepts.

 

National Youth Council, Somerset Belt, Realise Your Somerset
Mr Joel Lim, 27, is a project manager of SHINE NOW, a youth conference powered by the National Youth Council and organised by a team of youth from Gushcloud. PHOTO: JOEL LIM

"Newer variations of e-commerce activities such as live commerce and social commerce have emerged this year, which brings new opportunities for programmers and retailers to rethink their strategies."

Joel Lim (above), 27, senior public relations and events executive

Mr Lim is a project manager of SHINE NOW, a youth conference and media platform powered by the National Youth Council and organised by a team of youth from Gushcloud.

 

National Youth Council, Somerset Belt, Realise Your Somerset
Mr Kent Teo, 35, is the founder and chief executive officer of Invade, which is behind large festivals such as Artbox Singapore and Shilin Singapore. PHOTO: KENT TEO

"Digital features can enhance the visitor experience. We could see an exhibition-style retail space with interactive touchpoints such as live art installations."

Kent Teo (above), 35, entrepreneur

Mr Teo is the founder and chief executive officer of events and space-activating company Invade. His company is behind large-format retail-centric festivals such as Artbox Singapore and Shilin Singapore. Invade was appointed a long-term thrift market organiser in *SCAPE a couple of years ago.

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