Little garden with swings add colour to Aljunied Crescent neighbourhood
SINGAPORE — Standing in sharp contrast to an elderly home in the sleepy neighbourhood of Aljunied Crescent is a cheery little garden, filled with bright yellow swings and wooden pallets transformed into planter boxes of pandan leaves, brinjal plants and herbs.
The feature was installed half a year ago as part of a project between non-profit design consultancy Participate in Design (PID) and the MacPherson’s Citizens Consultative Committee. It is roughly the size of a badminton court, and right outside the Geylang East Home for the Aged, sandwiched between two blocks of flats.
Elderly home resident Thomas Yu, 77, said that the installation of the swings has livened up the once-quiet area. “At least there’s a starting point for people to meet now. After the renovation, we see children coming here to play,” he said in Mandarin. “I’ll also come out of the home to sit at the swings after dinner.”
The home’s project executive Lawrence Chong added that he had nailed down the swings to ensure safe usage for the children. “Boys are boys. They like to hold onto the bars and swing themselves,” he said, adding that the swings are a hot spot for couples, too.
Prior to the refurbishment, the space was an empty grass patch. The consultancy conducted engagement sessions with the home’s elderly occupants, as well as residents living in the neighbourhood, and found that they had negative ideas about the space, such as it being a dumping ground for litter.
“We wanted to make the place happier, and we wanted to change the mindset that the area was full of rental homes and for the elderly,” said Mr Larry Yeung, the consultancy’s project associate.
During a community design workshop held by the consultancy, some of the residents came just to complain, he noted. “But after that, they become more understanding.”
These days, the complaints about the area mainly relate to the noise created by children playing, said Mr Yeung.
The installations works were funded by grants amounting to S$20,000 from the Housing and Development Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
On the need for having common spaces for residents, MacPherson Aljunied Crescent Zone 2 Residents’ Committee chairman Pang Kok Meng said: “Some residents don’t know what’s happening outside. They don’t read the news. After marketing, they go back home. It’s good for them to have a space to bond and catch up with what’s happening around the neighbourhood.”
A second round of renovation will be carried out later this year, to add a trellis and a bar table to the area.
“Once we have the shelter up, we can organise events and have activities such as gardening talks,” said Mr Pang, referring to the trellis.
Retiree Charlie Ng, who has been living in the estate for over two decades, hopes for more features for his grandchildren. “A see-saw would be good. Right now, my grandchildren prefer the playground to this area,” said Mr Ng, 70.