Activate and Incentivise The Use of Growing Number of Vertical Greens in Singapore

A case study to draw both a conceptual and visual link between ground level and elevated surfaces.

Photo by Chutter Snap on Unsplash
Project Year 3 Weeks, 2018
Area of Work
  • Graphic Design
  • Design Research
  • Experience Design

Between 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years old will double from 11% to 22%. 1 in 4 Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above by 2030 - this is an extremely rapid change brought about by the post-war baby boom, increased life expectancy, low fertility rate, and controlled immigration.

The opportunity is to transform the Singaporean society to become more age-friendly so that the ageing population can continue to contribute meaningfully to the society and economy. The given sub-theme "Transport" has been identified within the unifying theme of Design for Our Future Selves, in the context of ageing population in Singapore.

This project is an initiative led by Royal College of the Arts. The aim of GoGlobal is to conduct design projects, which have a wider social, political, and geographic impact.


This project is a collaboration between students from LASALLE College of the Arts, NTU ADM, and RCA. My role in this project includes graphic design, user interviews, conceptualising, and storyboarding.


RCA: Andrew Earls, Kevin , Flora Weils, Benton Ching
LASALLE: Koh Wan Xin, Zhi Liang
NTU ADM: Melissa Ho , Jason Fok

Initial Discussion
A discussion map on the idea of "Transport". What does it mean to be transported or the meaning of transport?

The Idea of Transport

Transport can be about the space, the people, the physical transport, and as a journey itself. The initial discussion of "Transport" revolves around the vague idea of what we think transport can be and will be. Key takeaways from the initial discussion mainly consists of two points:

A Collective Identity — Identity was often given to people in a public ride no matter who you are. Seats were allocated to the elderly, pregnant women, and the disabled. These people can be someone of highest or lowest status outside of a train ride but inside a public transport, they're valued and respected by everyone because of a seat reserved for them. You can be someone famous outside of a train ride but once inside a public transport, a collective identity is given as everyone is a passenger.

Transport as Time Travel Device — Do we clash ourselves with time or does time clash through us? This notion was discovered by the Chinese words “前天後天” otherwise known as the day before and after. It is interesting to know that 前 means forward and 後 (hou) means backwards. However, if we place it in the time context, it suddenly becomes the day before and the day after. This notion symbolises that the time perhaps is a fixed idea and we are the one going after time.

Nostalgia — A Common Ground for Old and Young?

Interviews & Insights

Our main goal of these interviews was to grasp the idea of "Nostalgia" from the elderly in Singapore. We hypothesise that elderly have a higher notion of nostalgic feeling in comparison with the younger audience. Does nostalgia still exist in Singapore where change is the constant in almost everything? What does the various marketing SG50 nostalgia campaigns have on the elderly? How can we understand the relation between transport and nostalgia in a given space? We are cautious not to dwell too deep into nostalgia and be blinded by the process.

Three locations were chosen as the group splits up. We went to Tiong Bahru, Chinatown, and an old record store at Macpherson. These locations were chosen as they have a more elderly living in the area and the record store is a representation of a store that exists from the past to present.

  • Insight Trip: Tiong Bahru
  • Insight Trip: Chinatown
  • Insight Trip: Record Store
  • insight-01

    Nostalgia Is Gimmicky.

    We identified that multiple restaurants and businesses use nostalgia as a form of monetary value. This can be linked to the past SG50 notion that caused so much commotion about being nostalgic about their old toys, sweets, books, and even slangs.

    Elderly, however, do not really bother with nostalgia and only speak about happiness now.

  • insight-02

    Resourcefulness is what almost every Elderly has.

    Observational studies were conducted on two street buskers in Chinatown. By observing both the Uncles, they are all resourceful people as they utilised trolleys to pack everything they needed for the day. Similarly, the flute Uncle also knew how to upcycle materials to be made into another product. This sense of resourcefulness is present in both of them.

  • insight-03

    Old is Worth Celebrating.

    Interview trip to an old record store at MacPherson pointed us once again to the direction that Nostalgia is gimmicky. Elderly entered the shop to purchase records as a celebration and pride because they could afford to buy a record. It is not so much about reliving the past but more for practical reasons.

First Conceptualisation

First Conceptualisation
[Fig.01] Tabulated insights from study trips.

The summary was separated into 3 different sections; the first is the concept of time and mobility as an end; the second is about the identity, duality, and paradoxes; the last one the notion of transition. The left column summarises the insights we gathered from various interviews and research trips.

We also realised that what we were doing was not really for our futureselves yet as the direction was pointing us to everywhere. We also decided to drop the topic on “Nostalgia” away as we identified that most of the people we interviewed were actually people who were more looking forward to the future. They are contented with what they have now and do not miss the past as much as we imagined them to.

[Fig.02] Feasible Ideas.

[Fig.03] Practical Ideas

The method of mass generating ideas is very crucial in the early stage as we do not need to think critically if our ideas will work or not. The separation to practical, feasible, and conceptual works further help to narrow our ideas to a few workable ideas.


The 10-Min World

With none of the ideas working and making sense to us, we re-analysed our field trips earlier on and attempted to find a new potential problem.

The 10 Minute World is built upon the earlier LTA insights of having a station within a walkable 8-min distance from anywhere we stay. We forsee that the problem that might appear out of this 10min world is that people will stop exploring and will be lazy to go out.

With this new direction, we decided to revisit some of the places to know what the people think about the convenience of the transport.

Trip to Kampung Admiralty

Kampung Admiralty is the first-of-its-kind development in Singapore, which integrates housing for the elderly with a wide range of social, healthcare, communal, commercial, and retail facilities. The place offers a wide range of facilities and amenities for both young and old in the community. It has been designed with a variety of community spaces such as the "Citizen Farm" and "Rooftop Garden" to encourage community involvement and ownership.

Kampung Admiralty was chosen for the second research trip as the location combines a mixture of younger and older audiences. This provided us with a chance to interview a bigger group of audiences to understand their behaviour and concerns with the place. In addition, the open-rooftop garden implemented is also part of the future-plan for Singapore. Thus, creating an opportunity to identify issues with interaction of the vertical greens in Singapore.

[Fig.04] The Point of Interest: Rooftop Garden

[Fig.05] Medical facilities
[Fig.06] Ammenities build with elderly in mind.
[Fig.07] Barricades to prevent accidental falls.

The trip to Kampung Admiralty was to identify and clear our questions on the idea of a 10 minute world. The following are some of the important questions that we thought of.

What happens to the public space at a specific time? Will it be flooded only at the area within the 10min time frame? Will a habit be developed to think that anything beyond 10 min is far? In a 10min world, will a biking and walking culture be formed? How do you discover a routine within a 10min time frame?

[Fig.08] The brothers from the third group of interviewees.

We interviewed a total of 3 groups of people. The first is a security guard; the second is a group of mothers, and the last is a pair of brothers. All of them do not stay in Kampung Admiralty but are first or second time visitors to the place. We collated some key insights from the interview.

Any Journey above 10 Minute is Far

The group of mothers stated that they will not be coming back to Kampung Admiralty for a while as they stay 15-20min walk away. The pair of brothers, on the contrary, mentioned that they will come back again to the rooftop garden as they live 10 minutes away.

Private or Public

All of the groups interviewed mentioned that they intially do not know that the rooftop garden is open to public. This is so as many of the vertical gardens in Singapore are considered a private space.

Escaping the Neighbourhood

The group also mentioned that they would rather go to somewhere further to meet their friends and families instead of around their neighbourhood. They take it as a break from the daily routine.

How might we encourage exploration in the neighbourhood's rooftop garden?


Designing an object which encourages exploration

With a common consensus, our solution should contain a X-Factor to encourage the behaviour. The X-Factor can be something that will be repetitive and cling onto something that we encounter in our everyday life.

What interventions/experiments and experiences can we make to facilitate motion/vertical mobility? Visualising perfect journey(s) from ground to garden, develop pull strategies (incentives), new ways of moving vertically, signals that give permission etc. are all part of the solution.

[Fig.09] Quick ideation process using the 2 minute rule.


We have identified that the trend of moving greeneries upward have become common due to LUSH 3.0. This resulted in what used to be a public space (park, garden) to be moved upwards. As such, many people do not know about the existence of the park that is above their head.

We decided to embark on a series of experimentations, gearing towards sensual experiences. Our experiment uses some of the traditional methods such as paper phone cup to test out a hypothesis.

  • Experiment 01
  • Experiment 02
  • Experiment 03
  • HACKING ELEVATORS — Can we “smooth out the curve” of vertical transport to make it as seamless and flowing as horizontal transport.


    By introducing elements of transit into vertical transport, we can make the space more relaxing and allow it to be part of the journey.


    We placed a chair in the elevator with a small sign on it saying: “Please, take a seat!”. We also tied a handle to the lift saying: "Hold Tight".

    • “Time went slower”
    • “I could put my bags down and relax.”
    • “Everyone else was standing so I didn’t feel like sitting.”
    • “It was a privilege.”

  • PAPER PHONE CUP — What if you could draw people’s attention vertically with sound objects?


    By playfully dangling a paper cup phone from a higher level, people walking past will be encouraged to look up and interact with the observers.


    Paper Cup Phone lowered onto passers-by from a bridge, prompting them to interact with observers on the space vertically above them.


    For some reason, most participants were female. Overwhelmingly positive reactions from people. People enjoyed the playful interaction in the experiment.

  • BE IMAGINATIVE — How do you get from A to B?


    Collaboration design across citizens and user of the space will bring out a new idea beyond just a bridge.


    We created a mini mock-up on paper to test out people's imagination. Tests were conducted at NTU and LASALLE to engage participation.


    Most of the drawings ended up as junk but some of them were still useful and practical. Examples were like the slides or fireman ladders that engaged playfulness and practicality.


The Solution

Identifying that the 3 experiments did not provide concrete or "wow" solutions, we digged into the responses gathered from the experiments. Each of the experiments did provide it's value to the final solution.

A periscope idea was created to see if we could create the illusion of connecting the horizontal and vertical space. By showing some physical (experiment 1) or audio stimuli (in experiment 2), passers-by will be incentiviced to go up to interact with what they saw.

The New Experience

Through the various interactions with Singaporeans, the solution is all about creating an experience for the residents or public visiting Kampung Admiralty. Wan Xin and I crafted a set of stories to depict a typical experience a user will get while walking past the periscope and the end result. The following is the storyboard and the final video.

[Fig.10] Storyboard drawn by Flora. Conceptualised by Wan Xin and I.


The Periscope

CityScope draws on the periscope as a means of drawing both a conceptual and visual link between ground level and elevated surfaces. The viewer is transposed to the roof above, whilst the roof is brought down to the street. The effect is a playful counter to the social and psychological barriers which may impede people from using vertically segregated spaces.

We imagine these periscopic cracks as splits in the seam of the city fabric which invites passers-by to explore roof gardens, sky terraces and vertical greeneries in Singapore.


GoGlobal! 2018 Night

CityScope was introduced and showcased to the public at LASALLE College of the Arts alongside with other projects from GoGlobal. Friends and staffs from RCA, NTU, and LASALLE College of the Arts were invited to the showcase. The project will be archived in the GoGlobal initiative.

CityScope and It's Potential Future.

CityScope seeks to present a perspective on the trajectory of Singapore’s urban development. The main driver of our speculation was the city’s aim to reconcile urban development and the proliferation of green spaces. A key initiative within its urban redevelopment policy is the LUSH (Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises) programme, which provides guidelines for replacing greenery taken away in the development of buildings, by incorporating green spaces vertically. A secondary context which informed our speculation is the development and dependence on more efficient modes of both transport and navigation in Singapore.


Feedbacks, Features and Refinements

CityScope may not be a project directly related to "Transport" but it encourages the transportation between places. The panels were interested in our project as it tackles mobility and transport in a different light.

This project is my first collaboration between disciplinaries and I find it enriching in the skills, knowledge, and insights learned. I am given the opportunity to attend various talks conducted by different organisations in Singapore and had my first-hand look into what design can do beyond graphical means.

It is also very much about the culture and understanding between students from different schools and countries. All these provided new perspectives and encouraged the growth personally and professionally as a designer.