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HDB Community Building Seminar & Build-a-thon 2016

The HDB Community Building Seminar (CBS) & Build-a-thon 2016 served as platforms for community builders to learn, share, and experience new ways of building communities and enlivening neighbourhoods. The theme for HDB CBS 2016 was ‘Building Communities through Pop-Ups’. Participants discussed how to bring vibrancy and liveliness into our common spaces through quick, light and scalable design interventions, installations, and programming.

At the Build-a-thon, participants also put the tips and techniques picked up from the Seminar straight into use by designing solutions for a real community.

Speakers’ and Moderator’s Profiles

Read on to find out more about our speakers and moderator, and the topics that were shared at our seminar.

Claire Albaret, Keynote Speaker

Place-making: Converting Under-Utilised Spaces into Places-to-be

Cities are flexible, creative and encompassing. So how can we tap on these qualities to enable and empower changes? Place-making seeks to transform pockets of empty or under-utilised spaces into places where communities could enjoy. One such way includes enlivening neighbourhoods through simple, quick, and light pop-up interventions.  

In this keynote address, Claire used stories and case examples to present opportunities that professionals and institutions can bring about in the conversion of unused spaces. These stories highlighted various interesting and creative installations that facilitate greater community usage and bonding.

Speaker’s Profile:

Claire Albaret

With a background as an economist specialising in retail management, Claire Albaret is responsible for the operational management of the Belgian Association of Town Centre Management (AMCV). The association, created in 1997, has pioneered the concept of town centre management in public private partnerships in Belgium. Claire has developed creative methodologies in positioning, place making and management of "Urban Lifestyle Points". These techniques ally marketing and urban planning processes for users to re-own public spaces. Since 2011, in the framework of the European network Lively Cities, she has set up and followed numerous projects of place making in North-west Europe.

She has collaborated at the creation of the TOCEMA (Town Centre Management) quality mark which is ISO 9001 certified. This quality mark defines the European standards of town centre management and actively contributes to the expansion of the European and worldwide town centre management growing network TOCEMA Worldwide.

Find out more about AMCV.

Jean Loo Qingwen

Building Community through Creative Arts

Community arts is a refreshing approach that empowers all involved parties and brings energy to spaces through a shared purpose. Building on her training as a social documentary filmmaker and photojournalist, Jean has found her passion in community arts, where she brings together a network of young artists and creatives for a cause.

Her presentation touched on topics including access to quality preschool education for kids from at-risk communities, social inclusion, active aging, end-of-life issues, and strengthening the Singaporean identity. She shared how these community arts projects were conceptualised, the importance of finding the right partners, and how individuals can harness art and media to build social capital.

Speaker’s Profile:

Jean Loo Qingwen

Jean Loo derives her energy from creating purposeful work. She runs Logue, a content creation studio that builds strong social dialogue through community art, documentary film, and photography. Rooted in the principles of journalism, Logue helps ideas take flight through emotive and credible storytelling. Projects that Jean had embarked on include SUPERHERO ME, a ground-up values-based arts and craft movement where Logue partnered the Lien Foundation to empower children from less privileged and special-needs communities; THE REAL ESTATES, a participatory art project that inspires people to look at neighbourhoods in a new light; and AND SO THEY SAY, an SG50-celebration fund project that celebrates the wisdom of seniors in our lives through an interactive installation launched at the Singapore Night Festival 2015 at four museums. Logue’s clients and partners include IDEO, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (for SG50), National Arts Council, and Monocle.

Jean also collaborated with the National Arts Council (Arts and Communities) on various projects including WHAT I’VE LOVED and FOUR FACES for SilverArts Festival 2013 and 2015, where she brought together young artist teams to reach out to communities that work with the elderly. She has been a NOISE mentor since 2013. 

Find out more about Jean.

Koh Hui Ling

Drama Box's GoLi

Drama Box has been bringing free theatre performances to community spaces since 2000. Hui Ling’s presentation looked at how Drama Box, a non-profit organisation with charity status, worked to fulfil their dream of having a moving inflatable theatre space around public spaces in Singapore, a journey that spanned 5 years. 

Speaker’s Profile:

Koh Hui Ling

Koh Hui Ling was trained in Speech & Drama at the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts & Cultural Troupe from 1988, before venturing into professional theatre in 2001. In 2004, Hui Ling founded NeNeMas (then the education arm of Drama Box). Since then, she has overseen the development of Drama Box's education work in schools and has also developed a set of Drama-in-Education and Theatre-in-Education programmes targeted at youth, teachers and adult-learners.

With many years of teaching and facilitating experience in educational institutions, Hui Ling continues to believe in the humanistic value of education and aspires to touch people with her work. With that passion, she founded ARTivate – the youth wing of Drama Box – in 2007, a 3-year programme that aims to groom the next batch of young artists for the theatre industry. She completed her Masters of Arts in Applied Drama (Distinction) at University of Exeter, UK in 2010. Constantly looking for ways to engage communities, Hui Ling led the team in the launch of Singapore's first inflatable moving theatre - GoLi. In 2013, Hui Ling was awarded the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council, Singapore and the Singapore Youth Award by the National Youth Council. More recently, she received the JCI Top Outstanding Young Persons in 2015.

Find out more about Drama Box.

Adib Jalal

Activating the City – A spotlight on places in transition and public, private and community collaborations

Adib, co-founder of Shophouse & Co, shared about the values that drive the studio and their place-making work. From the premise that creative culture is essential to the vitality of future cities, his work focuses on helping city agencies, companies, and communities to create and sustain vibrant urban places through cultural programmes, place-making strategies, and educational resources.

Speaker’s Profile:

Adib Jalal

Adib Jalal is an urbanist, curator, and writer whose work is a continued exploration on making our cities creative and inclusive places to live in. He is currently the Director of creative place-making studio, Shophouse & Co and previously served as the Festival Director of Archifest, Singapore’s annual festival of ideas for the city in 2012 and 2013. Adib also co-founded a journal about Asian cities called FIVEFOOTWAY in 2007. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Architecture.

Beyond his place-making work, Adib occasionally writes for various design publications and is also a design mentor and educator. His work has been featured in various publications including Monocle Magazine and also prestigious events including the Kaohsiung Design Festival and the Venice Architectural Biennale.

Find out more about Shophouse & Co.

Jason Chen

Reimagining Public Spaces with the Community

Public spaces are a key feature of successful and vibrant cities, and an important component of a high quality living environment. As Singapore’s urban landscape grows denser with a larger population, well-designed public spaces are essential areas provided for people to gather for social activities and serve as leisure and recreational spaces. As part of urban planning and design, public spaces are carefully planned and distributed across the island. However, the success of a particular public space is not solely in the hands of the architect, urban designer or town planner; it relies also on people adopting, using and managing the space – people make places, more than places make people.

In November 2013, URA launched a Public Space Programme - “PubliCity” with aims to engage the community in the design, activation and ownership of public spaces. Jason shared on a few community-initiated projects that demonstrated the possibilities of public space activation by the community in partnership with businesses and government agencies.

Speaker’s Profile:

Jason Chen

Jason Chen is the Director of Place Management at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the national land use planning and conservation agency of Singapore. He joined the organisation in 2008 as a senior place manager and took on his current role as Director of the Place Management Department in 2012, spearheading the place management efforts for Marina Bay and Singapore River by working closely with public and private stakeholders. To create a vibrant and sustainable precinct for the community, the Place Management Department coordinates the public space programme, and organises exciting events such as the annual Marina Bay Singapore Countdown and i Light Marina Bay, Asia’s leading sustainable light art festival. Before joining URA, Jason held various positions in the private sector and the Singapore Armed Forces.  

Find out more about URA’s PubliCity Initative.

Dr Hoe Su Fern, Panel Moderator

Dr Hoe Su Fern

Dr Hoe Su Fern is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), National University of Singapore. Her research areas include arts and cultural policy studies, arts-led urban regeneration, creative place-making, and arts production in Singapore. She is currently principal investigator for two cultural policy projects funded by the National Arts Council, Singapore: (i) arts housing and creative place-making in Singapore and (ii) scoping community arts in Singapore. She also supports the IPS Director in his research, publications and the management of IPS Commons.

Dr Hoe received her PhD in Culture and Communication from the University of Melbourne in 2011. Her thesis focused on the governance of the creative industries in Singapore and Taiwan. Prior to joining IPS, she held appointments at the Ministry of Communications and Information as well as the Supreme Court. She has also taught in the areas of Cultural Studies, Communication Design, and Media and Communications in Singapore and Australia.

Find out more about Dr Hoe Su Fern.

Post Seminar Materials

View the paper presentations shared at the seminar and a summary of the panel discussion.

Paper Presentations    Slides Summary
Keynote Address- Placemaking: Converting Under-Utilised Spaces into Places-to-be by Ms Claire Albaret, AMCV 
(PDF, 38MB)
(PDF, 235MB)
Building Community through Creative Arts by Ms Jean Loo  
(PDF, 15MB)
(PDF, 231MB)
Drama Box’s Go-Li by Ms Koh Hui Ling 
(PDF, 1MB)
(PDF, 214MB) 
Activating the City by Mr Adib Jalal  
(PDF, 4MB)
(PDF, 229MB) 
Reimagining Public Spaces with the Community by Mr Jason Chen
(PDF, 5MB)
(PDF, 215KB)
Panel discussion -
(PDF, 193KB)


HDB Build-a-thon 2016

Find out about the HDB Build-a-thon challenge and the winning ideas that emerged.

The second edition of the HDB Build-a-thon aimed to crowdsource creative ideas on community bonding and town vibrancy, from people of all walks of life. Equipped with learning points from the HDB Community Building Seminar, participants were given a real life scenario to brainstorm and prototype ideas that will enhance neighbourly interactions, town identity, and sense of belonging.

The context was set in Bedok Town with the challenge statement of:

“How might we create a lively Bedok Town Centre?”

Winning Ideas


Build-a-thon winning ideas, Adopt-a-chair
To build a stronger sense of ownership, the community can adopt drum-shaped chairs sponsored by commercial entities. The community can decorate their adopted chairs and place them at the plaza as 'art pieces'. The chairs are also designed to be stackable and multi-purposes.  
Build-a-thon winning ideas, Adopt-a-chair


The Drumbeats of Bedok


Build-a-thon winning ideas, The Drumbeats of Bedok
“Bedok” (from the Malay word “Beduk”) refers to a very large drum. Drawing inspiration from this, the idea is to create an iconic “Beduk” centerpiece which residents can identify with and passers-by can play with. Smaller drums, co-created by the community, will be placed around the plaza. Each performance should involve the community and show how different drumbeats can result in one Bedok heartbeat.
Build-a-thon winning ideas, The Drumbeats of Bedok


Balik Kampong Festival


Build-a-thon winning ideas, Balik Kampong Festival
Residents can look forward to a festival filled with activities such as movie screenings which are accompanied by pop-up food carts featuring our local delights. The festival will also feature larger-than-life childhood games with giant game pieces. The objective is to make Bedok Town Square a Kampong that residents look forward to coming home to. Balik Kampong!
Build-a-thon winning ideas, Balik Kampong Festival
These three winning ideas were showcased for public voting at Bedok Town Square during the HDB Community Week 2016, where the Balik Kampong Festival emerged as the most popular idea.
Following the results of the public voting, the Balik Kampong Festival was organised on 18 Mar 2017 at Bedok Town Square. In line with the kampong theme, the festival featured a movie screening of the film “Long Long Time Ago 2”, performances and traditional snacks such as kacang puteh and malt candy. Visitors also enjoyed life-sized board games and some games of yesteryears like chap teh and aeroplane. The event attracted an estimated number of 1,800 visitors.
  Community Building Seminar

Photos and Video

Check out the photos and video from the HDB Community Building Seminar and Build-a-thon 2016.