Enabling Village: An inclusive environment for integration
November 14, 2022
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Disability is defined as anything that impairs—or rather, differentiates—a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities. It may include physical, intellectual/developmental, and sensory differences. While some disabilities are visible, others may not be apparent.
About 5,000 new cases of developmental delay was diagnosed in pre-schoolers in 2020, with the number likely to increase every year.1 Around 50 per cent of adults with disabilities are employed across various sectors in Singapore.2 However, a survey conducted by the National Council of Social Services found that 62 per cent of people with disabilities did not feel included or accepted, and felt that they lacked opportunities to reach their potential and contribute to society.3 In the senior population, Singapore’s elderly has a relatively longer life expectancy, but those aged 60 and above will typically spend 3 to 8 years living with some form of disabilities.4
In Bukit Merah, Singapore, the porous and accessible Enabling Village was designed to create an inclusive environment by integrating people with disabilities into the community, championing independence with care-giving and empowering people with skills training.
The project reused the old Bukit Merah Vocational Institute, which was previously fenced-in, inward-looking and was cut off from its neighbourhood. The new master plan instead conceived Enabling Village as a new community centre and opened up the space as a park, connecting people with disabilities and the elderly with the public.
With a programme that mixed community amenities, lifestyle retail facilities and inclusive spaces, the complex provided a range of services that focuses on disability-inclusive training and employment.
Despite the challenging terrain, all physical barriers were removed from the design. Notably, a hillside area was converted from an unusable space to become a garden-like amphitheatre, offering wheelchair access via built-in ramps.
The design extended such linkages, creating a variety of shared gardens and disability-friendly amenities, including wheelchair access in interior and exterior spaces; classrooms for learning new skills and job training; a dedicated caregiver space; an inclusive playground and an inclusive pre-school, which is being replicated across Singapore; a community gym with specialised equipment; and an assistive technology centre.
Enabling Village was recently awarded 2022 ULI Global Awards for Excellence in October. It is planned for future extension, including a four-storey building that expands more support options for people with disabilities and their caregivers.
Lengkok Bahru, Singapore
Gross Floor Area
15,025 square metres
SG Enable Ltd
Patrick Bingham-Hall; Edward Hendricks; WOHA
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