Benjamin Chong & Kyaw Htet Paing
Canopy Village re-imagines the notion of playgrounds, a space which is an intrinsic part of every child’s life, not for young children, but for young adults. As children grow up, they lose the need to move around using both hands and feet, crawling and climbing, as they start to rely on their legs to walk. Canopy Village aims to bring back the childlike experiences of exploring space in three dimensions.
By traversing these outgrown but familiar play spaces, individuals are encouraged to remove themselves from a sense of time and place, and recall their childhood experiences, while creating new ones. Just as playgrounds are social nodes for children, Canopy Village hopes to be a flexible meeting point which invites youth to participate in creative exploration and shaping a community identity.
The design incorporates rigid scaffolding frames, a commonly overlooked element of Singapore, with soft climbable netting, to create an undulating landscape inviting all to explore.
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In arranging the programmes, the design first identified the location of the existing trees and their canopy cover. These shaded spaces would be ideal for relaxing away from the hot sun. Next, access points into the site were located and existing circulation paths drawn, to understand key spaces and routes. Subsequently, a series of activity nodes were plotted in accordance to the canopy cover and circulation, with the large group activity (red) spaces towards the center of the site, and the small group spaces (blue) towards the edges, under shade. Finally, these nodes were translated into usable programmes, with the large activity nodes focusing on a particular theme, from skating and public performances to recreation and food. These nodes are supported by ancillary spaces, such as flexible seating and viewing galleries. Lastly, a skatable loop connects Somerset Skate Park with Canopy Village, encouraging youth to move throughout the Youth Park to play and rest. This systematic approach in laying out the programmes allows for Canopy Village to create vibrant and active social spaces, with a variety of activities and experiences.
Using the programmatic arrangement derived from the site context, the modular sub-assemblies are placed in clusters around the site. A general flow is established, linking adjacent clusters with progressively changing motions, from crawling, to walking, to climbing and jumping. This overall flow allows for a curated progression throughout the site, without dictating any specific route for people to follow. These clustered spaces are then supported by resting spaces (various shades of blue), which do not have a define route, but instead encourage people to sit atop the structure and view Somerset from a different perspective.
Canopy Village aims to provide a diverse range of spaces, both along the ground and into the air. Horizontally connected spaces, as shown in the sections, transition from active and noisy towards the north, to quieter and relaxed towards the south. This was done in consideration to the many residential developments along Devonshire Road, which are very near the site. The vertical connection around the site allows for a new plane of circulation, and encourages youth to find their own space among the canopy, to play, study or relax. The porous nature of the modular scaffolding and nets allow for people to distance themselves away from the crowd, while also allowing visual connectivity throughout the site.
Flexi Seat Modules
Another key element within Canopy Village is the combination of food and play spaces. The same scaffolding module used in the main structure is also found in the flexible seats, which are also made of the same net material. By hooking parts of the net onto the frame, a swing seat which can accommodate one person and transform into a hammock or a bench to seat more. These seats can also be connected with a table to for flexible dining spaces, for the office lunch crowd in the day, or for social gatherings with music under the night sky.
View from entrance
Passers-by stop for a snack at the food stall
View from canopy net
Day-time view of the Youth Square artists’ market
View from Foodie Square
View from the bus stop
View from Devonshire Road
View from flexi seats
Night-time view of the Youth Square silent bands performance
View of overhead bridge