Site Studies

Site, Zoning & Location

Organised by the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) and the National Youth Council (NYC), Somerset belt focuses on the youths, who are the future leaders, and encourages them to shape their vision for the country and work with one another.

As part of the extension scheme to revitalise Singapore’s Orchard Road, the Somerset Belt is planned as a youthful and energetic entertainment district. 

The site is located adjacent to SCAPE with a coverage of 4,000sqm and includes the Red Box building.

It is a Youth Park is that a complimentary space to the Red Box and currently holds various temporary events such as music performances and small workshops.

Currently there is no development controls, and it tallies with MCCY & NYC’s original intention of public spaces and gathering area for Youth.

Historical Development

Transformation of Singapore Somerset vicinity

5 Elements of the City

The studio was introduced to Kevin Lynch’s seminar work in ‘The image of the city’ and uses The 5 Elements of the City as a reference to study the experiences and mental images of the Youth Park and its surroundings.

Districts are large areas which has common identifying characteristics. It can be divided by tangible or intangible boundaries, and evoke the general feel of the space.
Paths are the streets and sidewalks which people travel on. They aid to arrange spaces and the movements between them. Paths are usually purpose-built, but informal paths can also be created with enough use.
Edges are spatial boundaries; real (walls, buildings) or perceived (streets, rivers). They divide areas into localized spaces and can have their own demographic or activities.
Nodes serve as social gathering points in a city. They offer different activities and can vary in size, from a public water cooler, to a shopping mall atrium.
Landmarks are points of reference, often iconic and memorable. They are usually unique in the context of their surroundings, and could be anything from a signboard, building, or mountain.
Districts, Paths, Edges, Nodes & Landmarks
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Notable Buildings

Site Sections

Culture

Gathering of Millenials
The SCAPE is the centre heart of the millennials’ gathering space which youth activities conducted throughout the years. The events include dance performances, music events, e-sports activities/training camp, which are popular among the millennials. Beside it, Cineleisure cater activities mostly for youth as well.

Attractors
313@somerset, 111@somerset act as the various crowd attractor with commercial and retails. Majority of the crowd includes adults (21 and above), both Singaporeans and tourists, while a handful of them are youth( 21 and above). The design intention is to divert the secured crowd at those malls to the Youth-park.

Culture Landmark
The existing Red Box Building was named after the red-brief case of the late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew which he carried all the time throughout the years as he built this country. It has become a symbol of dedication to Singapore and now a monument to this country. Therefore the building will be an attractor for Youth to snap pictures for their social media.

Potential
The site can be the gateway between commercial district and Youth-oriented district. With surrounding Youth oriented programmes and crowd attracting nodes, it is vital to introduce unique system that embodied youth culture and divert crowd to the site to rejuvenate the neglected area.

Current Conditions

“Let nature take its course and kill Orchard Road. The loss will not be huge, since what is on offer in town, you could probably find elsewhere in Tampines, the Marina Bay area, and even Jurong.”
Benjamin Lim, contributing editor for RICE media, 11th September 2017

Orchard Road along with Somerset Area has seen a decline of footfalls and sales for a number of years. The success of Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority’s masterplans over the years have brought about tremendous growth in the heartlands. Good transportation and connectivity are prevalent and jobs are closer to homes. Each new towns/regions have clear defined public spaces for recreation and healthy living along with integrated community centres, hubs and numerous suburban malls serving the residents. These have greatly pose a challenge to Orchard Road and Somerset Areas. Further development of newer and larger scale retail concept malls such as Jewel at Changi Airport and Marina Bay Sands have also become local rivals to the areas.

Elsewhere, the shopping and retail scenes of Singapore’s Southeast Asian neighbours are thriving with cities like Bangkok offering a wide range of experiences from affordable local goods to high end luxury products. There is a strong local identity to those areas which greatly attract shoppers and visitors.

“Today, none of our three children, nor their friends, hang out in Orchard Road. Like most Singaporeans (and foreigners), there are many other compelling alternatives vying for their attention.”
Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times

Social Media Analysis

*Scape

Facebook

Likes
39,000

0-60 likes per post

Instagram

Followers
6,000
Posts
2,600

30-70 likes per post

*Statistics as of 14 June 2020

Our Tampines Hub

Facebook

Likes
85,000

10-100 likes per post

Instagram

Followers
18,000
Posts
5,200

30-100 likes per post

From these social network statistics one can see the quantified emergence of heartland malls. Due to their similarities in function, the malls in orchard no longer have an edge over these neighbourhood malls, which due to their accessibility, have become much more compelling alternatives.
At the same time, two spaces in Orchard are observed to be thriving: the Central Library, and library@orchard. These spaces are found to be favored over neighbourhood libraries because unlike neigbourhood libraries, which tend to be near identical, these two libraries have unique attributes. 

The Central Library is popular because of its large open study spaces with panoramic views. Library@orchard hosts artist residencies and regular workshops. This elements help them differentiate themselves from the typical public library, and give them a relevance in this age where neighbourhood centres have become just as developed as central locations.

Climate

When designing spaces for social interaction, regardless of the target audience, user comfort plays a key role in the project’s success. Appropriately addressing the climatic conditions of the site can not only only attract users to a space, but retain them as well.

The Somerset area is lined with glass walled, air-conditioned malls – the obvious solution to Singapore’s tropical climate. An active solution to combating the tropics’ main challenges: heavy downpours in seasons of high rainfall, and the ever-present equatorial sunshine.

By understanding the seasonal shifts in climate conditions, and site-specific traits like wind direction and solar hours, designers can craft user experiences in a number of ways. Passive solutions to mitigating the elements, and idosyncracies in weather patterns can be exploited to create unique encounters amidst the sea of glass boxes.

Natural Features

Singapore’s attention to the incorporation of green into its heavily developed city has been lauded world-wide. This City in a Garden is full of flora and fauna, which holds an interesting opportunity; to take this idea of ‘green’ past its buzzword status and explore what it means to design with respect to the natural environment.

In a society that is increasingly aware of the natural environment and our social responsibility towards it, what you do with the natural features on a site can supplement or negate your project’s image. On top of this, like climate, certain natural features unique to the site can provide opportunities for interesting user experiences.

Plant Species

Site Biodiversity

Images from Unsplash

Manmade Features

Urban Street Features
Orchard Rd is home to an eclectic mix of street art pieces which add a layer of vibrance to pedestrians’ journeys. Street furniture adds to this experience; a space to stop, rest and take in the sights.

Site Materials
Existing on-site utilities include numerous electrical points and lighting infrastructure, which can inform the placement of programs on the site. 

Access & Circulation

The Orchard area has long been a hotspot of activity, and whether it’s via public transport, on foot, or by car, very accessible. Understanding how the Youth Park site connects to this network of roads, rails and walkways will be useful in identifying the challenges and opportunities that come with it.

Sitting off the main shopping street means that the site receives less footfall, an issue further exacerbated by the roads which deter pedestrians from wandering onto its grounds. Analysing the ground level activity in the area could produce a means of drawing this activity towards the site. Identifying the surrounding traffic routes could bring about new proposals for alternative routes which better serve the site. 

Site Connectivity

Vehicular Access
Ground Level Activity
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Sensory & Utility

Sensory
The sensorial experience – sights and sounds which accompany the site, are varied; from brightly lit malls and live music, to the humble streetlamps and buzz of traffic, each contributing to the textures that give the Somerset area its character. 

Utility
Existing on-site utilities include numerous electrical points and lighting infrastructure, which can inform the placement of programs on the site.

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Site Vistas

Site Utilities

Site Lighting

Sound Mapping

Street Vitality

Lighting Analysis

As perceived in night images
Site Utilities
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