Giving State properties a new lease of life
Giving State properties a new lease of life
Insight MinLaw goes behind the scenes to uncover stories about how the work we do impacts you.
What do old army barracks and disused school buildings have in common? A chance at getting a new lease of life as Singapore Land Authority (SLA) optimises the use of vacant State land and properties.
Singapore is a small city-state, and land is a strategic resource for us. Given our limited land resources, land that is left unused can be considered an opportunity cost.
This is why SLA, as the custodian of State land and properties, seeks to optimise them in partnership with industry players, local communities, and partner agencies in exploring creative interim uses that would support our nation’s economic and social needs.
Last year, it was announced that the former Kampong Eunos Community Centre at 10 Kampong Eunos would be repurposed into a creative accelerator and innovation studio for children and youths. The project, which is a partnership between SLA and social impact organisation, VIVITA, will use this space for the community to gather for co-learning through interactive programmes, workshops, camps, and competitions. VIVISTOP is slated to open officially in the first half of 2024.
An artist's impression of the repurposed centre, VIVISTOP at 10 Kampong Eunos
To find out how State properties are chosen for repurposing and rejuvenation, and what you can look forward to at 10 Kampong Eunos, we spoke to Carrie Wong from SLA’s Business Planning Division and Lee Hoi Leong, one of the Co-Founders and Environment Creator at VIVITA Singapore.
Ms Carrie Wong, SLA’s Business Planning Division
Insight MinLaw: How does SLA identify which properties should be repurposed and rejuvenated for the community?
Carrie: For vacant State properties not required for immediate development, we work with the relevant agencies and stakeholders to optimise these sites by putting them to good use to benefit the community. Such properties can range from old army barracks to disused school buildings that have been returned to the State by Ministries and Statutory Boards, at the end of their tenancy term or lease tenure.
In addition, SLA proactively engages private sector operators and social groups to understand market needs and identify gaps so that we can better unlock value in properties for meaningful uses.
Insight MinLaw: What does SLA take into consideration when making this assessment?
Carrie: In line with SLA’s vision of “Limited Land. Unlimited Space”, we look at innovative ways to adaptively reuse vacant State properties to address the emerging needs of the community. SLA works with the social organisations to understand their requirements, such as the size of the site or its proximity to residential neighbourhoods. Some of these organisations have expressed a preference for disused schools, which come with classroom-style configurations that are conducive for workshops, and a big open field for community gardening and outdoor community activities.
Insight MinLaw: Can you explain why 10 Kampong Eunos was selected, and how the concept of repurposing it as a creative accelerator and innovation studio for the youth community came about?
Carrie: We are constantly in conversations with our stakeholders and the public to stay connected to their needs and requirements. It was during our active engagements with them that we discovered that VIVITA was looking for space to relocate from SCAPE so that they could continue their good work with the youth community. VIVITA had set up VIVISTOP, a community space that provides facilities, equipment, and facilitator resources to foster digital making and creative skills in children and youths. These skills range across digital fabrication techniques such as 3D printing and Computer Numerical Control to electronics, robotics, coding, game creation, digital art, and design. It is one of its kind, as no other commercial entity in Singapore provides such complimentary resources to its users. VIVISTOP’s easily accessible resources are particularly beneficial to children from less privileged backgrounds.
SLA saw VIVITA as a great partner to connect with the communities through strategic use of State property.
In search of a replacement site, VIVITA had identified the former Kampong Eunos Community Centre at 10 Kampong Eunos as a suitable premise to continue their work. Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which worked in partnership with VIVITA on the Digital for Life movement to help citizens of all ages and walks of life embrace digital learning as a lifelong pursuit, was also supportive of VIVITA’s proposal.
Mr Lee Hoi Leong, Co-Founder and Environment Creator of VIVITA Singapore
Insight MinLaw: What inspired VIVITA’s proposal for 10 Kampong Eunos? What can we look forward to?
Hoi Leong: The world is changing exponentially, especially with the advent of technologies like AI. With that, the way children learn needs to be updated. We believe that the best way to predict the future is to create it, and thus VIVITA's mission is to empower children and youths to be creators of their own future. We will fulfil this mission by providing an environment where they can learn the skills to create and bring their ideas to life. It is with this in mind that we are opening the new VIVISTOP East Coast at 10 Kampong Eunos, to enable more children to be the change and contribute to creating a better world.
Just like how the library is a community resource in society, empowering citizens to gain access to knowledge, there should be a community resource too where creative tools, equipment, and resources are available to children for free regardless of their background. VIVISTOP is equipped with a range of high-end tools, including a laser cutter, 3D printer, and a sewing machine. It also opens the door to a community of like-minded makers and creators, where children and youths can explore their creative passion, and get help if they have ideas to build something.
The community around us can look forward to a place that will be full of cool kids’ ideas, and a hub that empowers everyone to be makers – it will be a Creative Kampong!
VIVITA co-creating the space with children
Insight MinLaw: Can you share with us the other initial ideas that VIVITA came up with for this site?
Hoi Leong: We are planning to have a creative recycling resource centre. There will be a common pool of upcycled materials collected from corporate and community partners that everyone, such as neighbouring schools and families, can use to create with, giving these otherwise unwanted resources a new lease of life.
We are also planning to consult with the children at VIVITA to gain more ideas and insight once we are open! We will imagine and ideate on how they would like to see the place run so that we can create a space together with them, for them.
Insight MinLaw: What are the factors that VIVITA considered when conceptualising the ideas for 10 Kampong Eunos?
Hoi Leong: Space, cost, safety and accessibility. First of all, space and cost are huge factors. To have the environment to do what we hope to do, we need ample space to allow for the range of activities that would happen, but at the same time, as a social enterprise we cannot afford prime locations or high rentals. Secondly, the safety of the environment is also an important factor since children and youths will be the main users of the space. Because of that, industrial zones and buildings do not work for us. Another big factor is the proximity and accessibility by public transport, again because we want more children and youths to be able to come. The site at 10 Kampong Eunos checks all these boxes, which makes sense, since it was previously a community centre. It was a real find, and I think it will be a great home for VIVISTOP!
Other stories you may like: