Everyday Singaporeans including volunteers, residents and designers competed to generate ideas and solutions to design more loveable and unique public spaces and connections
Singapore, 29 November 2021 – The DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) today announced the winners of its community bootcamp challenge that was organised to commemorate the first anniversary of School of X, a classroom without walls to equip anyone and everyone with collaborative design skills to solve real-world social and business challenges.
Three School of X bootcamps with close to 30 participants were conducted at three locations – Queenstown (Tanglin Halt), Telok Blangah and Civic District (National Gallery Singapore) – to address unique community challenges and shape more loveable neighbourhoods by supporting newly relocated seniors, integrating biodiversity in estates and forging connections through art respectively.
The winning team from Queenstown (Tanglin Halt) sought to address the challenge of having touchpoints that sustain and grow connections when people move to the new neighbourhood in view of the imminent demolition of the Tanglin Halt estate. The team focused on building community bonds by creating a ‘Community without Walls’ – a neighbourhood that welcomes everyone. Ideas include posters in lifts that stimulate conversations, modular chairs with painted messages in common areas to encourage interaction, and volunteer ambassadors to organise a year-round programme of engagement and activities. They will receive a seed funding of $5,000 by Dsg to further develop their proposed solution. (Please refer to Annex A for full details on the participating teams and their proposed solutions.)
Mark Wee, Executive Director, Dsg, said: “In the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous or VUCA world we live in, more than ever, people need to be empathic, collaborative, and creative problem solvers to tackle the many wicked challenges today. The School of X was created to enable citizens and organisations to be empowered with human-centred design skills to drive innovation and impact in their communities or simply for issues that matter to them – from challenges such as thinking about how to better use our estate’s void deck spaces, to addressing systems-level complications in healthcare practices.”
The half-day bootcamp programme for each team followed a design-centric process of shaping the challenge statement, conducting user research, generating ideas and prototypes, and user testing – to create solutions that tackle their unique challenges. Teams were paired with experienced design facilitators like Simon Siah, Innovation Consultant at National Gallery Singapore’s Y-Lab, and comprised of volunteers, residents, and locals passionate about social causes like Melissa Kwee, CEO of National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and the children of Calvin Soh, Founder of One Kind House. Rachel Ong, Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC (Telok Blangah) hosted the bootcamp for the Telok Blangah team, while non-profit organisation My Community hosted the team at Tanglin Halt.
The community bootcamp challenge solutions were evaluated based on criteria like their relevance, desirability, feasibility, sustainability, impact and more by a distinguished panel of judges, namely Mark Wee, Executive Director of Dsg, Leslie Fountain, Executive Director (Practice) of Foolproof, and Adib Jalal, Urbanist, Educator and experienced place maker. Members of the public were also invited to vote for their favourite team and solution on the School of X Instagram page. Public voting accounted for 20 per cent of the scores.
Sharing more on the bootcamps and how they reinforce School of X’s values, Tamsin Greulich-Smith, Director of School of X, Dsg, said: “These fast-paced bootcamps show just how simple and impactful the design process can be, and are testament to the ability of all citizens to become changemakers! I believe anyone can use design to tackle their challenges – from primary school children to retirees. It’s fundamentally about people; bringing together different perspectives to better understand the problem we’re trying to solve and collaborating to create better solutions. We are proud to partner with forward-thinking organisations, who want to empower staff and stakeholders to creatively solve shared challenges, and experienced facilitators who are passionate about using design to create positive impact for society. Together, we are building a network of resources that make design accessible to everyone. As individuals, it can feel overwhelming to solve the wicked problems we care about around us – but we can overcome these problems hand-in-hand, step-by-step, and long into the future.”
Established by Dsg to equip everyone with design skills to effect social impact, School of X provides the platform for real-world learning to take place through a collaborative approach that includes training workshops and coaching on designing, testing and implementing solutions. Typically, organisations known as ‘Challenge Sponsors’ will have a pressing public challenge that needs addressing. School of X, with its team of experienced design facilitators, will equip and empower the staff within the organisations to solve the issue, working in partnership with relevant external participants, such as customers, vendors and volunteers. By building the skills of staff to solve the challenge themselves, this approach enables the Challenge Sponsor to continue to drive innovative change after the School of X project ends.
School of X welcomes participants from diverse backgrounds regardless of their design experience, be it professionals interested in learning about design-led approaches or citizens passionate about solving community issues. Guided by the facilitators, they will learn, in a structured, straight-forward manner, to collaborate and design solutions for a specific challenge proposed by the Challenge Sponsor. These tend to be ‘wicked’ complex challenges that are not easy to solve using traditional problem-solving tools, but which are ideal for a design thinking approach.
School of X ran its first pilot with the Centre for Fathering in October 2020 and has since engaged more than 700 participants and completed 13 successful projects with Challenge Sponsors like the Sentosa Development Corporation and SG Enable, addressing various social and business challenges. (Please refer to the Annex B for more details on these School of X projects.)
School of X works with Challenge Sponsors that are passionate about building empathy, creative problem-solving skills, and innovation capabilities in their workforce, and motivated to create positive impact both within and beyond their organisations. Their design briefs will provide the impetus for participants from all walks of life to be involved in driving change for good.
For more information about School of X, or to sign up as a Challenge Sponsor or participant, visit https://www.sox.sg.