Another City 2016
Another City 2016 is a 4 day programme for primary school students, aiming to nurture empathy, compassion and self-reflexivity through an arts & design-thinking curriculum based oninvestigating a real-world issue in Singapore. We are a team of 8 undergraduate students who collaborated with CHIJ Kellock in June 2016 to conduct a programme for 15 students to investigate the social issue of urban poverty.
The neighbourhood of Jalan Kukoh was the site of investigation. The students were encouraged to use art as a tool to experience and understand the urban condition. Photography, free-writing, mapping and role-playing were some techniques we explored during this programme. This empathy-driven process allows students to identify needs of the neighbourhood in order to ideate and prototype creative solutions.
This project was funded by the Yale-NUS Social Impact Fellowship and the Fitzwilliam College Student Opportunities Fund.
Day 1: Explore
The objectives of Day 1 were to observe and explore the urban landscape and to see the city in a new light. The theme of the camp was not revealed on the first day in order to allow the students to make observations without selection bias. The morning was spent introducing the students to two different methods of data collection - free-writing and film photography. Film photography was a medium to encourage students to be considered in the things they chose to record. In the afternoon, we headed to Jalan Kukoh to capture scenes they felt were unique to Jalan Kukoh. They extended their curiosity and understanding by engaging in conversation with the residents and shopkeepers in the neighbourhood.
day 2: Understand
Students were introduced to the idea of poverty in the city and the ways in which it manifests itself. Programme hoped to impart empathy - to step into the shoes of local communities to understand how they see, feel and experience. We broke down the complexities of poverty through various mediums and introduced them to concepts such as privilege and children's rights. Role-playing activities were conducted to get students to contemplate poverty in relation to themselves. In the afternoon, the students visited Jalan Kukoh for the second time. They were given a guided tour around Jalan Kukoh by Ardy who used to police the area and participated in a mapping activity that required them to speak to residents and business-owners to get to know them and to collect ethnographic data for their maps.
Day 3: Ideate
We spent Day 3 thinking about the future of Singapore. What values are important to our city? What can Jalan Kukoh be like in the future? Students analysed the needs of Jalan Kukoh's residents from the investigations in the past two days in order to design for them. A fictional letter from a supposed university professor was issued to the students. In it, he detailed plans to build a “Walled City” that contained the urban poor away from the rest of the population. Students were asked to give their responses to this proposal. They created counter-proposal of Dr.Price's Walled City through a collage of a city made of a school, a neighbourhood and a home. Students were given time to build their city in small groups. Based on a set of chosen ideals, students ended the day by creating newspaper articles for their visions of Jalan Kukoh 50 years into the future.
day 4: Create and share
The morning was spent prototyping one idea from their collage city. Each group tackled different needs for children in Jalan Kukoh such as a safe playground space, a more supportive and inclusive school, sufficient after-school spaces for study and greater ownership of the neighbourhood. Students had to consider how their design directly addressed the need they are attempting to tackle. The programme ended with a sharing session where students gathered to share their prototypes with their peers and teachers.