Singapore’s reputation as a green city is largely achieved through political will, strong policies, and effective execution of policies. While greening Singapore for most of the past five decades can be generally described as a public-sector led approach, where citizen engagement was not necessarily the focus, in recent years the public sector is increasingly interested in engaging the community in the planning and design of public green spaces. As this is a nascent movement, there remain considerable gaps in the types, process, and efficacy of participatory design. In this paper, we describe a research project that aims to provide a sustainable landscape design framework—based on the concept of ecosystem services—through a participatory process.
Our study focuses on public housing estates, locally referred to as “HDB” (Housing and Development Board) estates, which houses 80% of Singapore’s population in high-rise, high-density towns. We describe the research process, in which we include multiple stakeholders in the planning and design of HDB neighborhood landscapes. They include relevant public agencies, design professionals, residents, and NPOs/NGOs. We also discuss the lessons learned through such a process. Since a participatory approach to landscape design remains to be fully explored in Singapore, we anticipate that this research project could provide valuable insights into the adoption of participatory design in Singapore to promote a more
bottom-up approach to the planning and design of public green and open spaces.