Multipurpose housing estates in the heartlands
Bedok Mall’s inception was probably the only reason that more Easties began frequenting the heartland town. But what a lot of us don’t know is that Bedok’s heartlands serve more purpose than just housing residents.
From community spaces catalysed by people into hangout spots like Bedok Maze, to upgraded aesthetic estates like Linear Green, Bedok is fast becoming one of Singapore’s rising Instagrammable spots for architecture.
Together with the Ministry of National Development (MND), and the Housing & Development Board (HDB), TheSmartLocal organised our latest #InstaWalk at Bedok on 26 November 2016 to explore the lesser-known gems in the Eastern Heartlands.
We were joined by our guides from HDB and MND, along with our friendly influencers Yafiq Yusman (@_yafiqyusman_), Julian Cheong (@julian_cheong), and Jovin Yong (@jovinn_) on our tour to the beautiful town.
Before we get into it, you can catch our video here:
Into the unchartered waters
0850: We gathered at the pristine Bedok Town Square, located snugly between the new Bedok Hawker Centre and Bedok Mall. The participants received their goodie bags, which equipped them for the 4-hour expedition ahead. Reunions between old followers-turned-friends commenced, and the #InstaChallenge brief was delivered.
Influencers for Team 2 Yafiq (left) and Julian (right) catching up before we start.
This time, the three themes for the photography contest were: Heartlands, Facade, and Nostalgia. The winners for the Best Shot for each theme won a goodie bag from MND and HDB, and of course, the team with the Best Group Photo received a bonus prize.
With the goals in place, we set off to our first location.
1. Bedok Heritage Corner
0900: Located within Bedok Town Plaza is a corner decked out in Sampan-shaped markers filled with information about Bedok’s history, including how Bedok has transformed from an old kampong to the modern-day heartland. One of the earliest mentions of Bedok was in 1604, in cartographer Manuel Godinho de Eredia’s map of Singapore. Bedok was also found in Captain Franklin’s map of the East India Company in the 1820s.
Our participants also got the chance to get a little more personal with the TSL crew with a game of Bingo:
2. Princess Theatre
0915: We took a short walk to the neighbouring location within sight from Bedok Heritage Corner. The 33-year-old Princess Theatre used to be a favourite spot for Bedok residents before modern cinemas were built in Tampines, and the McDonald’s was a famed hangout spot for residents of all ages as well. TSL’s very own Fauzi recounted his time at Princess Theatre as a secondary school youngling.
Unfortunately, Princess Theatre was already out of bounds for its revamp during our walk. The building is to be granted a new lease of life, and its fate is Golden Village bound. Nevertheless, our participants made full use of it:
3. HDB Bedok Branch
0935: We headed to the HDB Bedok Branch, and don’t be fooled by its name – besides offering a variety of services for the residents, it is the most unexpected Instagrammable spot.
Before 1989, there were 3 HDB Branch offices in Bedok, but they were condensed into one office in 1991 into a beautiful brick-walled building that resembles one of Dr. Strange’s Sanctums.
Our participants made use of the puddles from the pouring rain the night before, and got some nice puddle shots:
4. Linear Green via Bedok Town Centre
0955: We embarked on our slow stroll along the 320m stretch of the made-over town centre, equipped with wheelchair-friendly ramps, benches, lighting, as well as new landscaping. Completed as part of the Housing Board’s Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) plans for the East Coast, Bedok is on track for even more good stuff. The upcoming works in 2017 will turn the area into an even more developed town.
1010: We arrived in our sweat-soaked clothes and whipped out our cameras for this visual aesthetic of a housing estate.
Anything for the gram.
Some of the participants also got some great looking-up shots of the estate:
Linear Green is one of the newer estates in Bedok with modern amenities, including a playground, exercise corner, and a tiled pavement for evening strolls after dinner. The best part is that all of this is snugly located in between two rows of flats, so residents get some private space away from the sounds and passers-by on the main road.
Linear Green HDB was also part of the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS), which renews Singapore’s older housing estates to a 99-year lease, and neighbours get to stay within proximity of each other. SERS flat owners are also given a package comprising compensation and rehousing benefits.
1020: We took a short 2-minute walk to Linear Green’s Community Gardens – a reflection of the residents’ kampong spirit. Volunteer residents like Uncle Ong come by to tend to the two gardens – a herb garden and a farm-like enclave for lovebirds.
It’s no surprise that the community garden has won several awards for their variety of well cared-for plants and birds.
The shadows cast from the peculiar roofing also made for a great group photo opportunity:
Yep, it was lit.
5. Hibiscus Flats @ Bedok South Ave 2
1040: We couldn’t get enough of flowers, so we made our way to the Hibiscus flats. They’ve gone through the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) in 2010, and the residents got new clothes drying racks, as well as renovated toilets. The HIP helps residents resolve common maintenance problems of ageing flats, and at least 75% must be in favour of the programme for it to be carried out.
We found this to be the only spot that you can get that eye-level hibiscus shot – by standing at Block 36 and looking out the corridor:
6. Maze @ Bedok South Road
1110: Designed as a community space for residents to play and hang out at, Bedok Maze is used for exercise, and because of its low walls, the participants took the chance to catch their breath.
We stopped by the quaint murals, painted along the wall where residents parked their bicycles. The wall art is an artist’s impression of what Bedok looked like back in the day, where kampongs were common and flats were unheard of.
7. Colourful Flats @ Bedok North Road
1140: Talking to the participants revealed that the colourful flats were the location they were looking forward to the most, so we headed over with expectant fingers upon shutter buttons, ready to shoot the burst of colours on the blocks.
All you need is LOVE.
On the way to the colourful blocks, we walked past a void deck where an ah ma was playing the famous ‘Wa Meng Ti’ song. Needless to say, we sang along to the famous climactic chorus when the beat dropped in unison.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look of Yafiq’s idea for a shot, planned and executed in less than 10 minutes. It was skillfully orchestrated by hand-signalling one another from the opposite block.
8. Bedok Sports Complex
1210: We neared the final stop of #iWalkBedok, as our legs began to give way and our bodies were covered in perspiration, we prepped ourselves for the final spur forward. This was it. Our drone master whipped out the DJI Phantom 4 he’d been carrying for the whole 3 hours, and let the winged robot free into the open space:
The architecture photographers also had an interesting take to the sports complex’s design:
Bedok with open eyes
1230: We commenced our prize giving ceremony to the winners for the three themes: Heartlands, Facade, and Nostalgia. Here are the winning shots:
Winner of Heartlands: Joel Chua
Winner of Facade: Celine Chong
Winner of Nostalgia: Edmund Loy
Best Group Photo: Henzy David
1345: We said our goodbyes after a long half day sweating it out for the gram, but as followers turned to friends, and shutter clicks turned to memories, we were sure that everyone didn’t just go home with photos, they went home with an experience of this quaint heartland.
Stay tuned to our next #Instawalk!
We’ve done heartland walks at Punggol and Toa Payoh, and the third installation of the heartland walk has confirmed HDB and MND’s efforts to develop public housing estates in Singapore. The walk inspires us to explore our own neighbourhoods, and explore the interaction between community spaces and people to become interactive places of attraction.
See you next episode – same time, same channel.
This post was brought to you by Ministry of National Development.