Blog To Express

A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog

My Photo
Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Apr 12, 2012

Childhood Memories of Void Deck

Children at void deck


Did you know void decks, beyond being public spaces for community gatherings, once housed children’s toys and libraries? Discover these interesting facts and more about the ubiquitous void decks in the newest travelling exhibition by the National Heritage Board entitled “Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces.”

The third in a series of travelling exhibitions focusing on community heritage, “Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces” highlights the history and development of void decks in the Housing Development Board (HDB) heartlands, their common features and uses, and their role in providing shelter, building community, and promoting racial integration.

An integral part of HDB living, void decks became a common feature during the 1970s. Over the years, it has evolved to accommodate a wide variety of roles and uses, including that of community spaces (e.g., bird singing corners, civil defence shelters and senior citizens’ clubs and corners), private events (e.g., Malay weddings and Chinese funerals) and retail spaces (e.g., “mama” shops and commercial shops). Lesser known uses of the void deck include playgrounds, community art galleries, children’s libraries and children’s toy libraries.

Lending their personal stories and experiences to the exhibition are a group of heritage bloggers who contributed photographs to the exhibition as well as blog entries sharing their views about the roles of void decks in public housing and memories of their childhood days spent at void decks.

To raise awareness about this vital aspect of heartland living, NHB has also partnered Handson Learning, an educational consultancy specialising in museum and heritage programmes, to train students from schools in the proximity of the exhibition to conduct learning games related to the exhibition. For the preview, Handson Learning will also be conducting a learning game with the National Education Captains from Bendemeer Secondary School.

“Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces” will be launched by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, and Advisor for Kolam Ayer.

Date: 12 April 2012
Time: 7.00pm
Venue: Blk 2, St George’s Road
Singapore 320002

The exhibition will be on display at the void deck of Blk 2, Saint George’s Road for the month of April before travelling to Marine Parade in May 2012 and other void decks around Singapore.

According to Wikipedia, the void deck in Singapore is defined:
A void deck is typically found under apartment blocks in Singapore. The void deck occupies the ground level, while apartments are usually on the second floor onwards. Void decks are a space for community mingling and functions are often attended by neighbours across the ethnic spectrum. Sometimes, events like Malay weddings, Chinese weddings or funeral wakes are held in such places.
I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee where I was born in 1948.

During my childhood in Bukit Ho Swee kampong, HDB apartments in the housing estates were not built with void decks on the ground floor of each apartment block.

The 1-room "emergency flat" built by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) allocated to my family after the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961, the HDB flats were not designed with void decks.

The first time a HDB 4-room flat I purchased at Clementi West Street 1 in 1980, the building was designed with void deck. Almost every HDB housing estates were designed with void decks, regardless of what room types (i.e 1 to 4 rooms).

At Bukit Ho Swee as a young boy in the kampong, my buddies and I spent most of our playtime in the wild, wild playground space...even the landlord's grandfather who died and buried in the graveyard behind the house. We children were running over the old man's body buried under the ground, and he doesn't seems to be offended and did not want to frighten us as disrespectful.

In the early days in the kampong, the living and the dead were located side by side, to each their own realms.

When my daughter and son grew up at Clementi, they have childhood memories of void deck so different from the kampong where I grew up at Bukit Ho Swee.

The concept of void deck as a shared community space for each apartment block to live harmoniously regardless of the residents of various ethnic groups in multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-culture society.

The children enjoy at the void deck to play games, group study together with the neighbours and made friends.

As most of the new young parents at the newly-built housing estates where their children were born there, they have similar interests and social community needs.

When I joined the Residents Committee at Clementi West, I proposed with our members to organise a Book Exhibition at the void deck at Blk 601, Clementi West Street 1 as reported in Berita Harian dated 23 February, 1982:

Source: Berita Harian dated 23 February, 1982
(Please click on image to enlarge)
Exhibition attracts more than 100 library members

MORE than 100 people, mostly children, became library members in the housing estate here.

They are among the West Coast residents who attended the Book Exhibition at Block 602, Clementi West Street 1, organized by the West Coast Zone 3 Residents Committee and the Queenstown Branch Library last Saturday afternoon.

Free Membership

This is the first time that a Residents Committee has organized such an exhibition. According to a committee member, the response was encouraging.

At about 4.00 pm, a total of 800 books were loaned to the residents.

Ms Mavis Richards, the Head of the Queenstown Branch Library, said that usually an average of about 50 to 60 people register as library members whenever such exhibitions are held.

She added that membership is free.

Cultivate Interest

One of the youngest members to join the library was nine-month-old Maylene Seah. Her membership was registered by her father, Mr James Seah Kok Thim, Treasurer of the Residents Committee.

Mr Seah said that although his daughter still could not read, she likes to look at the pictures and this is one way to cultivate the child's interest so that she will enjoy reading from a young age.

Besides the exhibition of books in the four official languages, there was also a presentation of songs by children. A lucky draw based on the library registration number was also held.
With the success of the Book Exhibition experimental project, our Resident Committee subsequently organised mini-exhibitions for games contests, singing contests, arts contest and other art and craft contests for the residents to participate in educational and family fun activities conducted at the void decks.

Childhood memories of void deck of the younger generation who grew up in Singapore in a safer, well-organised and meaningful place to live.

My young daughter and son grew up in Clementi West HDB Housing Estate where their childhood days enjoyed playing at the void decks.

They play games with their neighbourhood friends and participate in concerts, talentime contest and other activites organised by the Residents Committee and Community Centre.

The community space provided by the void decks in the housing estate is help to promote better interaction, racial harmony and friendship among the residents.

Thanks with acknowledgement the photo credits of Jerome Lim and Belinda Tan updated to the blog on the launch of the “Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces' Exhibition launch.

Supporting blog entries for "Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces" are:

Launch of NHB’s Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces (Jerome Lim)

Voids that have filled our lives (Jerome Lim)

Void Deck – Our Cultural Communal Space (Tan Geng Hui)



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home