To start off project 2, here’s the research I’ve conducted, primary and secondary, to find out more about my chosen site: Tiong Bahru.
ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH (QUALITATIVE)
01 Site Observations
Firstly, to know more about the place itself, I visited the site and explored around Tiong Bahru. I went ahead to observe things up close which I normally don’t, such as, the architecture, the shops, the housing areas, the courtyards outside the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats an even the bomb shelter located at the old estate.
As I walked around the area, I took down some notes using the POEMS framework; a design thinking framework useful for ethnographic research.
02 Ethnographic Interviews
Other than observations, I interviewed the people around the area – residents and passers-by. To obtain more holistic information through the interviews, I ensured that I interviewed a range of people, especially from teens to elderly as I felt that their varying responses were key to finding good insights about this place.
Here’s a sample of the interview questions.
WEBSITE AND ARTICLES (QUANTITATIVE)
As for the secondary research, I looked up useful information which substantiates the information that I have gathered through the primary research. I found reliable information from government websites, such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Tiong Bahru: Heritage trail by the Singapore National Heritage Board and the Straits Times.
Singapore Improvement Trust flats in the Tiong Bahru estate. (c. 1953. Image from National Museum of Singapore.)
Singapore Improvement Trust flats in the Tiong Bahru estate. (c. 1953. Image from National Museum of Singapore.)Singapore Improvement Trust flats in the Tiong Bahru estate. (c. 1953. Image from National Museum of Singapore.)
From these sources, I have found out many interesting facts and the rich history of Tiong Bahru regarding the estate. Information such as when was the first block built and who were the people living in the block and even the following developments. Basically, Tiong Bahru’s timeline as an estate. One of the most iconic blocks of the estate to me was the one with a purpose-built air raid shelter, which I visited during my site visit as well. I was pretty surprised when I found it as it was really in the middle of all the flats. Some interviewees also pointed out the bird singing corner (which I couldn’t find during this visit). Without getting to see it, I just googled it to know more about it. (But, in the end, I went back to Tiong Bahru again to take a look at things which I have missed out, like the bird singing corner.)