2D II | Neighbourhood Research

When we returned from our first semester break, we were all tasked to list down one or a few places that we are familiar with. Little did I know that this was part of our 2D project – we were assigned a neighbourhood that we are UNfamiliar with to explore and find out the “interesting” features about the subject area.

I was allocated to Sengkang (secretly hoping to get Changi lol.) But oh well, let’s keep an open mind, shall we? Sengkang in my mind, was just a place almost reaching the far end of the Purple Line and it also seems like a place with parks and greens everywhere (which proved to be true too!). Literally there was nothing fun I can think of when it comes to this location. As usual, I went on to Google “things to do in Sengkang” but all I get was the typical stuffs such as riverside park, wetland, complex, food etc. 

No way I’m going to build my zine around nature theme so I decided to JUST GO there and I will figure the things out later.

As expected, all I could see is HDBs and MORE of them as I walked around; maybe just a change of colours.

  • Idea #1: A series of visuals about flats and its somewhat interesting architecture

I chanced upon Jalan Kayu (a malay term of “wooden road”) while I was exploring Fernvale. Why is it called wooden road?? I find it rather unique as compared to other areas’ name. Curious, I googled about Jalan Kayu and it opened a new door for me.

One version for the road name’s origin is that firewood used to be stacked on the roadside. Another version is that the muddy laterite roads leading to the rubber estates in the area were made passable due to logs of wood that used to cover the muddy roads, hence the term in Malay jalan kayu. -Wikipedia

Jalan Kayu itself is an one lane road. My first impression of the road was that it was just a typical road dotted with many bars and restaurants of different cuisines. My mind was completely blank. I wanted that “something” of Sengkang but I had no idea what it is and where to find it. Annoyed by the fact that I had to go home empty-handed, I walked into an alley and A HA! I found a gem.

The architecture of these shophouses wasn’t what I would have imagined it to be. It exudes a kind of 70s post-war vibe. Vintage. Retro. I thought I was transported to another era or even country. Besides, I realised that the colours are recurring.

  • Idea #2: A series of visuals about the interesting things I found along this route + play with colours

After my first trip to Sengkang, I was left rather confused, undecided on what to do for the project. Should I extend my search to another area?  And YEAP I went back again on the following week to further dissect the subject area.

It was raining the day I went back, so I took the bus instead and travelled along Jalan Kayu till the end which I then entered into the British-built military compound. Seletar Airport is just a few minutes drive away and I knew that was going to be my next spot! 

There wasn’t a single passenger there on that day. It did feel like I own the entire airport. After spending some time walking around the airport, I started wondering about my whole existence. What if I disappear right here right now? 

Onwards to my next stop – Buangkok.

I wasn’t really that interested about Buangkok area mainly because it has been a “touristy” place. Nonetheless, I decided to pay a visit and see what it has to offer. 

And then it hit me that all the photos I have taken has this same kind of vibe which I feel cold, distant, abandoned and yes LONELY.

It’s time to work on the Zine concept —



4D II | Project 1 Exploration

Chosen approach: Visit a place/area in Singapore that you are less familiar with, have not been for quite a while or have never been before.

Places of interest: People’s Park Complex

As a foreigner, the present Singapore in my opinion, has always been a global city – modern and developed, filled with many high-rise buildings and amazing architectural feats. For instance, Marina Bay Sands – a typical ad of Singapore for the tourists.  Therefore, I figure maybe I could explore another side of Singapore.

Chinatown came into picture instantly! While Chinatown covers quite a large area from Kreta Ayer to Tanjong Pagar, I thought of focusing on one of its icon, which is People’s Park Complex.

My general impression of this place prior to my visit was – a place for old people and Singaporeans are here for the money changers (including me!).

And yes, both are true. I did observe quite a number of senior citizens as well as snaking queues at the money changers, located at the ground floor.

People’s Park Complex has this Bangkok/Hong Kong touch to it. It feels like a faraway land that refuses to change its identity to fit in with the crowd.  There is so much life be it inside or outside of the complex.

Old-world charm!
Emporium, selling imported Chinese goods!
The three main business models in the complex are the travel agencies, beauty parlors and jewelry shops.

Apart from that, the atrium of the complex does resemble Golden Mile Complex. The amount of human traffic was insane during weekends and especially when it’s nearing CNY. There were tons of Chinese Nationals queuing for remittance service.

Despite it is a commercial place, people are found sitting on the floor as well. The complex does look like a large social living room where groups of people gather to socialize. (Maybe this is the reason it’s called People’s Park!) Chinese Nationals speaking in their strong Chinese accent can be heard everywhere you go.

While I was wandering around, I saw quite a few of “extremely enthusiastic” sales personnel such that they would just shove the flyers to you.

 Visual narrative of choice:

After visiting People’s Park Complex, it piqued my interest to explore more about the old malls in Singapore such as Golden Mile Complex and Peninsula Plaza. It was truly a refreshing experience to watch the people and activities compared to the malls we frequent. Maybe a photo series about the people and the mix of activities that we don’t usually notice? Right now, it still feels like there is a lack of depth.