Views and Trends on Future Living Spaces

August 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Design and Tech

As part of its 60th anniversary in Singapore, Philips held a public seminar last Saturday featuring expert views on the macro trends impacting Singapore’s future living spaces.

The keynote address was presented by Jack Mama, Creative Director for Philips Design, who spoke about the Philips Design Probes, which is a research initiative to track weak signals, trends and changes in future lifestyles. The Probes generate insights from politics, economics, technology, environment, and social-cultural trends.

Jack shared some Design Probes projects, including:

Off the Grid: Sustainable Habitat 2020

Off the Grid is based on the brief to develop sustainable housing for urban China in 2020. The project looks at nature ecosystems and explores a building that functions like a tree or a living breathing thing that is dynamic and responsive. The ‘living’ features would enable the building to live off the grid. Watch the video on Off the Grid below:

[youtube width=”590″ height=”472″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wmiNhkptQw[/youtube]

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis explores how people have become separated from the natural world, and looks at design concepts that connect both in our living and working space within the themes Light, Air, Sound and Body. Watch the video on Metamorphosis below:

[youtube width=”590″ height=”366″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePeor5334sQ[/youtube]

Panel Discussion

The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on issues and trends that will shape our lives and impact our living spaces in the next 10 to 15 years. The panelists include:

  • Jack Mama, Creative Director, Philips Design
  • Howard Shaw, Senior Vice President, HALCYON Group
  • Dr Mary Ann Tsao, President and Founding Director, Tsao Foundation
  • Tai Lee Siang, Group Managing Director, Ong & Ong Pte Ltd
  • Toh Wee Khiang, Executive Director for Building and Infrastructure, EDB

Howard shares that Singapore has embraced technology for clean water and waste treatment, which has made Singapore a more liveable city. But looking at our future living, the social and community aspects are essential. When our housing flats box people up from kampung settings into respective boxes, the interaction and sense of community was lost. Our living space should go beyond our four walls, and we need to recultivate our sense of community and have more heartware. He suggests to start with the young in building a sense of empathy, and to find innovative ways of changing behaviour.

Howard also shares that a liveable city needs to include food security, besides investing in water and energy security, which is a big challenge ahead. Singapore could ramp up productivity of farms, explore vertical farming and producing food in the city, and help create jobs for the elderly.

Dr Tsao shares that Singapore is not a city of all ages, and is not inclusive and socially inviting, especially for older people who find it hard to get out of home and move around. A liveable city must be a city of all ages, young and old, and for all possibilities. This could be achieved through better urban planning and simple technology.

Wee Khiang shares that the biggest global challenge is climate change, and the impacts would be abrupt. We have to learn how to live within the planet’s carrying capacity and change our mindset beyond living the unsustainable American dream. We depend on the natural ecosystems and cannot grow beyond the planet’s natural capacity, so sustainability must be the number one focus.

Singapore has to accept the limits to growth and evolve our economy to be closed-loop and biologically-based. The next phase is not to accumulate more stuff, but to create prosperity and happiness without high rate of growth.

Lee Siang shares that Singapore is never the most liveable city in international rankings, as we fall short in the human factor. He suggests that the government express our ambition to be the most liveable city. He believes that the important factor for a liveable city is the social-cultural and human to human relationship. Singapore is quick to embrace hardware, but we need to spend more efforts in developing a city with soul, love and passion, and creating social bonding and interaction. For example, he sees lots of Green Mark buildings, but the social element falls short.

Lee Siang also shares that it is tough to get people to think that they are human and not just a digit. He believes that creativity and thinking is important which is totally missing in Singapore, as we go through the same education process.

Jack shares that technology is not the answer to everything and we have to see technology as means to achieve our goals. He encourages a multidisciplinary approach and looking at technology application in a human-centered manner by exploring the needs of people and how they respond and react. Jack also encourages the participants to be curious and not to be judgmental.

Future Living Spaces In Singapore Contest

At the end of the seminar, Philips launched the Future Living Spaces In Singapore Contest for students at local tertiary institutes. Students are invited to share their innovative ideas to improve our living spaces in the next 10 to 15 years, while addressing the issues of an aging population, increasing urbanization, crowded cities or climate change.

All entries must be submitted by 19 September 2011. Details on the contest are available here.

Image: Screenshot of Future Living Spaces In Singapore

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