5 Singaporeans Who Transformed Their Spaces Creatively


singapore space

Space in Singapore has always been quite a luxury. In fact, it is no secret that the island nation is running out of space – with its population projected to be at 6.9 million by the year 2030. This has even spurred the Singaporean government to make plans to tap underground space!

The fact that space is limited in Singapore makes it a prized possession among its citizens. Some are lucky enough to have their own personal space, while some have to make do with sharing their space with other people, which also comes with its own perks.

In this documentary entitled Voices: In Between, director Kenneth Chan highlights the story of five Singaporeans who have managed to interpret and utilize the space around them in a way that is significant to them.

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“Living in a small country like Singapore, I find myself falling into the trap of thinking I have seen most of what the country has to offer. Maybe that’s true if just looked at space in the physical sense,” director Kenneth Chan said.

“While I was making In Between, we realised that the profiles interviewed looked at spaces differently. With this new perspective, they affect the spaces around them and also how the spaces, in turn, affect them.

This became the heart of our documentary series. It is our hope that through this series, In Between, the audience would be inspired to look at the spaces around them in a new light,” he added.

Here are five people and the story of their unique relationship with space.

1) Into The Void

Having a space that’s yours doesn’t mean it has to be a personal space, just like how Izzat Zatasy discovered. Izzat needed a place to practice his craft, and he found it in an unusual spot.

This episode of Voices: In Between follows the story of Izzat Zatasy, a leather crafter who transformed his local HDB void deck into his own personal leather crafting workshop. He spends his nights at the void deck, working on his leather crafting, which he found very calming and peaceful. It also helped him focus on his craft.

Following the idea of placemaking, Izzat managed to reinvent a public space – a void deck – into his work station and made it work for him.

Aside from that, he also basked in the community spirit around the void deck – where strangers and passers-by soon became his friends and acquaintances.

“I made friends with all the uncles and aunties”

“Some people will walk by and ignore me. But some will come up to me and greet me, ask me how I’m doing and how my day went. I made friends with all the uncles and aunties. We see all these people every day, so that makes it easy to share the space and use it together,” says Izzat.

However, Izzat soon had to give up that space as his plans changed. Watch the film the find out how that affected his craft and passion for leather crafting.

2) A Natural Appeal

Despite its economic success, Singapore is notorious for being a stressful country to live in, due to its hectic culture and long working hours. A study conducted in 2013 showed that majority of Singaporeans actually want a slower pace of life.

Long working hours can take a toll on your health and personal lives, which is why it’s important to sometimes take a break and enjoy the simpler things in life.

Ever bathed yourself in a forest?

In this episode, Youmin Yap takes us through the concept of forest bathing. She talks about immersing yourself in green spaces and taking in the fresh air – while escaping the hustle and bustle of living in a modern city.

Also popularly known as ecotherapy or nature therapy, immersing yourself in a forest atmosphere can health both your physical and mental health.

“We are a part of nature as much as nature is a part of us. If we look at human beings, that’s just one being. There are other beings, like trees and grass and such, and all together, we form nature,” says Youmin.

If you’re desperate to escape the crazy busy city life, watch the film to find out how forest bathing can help calm your nerves and give you the right balance in life.

3) Kampung Reimagined

Neighbours used to make themselves at home, and our home was theirs. Knowing that the person living next door is also someone who will look out for you was a great comfort.

Co-living spaces are trying to bring back this communal feeling, especially for young, single urban professionals. This is also while rental in Singapore is soaring. Communal living might just be the solution to that – while bringing like-minded people together.

Is co-living artificial and dystopian?

The idea of co-living might seem too artificial to some, but it actually has many benefits. The biggest benefit of all is the reduced cost of living. Because co-living also stresses on bringing people of same interest together, tenants can also trade skills and knowledge with each other, while being exposed to different cultures.

“We curate people and we the curate space. We want to get like-minded people to stay together. What is important is to create a real connection between our tenants and bring them together. I do not think it is artificial or dystopian at all!” says Calvin Cai, country head of Login Apartment.

What are your thoughts on communal living? Will it bring back the kampung feeling? Watch the film and let us know your thoughts.

4) Zakka: Miscellaneous Joy

As the famous adage goes, there’s no place like home. When you head home after a long, tiring day, you want to go back to a place that isn’t only comfortable, but also reflects you, your personality and your tastes.

As someone living in Singapore, you’re bound to work with a limited space that’s designated for you in your flat. You may find it difficult to personalise the space and be creative with it – but not for Herman Yap.

Zakka: the Japanese joy of everyday things

Featured in this episode is Herman Yap, a visual merchandise lecturer, and homeowner who utilizes the Zakka concept to create a home that personifies his individuality and eclecticism.

Zakka translates to miscellaneous, which means anything and everything can be used to decorate your space. Yes, that means any random item you can think of. However, to qualify as Zakka, an item must be attractive, sensitive, laden with subtext.

“The look and feel that I have here is derived from the Zakka concept, an idea that embraces a mish-mash of any and everything that can benefit one’s life or make it more comfortable,” says Herman.

Watch the film to learn more about how Herman infused Zakka into his home that looks stunningly Insta-worthy.

5) All The World’s A Stage

Ever imagined escaping into a space where there are very few boundaries? A space that can be everything and anything you want – and the only limit to it is your imagination?

In this episode, Claire Yang talks about the magical world of children theatre and how she and her team unravel the magic transforming an empty blackboard space into a whole different world. Claire is the Head Programmer at PLAYTime! Esplanade.

A portal into a different world

“Usually children and parents walk in and they go ‘wow’! Because it’s like stepping into a totally different world. And personally, that is why I go to the theater as well. I want to be transported into a different world through space,” Claire says.

According to Claire, the black box theater is the most flexible kind of space and has the most potential to be turned into any space we want it to be.

Watch the film to find out how Claire and her team make the most out of the black box theater to create a wonderful escape for the kids.


More films by Kenneth Chan here.

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