Nostalgic Futures: Speculative Design for the Last Kampung on mainland Singapore

by SIT Design & Specialised Business | Prof Jawn Lim

Kampung Lorong Buangkok (KLB) is the last kampung on mainland Singapore. There are plans for it to make way for urban redevelopment as indicated in the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Masterplan 2014. In its place, the kampung is supposed to be replaced by a 3-lane bi-directional highway, 2 schools (primary and secondary), and a public park. Much heritage will be lost. What our future generations want from an urban environment are fundamentally the same as everyone else today: safe and clean streets, access to green space, clean air, things to do, the ability to get around, the freedom to see friends, and somewhere to call home. Therefore, the design challenge is to produce viable, feasible and desirable proposals for the KLB site through speculative design. Thought-provoking proposals could include, but not be limited to, imagining the preservation of KLB with integrated spaces such as a learning living lab where our children can experience the nostalgia of the past while integrating with Singapore’s own unique cultural, political, socioeconomic and environmental context.

Make Us Human

To quote Geh Min in her article, Singapore Home or Hotel “A society that places no visible value on continuity will create future generations who are adrift on market forces than one anchored by a shared nationhood to country and fellow countrymen.”

We are apprehensive about Singapore’s future with regards to the pace of urban renewal. Historical buildings which give us a sense of belonging and place are often being replaced by crisp, monotonous and soulless buildings. With this loss, would Singaporeans still work together for the betterment of the country?

Hence we are proposing Kampong Lorong Buangkok 2040 as an alternative towards this urbanism. By introducing Non-Profit Organisations as well as people from different backgrounds in Singapore to inhabit the space. We want to create a lively village that amplifies the values of multiculturalism and Gotong Royong, the spirit of helping others in need. Which we have identified as important values that creates a sense of rootedness in the community.

We hope that our intervention can allow the kampong to be an asset that future generations can experience and not just images tucked away in the corner of national archives and forgotten.

Project by Ze Ming, Angel & Sabrina


01 - Back to our roots: Kampong Lorong Buangkok envisioned as a whole, inspired by the characteristics of inhabitation in a traditional Malay Kampong house 02 - First impression: The frontline consists of a Food Market, Kopi and Book Corner and a Craft Area to show pieces of the identity and community in the Kampong to the general public 03 - Togetherness: Existing homes are combined together under one roof to show a strong and unified front that identifies a Kampong, through different activities that can be enjoyed in our everyday lives 04 - A home away from home: A place where city dwellers can have a breather and where migrants can find assistance and feel at home while experiencing the authenticity of a Kampong 05 - Building relationships: The Intergenerational Centre is a space for both children and seniors, where the opportunity to interact and learn from each other and kampong residents happens, through crafts or other enriching experience that can only be found in the Kampong

Secret Eden

Kampong Lorong Buangkok has been described as a secret Eden, a jarring sight amidst the mass of modern, and pristine apartment blocks. The romanticism of the simplistic nature of kampong life has led to many fighting for the preservation of the ‘safe haven’. Having long withstood the allure of progression, its resident chooses to retain the community and way of life that it so cherishes.

The kampong spirit that many in concrete grid-like apartments yearn for is something that prevails in the haphazard kampong to this day. However, we seek to preserve the physical shell of the kampong, almost as if it holds the secret to attaining kampong spirit within its walls. We act like retaining its shell guarantees that future generations would be able to learn from our pasts and understand their roots.

To this assumption, we must challenge the notion that the physicality of the kampong allows them to immerse in the kampong life. Does the retention of the physical buildings translate the simplistic way of life, the community unique to kampong, and the rejuvenation of being surrounded by natural elements bode well in translation across generations?

Project by Gracelyn, Aisyah, Rui Ting


01 - We highlighted what we predict to be significant moments in the future of Kampong Lorong Buangkok, to intertwine the people, community, and the kampong itself 02 - Culture of coexistence: Facilitating a sustainable method of preserving the privacy of residents while remaining open to curious visitors seeking authentic kampong experiences 03 - Revitalise & immerse: Reaching a shared intergenerational understanding of what the kampong spirit means through exposure as well as opportunities for sharing of memories. 04 - Leverage on technology: Building on its potential to provide for the people beyond the kampong, thus fortifying the community 05 - Cultivating a community: In an era where people have self-isolated due to over-reliance on technology, we seek to bring back the kampong spirit by creating a community

Find out more about SIT here