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Bedok Social Club is a collaborative research and information architecture project designed to provide insights into the various social habits, routines, phenomena and interactions of the elderly community residing inside Singapore’s most densely populated town, Bedok. The project introduced new perspectives of Bedok town and the elderly folks through the curation of information of the extensive
on-site research conducted in the bustling heartland.

Bedok
Social Club

 

Bedok town is Singapore's largest planning site in the east and the most desnely poplualted area with the elederly taking up the majority of the percentage. We embarked on countless on-site visits looking into the various interactions of human to human and their surrounding environments and objects,  uncovering pheonmeanas and data analyses on how the society and segments of communities live and commute in their day to day.


Taking on the research lead role on this project, the scope of my works include conducting various data analyses and evaluations, systematically, gathering insights and coming up with hypotheses, applying statistical research methods and techniques thus translating the condensed and recapped data into the information architecture. Definitely, the most exciting part is analyzing patterns in observations through the entire data collecting phase.

 

The Bedok Social Club publication ticked off a few memorable milestones and was showcased in LASALLE's Praxis Space as a part of the year's Open House. Above all, we had numbers of audiences inquiring us on Bedok town, posed high interest on the datas as the majority are unaware of this not-so-obvious culture and interactions of the "daily" things among Bedok elderlies that we uncovered. These particular observations and data were a curiously inquired topic and indeed even among ourselves, we want the particular area of inquiry to be taken further as a separate design research topic or thesis - specifically on the social spaces and the culture of the town. Personally, I would think the biggest checklist of our main goals was to discover sets of data and affirm hypotheses that have not been published or available in your google search and secondary materials.

ROLE

Research lead, Information architecture, Data gathering and analyses,  Illustrations, Publication design.

PROJECT CREDITS

Bedok Social Club Team
Editor and Copywriter: Jack Li
Art Director and Illustrator: Carlyn Ong

DETAILS 

Bedok Social Club
2019

EXHIBIITON & FEATURES

LASALLE Open House 2019
Praxis Space

Exhibiton Showcase

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Project Background
 

We take on this information architecture project from scratch collecting data on-site, in Bedok for about one and a half months, regularly visiting the town to its every end corners; gathering raw data and observing all the various townscape (paths, landmarks edges), to the phenomena and interactions of the environment, objects and people and culture. What you are looking at was not born out of existing data or what people are saying about the town, but this was possible through intensive data gathering, synthesis of raw findings and re-targeting, and fixing hypotheses.

 

This particular project was indeed an excellent exercise, personally and to my own practice and discipline, to use more of our senses to observe our surroundings more receptively. The specific 4 things we looked at were the interactions of (1) man-man (2) man-environment (3) man-objects and (4) objects-environment. It is almost a totally different experience visiting the town for a certain need and purpose compared to what we were doing for 1,5 months. We would spend countless hours or in most cases, the entire day observing the towns and all the phenomena, and with all of that, we present our precious research data into newspaper publication format which art direction would reflect the town, the culture, and the people we are learning about.

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On Bedok
Social Club

Through various quantitative research methods in gathering data and observing Bedok, we uncovered various interactions and sets of unique phenomena in the town and its people, specifically the elderly of Bedok, understanding the norms of how they live, commute, socialize, their leisure times and the interactions of man-object-environment and vice versa. 

 

The Bedok Social Club information architecture collaborative project include lists of extensive onsite research gathering raw findings, curating our own research methods, testing out hypotheses on various phenomena and clarifying data analyses from observing patterns. In this production of an information architecture publication, we aim to produce and present sets of data and that would provide new perspectives in looking into the Bedok’s town culture, the elderly population, from the social habits and routines and their environment, specifically on accessibility point s and social spaces, would discover data beyond what the currently available secondary materials could provide.

Looking into
Bedok Town

Bedok is the oldest residential town in Singapore with its development process beginning as early as 1973. As the largest planning area in Singapore, Bedok boasts a total of residential population of 281,300 in 2018, giving it the highest density percentage of the island. The highest percentage of the age distribution belongs to the elderly group of 50-59 years old (approximately 43,310 as of 2019) followed by the age group of 40-49 and 60-69 years old.

With the bustling town’s large area, we take our research focus on Bedok North. Among Bedok’s subzones, namely the reservoir, Bedok south, Frankel, Kaki Bukit, Kembangan, Siglap, and Bayshore, Bedok North contains the highest amount of resident in its area.

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The Elderly and
Research Parameters

As briefly mentioned on the town's densely populated with the elderly age group, it is clearly evident in all of the town's areas and spaces, we can definitely see the identified age group around commuting. Initially we were thinking if we would look at the lesser percentage of the younger group in their 20s, if we could actually find interesting pehonomena on that but turns out, really it didn't take us long enough that we found numerous of "wait, what?" moments and various very very interesting culture and social interactions among the elderlies in Bedok town that we are very keen on looking into furhter.

With the clear classification and clarificaiton of our "target audience" group, the elderly, we set the parameters of the on-site research and data gathering. The date and time are grouped into two different timings; the weekend and weekday and for the other parameters that we set, is something that we observe that the elderly would hang out in a specific number of groups or alone; therefore we want to investigate on this further if we could see any patterns through the categorisation of the number of people in a social gathering to be deemed as "social".

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Social and 
Anti-Social

As the main observation and research topic of the project, with just a couple of visits (and of course spending the entire day on each visit camouflaging as a Bedok residence), there is this very interesting phenomena that we found; why are the public spaces, from the void decks and the playgrounds are completely empty? considering the densely populated Bedok town and the 60 something thousands of the elderlies. There were only 1-2 people visible on weekdays and only a couple more during the weekends.

 

We lost count of how many times we asked this among ourselves; where are the people of Bedok? Almost all, no, 95% of all public spaces that are supposed to be the public space in the vicinity of the residential area informed by our secondary data are empty, from the chairs on the decks, the parks, the outdoor gym area. I guess also at this point we realized that when it comes to understanding and uncovering certain habits and culture of the people in a specific area, secondary reach materials would never give sufficient amount of data well, this also in turns motivates us to carry on this research inquiry further.

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Common Space vs
Spontaneous Space

Now to answer the previous question; where are the people of Bedok? the following is the answer; the Kopitiams. This is such a huge contrast, witnessing with our own eyes, the Kopitiam are super packed -and always packed no matter the weekends or weekdays, with about 85% of them are elderlies and are majority seen hanging out in groups of 2-5. 

The second observation which is another main highlight of our project inquiry is the "spontaneous space" well- this label is half a legit term and the other half, we came up with it to make the categorisation easier. This spontaneous space defines as a space that is "created" by the elderly, to be specific, we found that the elderlies like to create their own gathering space near an existing common space that they like to socialise t in. For example, outside/ the surrounding perimeters of the kopitiams or supermarket areas or existing common space, they would bring their own chair (mostly taken from the kopitiams) and have their own space with their own groups of friends. This was a very unique "norm" to witness in the town (refer to the second set of slides).

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One critical observation we found in these Kopitiams is that there are very little or sometimes no handicapped elderly seen -as from our other sets of findings, we see quite a number of elderly commuting on wheelchairs but we rarely see them in these bustling Koptiiams. We then also went ahead and look into the accessibility points, like stairs, ramps, railings, and the best of all -toilets. We found that there are adequate numbers of these in the residential vicinities but lacking these direct accessibility points in the kopitam areas, especially in the smaller ones, lacked the availability of handicapped toilets. And the fact that these areas\ are one of the key social spaces in the town, all elderly handicapped or able-bodied are supposed to have the convenience in commuting and socialising.

The following are a few of the samples of our trips on how we measure, find, gather, label and categorise the areas of the spontaneous spaces and other specific sets of data. As the Bedok town and its subzones are very huge, we divided our trips into 3 sections in one go for larger observations and 3 different timings for smaller radius. We would have the entire GPS data sorted out at the end of each trips and label all of the specific set of data, phenomena and patterns we are looking for the specific trips and to re-visit, to seek out patterns and analyze findings.

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Sample of Area of Visit

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Sample of Marked Spontaneous Space Areas/Locations

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Sample of Marked Spontaneous Space Areas/Locations with Route Taken

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The Bedok
Social Club

After weeks and weeks of going back and forth to Bedok and Bedok and Bedok, the following are the final "product" of our information architecture publication piece. Through various experimentations and careful considerations on the medium and format, we want to present our data in (that includes previous ideas such as a dictionary book, a town map and interactive digital infographic), we want to translate the senses and ambience of the town, its people and the cultures in a tangible form, something that would be familiar in the hands of many. Therefore, we decided on going forward with the art direction and present this social club information architecture publication in a newspaper format and printing with a cheeky twist and "fiction" narrative, playful copy and, some dad jokes I suppose.

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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To view the full Bedok Social Club pdf please click on the link

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In Retrospective
/Afterwords

If I could mark the best and my most favourite project of the entire 2019, Bedok social club would easily be the one, that I had the most fun and overwhelming excitement working on, it is almost like those field trips we had on our primary/ secondary school. And when I thought about that -to reflect a bit on this particular project, it was to just simply gather data or make a groundbreaking information architecture project and research findings. 

Taking on the research lead for this project it was sure quite overwhelming, not to mention leading a team for 21.69 km² Bedok Town. But I truly gained another valuable learning from this role. I look back to how, during those field trips when we were younger, we would be easily fascinated, and innocently curious on everything, on how the paddy field smells like a mix of petrichor and poops, why the cats only respond to certain calls or why the security uncle would be ready at 6 a.m. to play chess by himself  (this was my case in Indonesia). I think as we are getting older, and especially in the field of design research, some has become less curious, less observant and less sensitive to our surrounding, and this project helped me to re-exercise and bring these senses and qualities back. 

"Discover and uncover the obvious that is not obvious", that is a terrible sentence but that was what I thought of, on the nature of critically noticing and observing, has becoiming something a lot overlook, and this also relates back to our nature towards being empathic and receptive to what is around us, only when you are to be fully present that you would discover what you’re looking for. Like how the Bedok elderlies have been living in such cultural context for years, we would need countless hours to months to discover such, and in turns we found greater research findings, that could be an inquiry of its own, and I would say, the lists of improvement on the town development that the town should be looking at. And I think this particular reflection on me as an individual and also towards my discipline is something I value the most through Bedok Social club.