Design of the Year 2016
Enabling Village
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WOHA Architects Pte Ltd
Ronnie & Koh Consultants Pte Ltd
AE&T Consultants Pte Ltd
Davis Langdon KPK (Singapore) Pte Ltd
Salad Dressing
Sunray Woodcraft Construction Pte Ltd
SG Enable Ltd

“The objective was to ensure

we did not create a place purely

for people with disabilities.

It had to be for everyone.”

Located in Redhill, the Enabling Village, designed by WOHA, is a demonstration of heartland rejuvenation and community building. Through a comprehensive masterplan and adaptive reuse of the former Bukit Merah Vocational Institute built in the 1970s, the property was repurposed to become an inclusive space that integrates education, work, training, retail and lifestyle, connecting people with disabilities and the wider society. The Enabling Village is envisioned as both a park destination and part of the neighbourhood’s daily commute network. To create this holistic integrated environment, WOHA’s design includes architecture, interior design, way-finding, lighting and the incorporation of art. WOHA also worked closely with Salad Dressing to develop the landscaping. The buildings – Nest, Playground, Village Green, Hive, Hub and Academy, which are names that reflect their functions – are seamlessly connected by ramps, landings and lifts. The main pond is anchored by the Nest which serves as a figurative beacon, drawing pedestrian flow through the new linkways. A timber terrace, laid over the courtyard at the Playground, steps down as an amphitheatre with integrated ramps. Pre-cast concrete pipes are inserted below the amphitheatre as resting nooks. The open space between Village Green and Hive is a garden yard with recycled oil drum planters and repurposed shipping containers that act as bridges, follies and meeting rooms. Landscaping and water gardens feature a wide variety of plants that complement conserved trees, attract biodiversity and support ecosystems; whilst verandahs and cabanas extend out of passages as outdoor meeting spaces that bring nature closer to people.


Founded by Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell in 1994, WOHA is particularly known for intertwining local context and tradition with an ongoing exploration of contemporary architectural form-making and ideas. Environmental principles are fundamental to its work, which explains its unique approach to tropical architecture and urbanism, that weaves landscape and community space through porous structures. _e firm’s projects in Southeast Asia, China, and Australia include luxury resorts, mass-transit stations, condominiums, and public buildings. It has won many architectural awards including President’s Design Award Singapore – Designer of the Year and seven Designs of the Year, Aga Khan for Architecture Award, the RIBA Lubetkin Prize, and four World Architecture Festival Awards. At the 2016 Venice Biennale, WOHA launched a new book, called Garden City Mega City, in which it shows how integrated landscape, architecture and urbanism can improve quality of life within high density environments, especially in the exploding mega cities of the tropical belt.


Enabling Village encourages designers to build a better world through design, by not designing. This project is an integration of multiple disciplines: architecture, urban design, lighting, landscaping, way-finding and spatial design. It is the first of its kind, and represents a natural evolution of place-making, where the redesign of the space is driven by the needs of the users. There is no deliberate attempt to impose the designers’ signatures. It is a sensitively conceived social space that breaks down fences to integrate communities and transform lives. Enabling Village energises Redhill and Lengkok Bahru. It has become a well-loved community space that welcomes people of diverse abilities, as well as residents of the neighbourhood.


Denise Phua Lay Peng
Autism Resource Centre

The Enabling Village is a purposefully designed community space that combines retail, lifestyle and training in a public space that is accessible to all, and that is dedicated to serving everyone, with or without disabilities. It is a place that connects the disabled with job opportunities, and with the rest of society. Within this space, voluntary welfare organisations such as the Autism Resource Centre, Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore, and the Society for the Physically Disabled provide training and employment services. WOHA was entrusted with the task of reimagining the site as a new community heart that connects people with disabilities, residents and the public. The firm removed all physical barriers, extended linkages and crafted a variety of shared spaces, ponds, gardens and amenities that breathe life into the spaces between and within buildings. The accessible nature of the Village creates an inclusive environment that integrates people with disabilities in a way that puts them on an equal basis with the community. For the Employability and Employment Centre, WOHA was tasked with repurposing two existing single-storey blocks to accommodate The Art Faculty, an art gallery and workshop, and Hive, a working and training space. WOHA envisaged the blocks as big containers with objects and rooms sharing a common garden yard. In keeping with the goal of up-cycling, second-hand sea containers were repurposed in The Art Faculty as activity rooms and garden follies. The Hive unifies multi-functional training and working rooms behind a super-wall that is emblazoned with inspirational graphics and framed windows that reveal the activities within. Due recognition must be accorded to designs that encompass inspirational qualities, engage innovative ideas, and allow opportunities for individuals to bond and connect. The Enabling Village is one such design, and it would be a deserving recipient of the President’s Design Award.