What does it mean when people come together and self-organise to do something for their community?

What is their role as participants in a complex, ever-changing city, and in helping to create better, more responsive urban environments?

And what do they ultimately tell us about the city that we live in, and the city that we want to live in?

Co-creating Urban Solutions: Community Initiatives in Singapore

This research project at the Singapore University of Technology and Design is focused on how cities are co-created through the voluntary participation of its residents. We explore initiatives that are self-formed and self-organised with the intent to provide a social benefit for a broader community – or in other words, people who identify an unmet need in their city and come up with their own playbook to do something about it. This can be as simple as organising a neighbourhood clean up, to something more complex, like creating a nationwide movement to change environmental policy. In Singapore, this is an emerging space, and seemingly everyone is trying to navigate the boundaries, potentials, conflicts and needs; to learn how to negotiate the space between a ground-up initiative and a traditionally top-down system; and to understand one another’s roles and capabilities.

Through conversations with initiative leaders, a survey of initiative participants, participatory workshops and secondary research, we consider:

  • What are the challenges and processes that people face in starting and sustaining their initiative?
  • How well are initiatives able to embed in a broader institutional and environmental context?
  • What is their potential to contribute to more responsive, adaptive cities?
  • What are the needs and tools that would build the capacity of community initiatives and help them become more impactful?