Goodlife! Makan is an innovative social initiative created by Montfort Care, a voluntary welfare organisation, to support ageing-in-place, built around meaningful pastimes that address the physical and mental wellness of seniors. This cheerfully designed 360sqm recreational centre is situated at the void deck of a HDB block in Marine Parade, with a communal kitchen as its nucleus. The place aims largely at reconnecting stay-alone elderly to the wider community to facilitate multi-generational exchanges. With cooking and dining together as the essence of the experience, this activity space provides opportunities for senior residents to interact and socialise through Singapore’s rich and easily understood food culture, while developing roles and responsibilities from the rituals of food preparation and consumption. The facility reinterprets social settings for the elderly, as a pioneering and alternative model that is inclusive and cost-efficient to create and maintain across open neighbourhoods.
The design team worked closely with the client to understand the emotional, psychological and social needs of the growing aged community in Singapore. The comfortable and attractive design transformed the void deck into a social nucleus centred around the communal activity of cooking and eating. Due consideration was given to the movement patterns of the elderly, in their daily acts of cooking, dining, cleaning up and mingling within an intimate space; these activities empower the seniors as contributors of society. Furthermore, through these activities, stories can be shared and friendships forged.
Respecting the spatial quality of a void deck, the design capitalised on its porous setting to create an open and fenceless compound, to reduce social stigma and address the psyche of the stay-alone seniors. The experimental design shifts away from conventional gated or glazed-up elderly activity centre models to create an inviting communal space, seamlessly integrated with surrounding streets and walkways. Through the use of an extensive array of full-height transparent glass doors along its entire frontage, Goodlife! Makan is highly accessible, while allowing effective cross-ventilation and daylight to flood the recreational and social space. The glass doors also keep the facility sheltered in the event of adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain or haze.
This notion of openness extends to the interior space where the kitchen forms the vibrant heart of the open plan, around which spaces were organised to complement the preparation and partaking of food. Strategically positioned mobile partitions allow the flexibility of multiple concurrent activities and events of different scales to take place.
Aligning with the client’s vision of ageing as an active and lively process, a bright and vivid palette of colours and textures were used to create a distinctive and vibrant setting. An integrated furniture and shelving system houses local spices, food ingredients and utensils which serve as wider textural indicators to reinforce the colour zoning and subtle differentiation of the various activity areas. Universally understood signages and pictograms aid elderly from all language and ethnic backgrounds to understand how to use the space. This inclusive gesture introduces a touch of fun and quirkiness to the community space, and contributes to its lively and dynamic character.