Socially Responsive Design
The library is not just a foreign architect’s philanthropic project in a rural community, but a product of community engagement and cultural exchange. Together with 5 other Singaporean families, we conducted the library’s opening ceremony and even put up a musical to demonstrate the flexibility of the design. For a community living under the poverty line, it is more than just a library.
1.INTEGRATION OF LOCAL CULTURE
The project uses entirely locally sourced materials.
The rattan screens were produced by the Rattan Association of Cambodia, the cushions were custom-made by the village women and the modular bookshelves were manufactured by the nearby village’s labourers. Whenever replacement of screens are needed, the village women can be engaged to produce replacement parts with rattan, thus boosting the local economy. By integrating the locals’ work, we hoped to instill a greater sense of ownership amongst them. This will also encourage better care of the library and help to increase the longevity of the library. This also celebrates the local handicraft culture.
2.ELEVATING QUALITY OF EDUCATION
The library was designed to be a space of empowerment for underprivileged rural children. This new typology serves as a bridge between a lack of educational facility as well as the societal lack of interest to read. After the inception of the library, children are constantly drawn to the books and the villagers have also started to gather at the multi-functional space. It goes beyond just being a place for books, but also becomes an extended learning space and community centre for villagers. With the addition of this library, students can be better engaged and encouraged to remain in school, eventually graduating and being lifted out of poverty.
3.INSPIRING SOCIAL INTEREST
Bringing people together has always been our core motivation in our giving projects. Our designs of spaces aims to draw people from different backgrounds together. Through this library project, we brought together various professionals, stakeholders, educational institutions and NGOs together and also raised general awareness of our cause amongst our partners. We aim to take the lead and pave the way for more Singaporean design professionals to step forward and contribute their design services to the underprivileged in the Asian region.