Friday 9 August 2013

9 projects receive Minister's Team Awards 2013

By Alice Chia, Channel NewsAsia, 7 Aug 2013

Nine projects that helped transform Singapore into an endearing home and distinctive global city have won the Minister's Team Awards.

The awards recognise innovative projects carried out by national development agencies.

The team behind the Housing and Development Board's (HDB) Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme, which was launched in July 2012, was one of the winners.

Some of the improvements to help elderly residents minimize the risk of falls include installing grab bars and slip-resistant floor tiles in flats.

Members of the team received the award from National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Lawrence Pak Yew Hock, director (upgrading programmes) at HDB’s development and procurement group, said: "The biggest challenge, of course, is working with the elderly. They speak in many different languages. Other than the four major (languages) that we have, there will be elderly that speak in dialects. Not all of them can speak English… HDB worked together with partners. We came up with videos on the iPad in five dialects.

"Moving forward, we hope to bring in more, educate more of the elderly on the need for this product, more promotions for the other towns so that more elderly will buy in to the idea."

The cost of the programme is around S$2,000 per flat.

As the government subsidises up to 95 per cent of the cost, Singapore citizens would pay an amount ranging from S$100 to S$250, depending on their flat type.

The programme has been well-received by households.

Among residents taking part in the Home Improvement Programme (HIP), over 50 per cent have opted for EASE improvements.

HDB residents who are not taking part in HIP can also submit an application to be considered for EASE.

As at 30 July 2013, some 3,000 such direct applications were received.

EASE is expected to benefit around 130,000 households with elderly residents.

The team behind the Wisma Geylang Serai project was also recognised.

The new civic centre, which will be developed at the site of the former Malay Village, is to be an activity hub that encourages vibrant street life.

Zulkiflee Mohd Zaki, director of physical planning, central east, at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, said: "One of the challenges was trying to blend the contemporary with some of the more traditional Malay elements so that the building will still relate to Geylang Serai. We also had professional architects who are Malay traditional architects, and also professional architects from the Singapore Institute of Architects, to develop design guidelines that will embody architectural language within a contemporary setting."

This year, the awards received 15 nominations.

The projects were judged on three criteria: how innovative they were, the degree of collaboration involved and how they would benefit residents.

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