Spaces that open up society

It was great to read about people making full use of ‘State Land’ in Singapore for casual community use in today’s Sunday Plus. In fact, this policy to open up spaces for public use should continue and even be expanded.

Such help develop communities and a sense of ownership as the people who use them will take the initiative to maintain it. More importantly, space should be ‘open’ to all races, ages and walks of life. Too often, spaces here are built exclusively for those of a certain age group or class, such as shopping malls. The zoning of spaces for residential and commercial use also limits space to just a single use. What is built is then a city of communities divided by interests, age, class; and hardly any interaction amongst them.

By ‘opening’ up space, people can come together in a more casual and coincidental manner. Just like how we make land developers create spaces for greenery and the arts in their buildings, there should be a law to have public spaces too. These spaces should be kept open to all and there is no need for any expensive furniture except some seats and tables — let the people fill in the rest. This will no doubt be a more messy environment as things are less planned, but the interaction of different people in an open space will help build a more tolerant and creative society.