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Space standards

For bathrooms and toilets, consideration should be given to allowing space at the side of the water closet for older persons to transfer from a wheelchair or to be assisted by their caregiver. Grab bars should be installed to facilitate transfer.

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Interview with Mr Lee Yew Kwung, CapitaLand Residential Singapore

Reported on:
19 September 2012
"...As a developer who believes in creating homes that will last generations, we strive to embed UD in our design philosophy..."

The UD pen had the privilege of meeting with Mr Lee Yew Kwung, Senior Vice-President, Project Development & Management at CapitaLand Residential Singapore Pte Ltd (CRS).  Mr Lee has been with CapitaLand for 15 years and is known for his passion for creating liveable homes for people.  He is a proponent of Universal Design and believes that accessible building designs must first begin from the desire to care for one another.

"UD is from the HEART..."

Universal Design, to Mr Lee, is firmly rooted in the belief that “it is an expression of a person’s consideration, care and empathy for his fellow community members”.  He stressed that Universal Design is as much for the physically impaired as for the able-bodied and therefore, everyone.  Every person will experience the need for practical, sensible and relevant design features at various stages of his life.

When asked about the thought process of how Universal Design is planned and applied in a property development project, he simply answered;

 “…it really starts from the heart!”

As a developer, he believes that one must build from the “heart” to be able to consider the persons that the building is for. “Building for people is about building high quality and functional living spaces that cater to the needs of our homebuyers as their lifestyles evolve over the years. A building cannot be designed simply by looking at what are the “nice to have” features. A good developer must understand the needs and lifestyles of his target buyer segment and how they will interact with the built environment, now and through the various stages of their lives.”

"Speaking UD into the Build Project"

We asked Mr Lee how he typically briefs an architect on an upcoming project.  He explains that “it is a balance that requires you to first understand the perspectives of the various parties involved.  A good design brief is crucial, and a good developer is one who is able to balance aesthetics with function.  Managing the architects well and helping them take ownership of the project from the very first meeting will set the stage to get them thinking about Universal Design.

"The Importance of Outreach & Publicity for an Inclusive Society?"

Mr Lee also stressed the importance of education and outreach in paving the way towards an environment that is more functional and accessible.  He highlighted that Universal Design messaging has to be driven in tandem with operational and capacity-building initiatives to help developers understand that Universal Design is more than an additional consideration.

Changing mindset is often the biggest challenge. “Sometimes a solution may not be the most ideal, given site constraints or even authorities’ requirements.  We hope to see more openness among the parties involved, so that we can work together to push through ideas which we think are helpful in achieving UD goals,” said Mr Lee.  He added that mindset cannot be changed overnight and UD outreach campaigns are key to raising awareness of the benefits of UD.

"Moving Ahead..."

When asked what will help push Singapore’s UD journey ahead, Mr Lee reiterates his belief about doing things from the heart, “Universal Design should be regarded as part of the design philosophy, rather than just another government requirement which we need to comply with.  The desire to create inclusive and accessible spaces for everyone in the community needs to become part of the design intent. We will all age one day.  So while some of these design considerations may not appear important today when you are still young and able-bodied, they may make a big difference in 30 to 40 years’ time. As a developer who believes in creating homes to last for generations, we will strive to embed UD in our design philosophy.”
Thank you, Mr Lee, for the insightful views.

The U.D. Pen

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