Meet Larry, a 30 years old senior project associate from Participate in Design (P!D), a non-profit design organisation who advocates for a participatory and community-centric approach in doing design and planning of cities and neighbourhoods.
When we discuss the realm of design in building an architectural structure or public spaces, most of us think that the brainwork and conceptualisation lie fully in the hands of the designer – traditionally. Well, that’s only partially true for Participate in Design (P!D) – for all the right reasons. In participatory design, everyone has the right to participate in and influence the design and planning processes that affect them, and as such P!D provides services in designing and facilitating the public participation and engagement process concerning the built environment.
We spoke with the down-to-earth and affable Larry, who articulated his thoughts on the participatory and community-centric design approach that P!D employs in their line of duty for the benefit of the community.
What made you veer away from the traditional architectural path seemingly set out for you?
Larry: I was introduced to participatory design back in architecture school. I was inspired by its inclusiveness and how meaningful it is when the people involved participates in the design process which results in a wonderful wholesome outcome. 2 years being in local architecture scene was enough to realise that the participatory design element concepts were absent locally, and there was a trigger point when I felt the professional values did not fit my personal values. When I discovered P!D, the rest was history.
What is the most memorable experience you’ve had at work?
Larry: Interacting with the community before we embark on the actual design execution is a norm in participatory design, but there was one project when a community space was kept instead of being removed in a neighbourhood renewal plan due to our community engagement findings. It was a testament of how powerful the voice of the community was when a discussion arose with the experts and architects. It was a very meaningful project.
What do you hope to achieve here in P!D?
Larry: I certainly hope that through our work in P!D, we can inspire more planners, architects, designers and artists to adopt a participatory approach in their works. Also I certainly hope to inspire our next generation to join us on this path to creating a more inclusive Singapore.
How would you encourage other youths to be an everyday hero?
Larry: The world is critical and mean enough, why not spread some simple love, smiles and kindness to people around of you?
Participatory design may be unheard of and a relatively new approach in the Singapore environment, but it certainly looks promising to us! While practising inclusivity across the things we do in life, it is always uplifting that organisations and people are actively advocating this. Larry’s role in advocating and executing participatory design is paving way for communities to not just engage, but it gives rise to a possibility of a closely-knitted community that communicates and understands each other to achieve a greater good. Our conversation with Larry ended on an inspiring note – on what doing good means to him.
“When you talk good, write good, think good, eventually you will do good.” I guess that is what doing good means to me, and of course not forgetting to spread positive energy to people around in whatever you do.
Thank you Larry for being a hero in your own right!
Everyday Heroes is an online series that captures stories of youths creating impact and embracing possibilities to build a more positive community in Singapore. Most importantly, they help stand as positive reminders that doing good doesn’t have to look a certain way!
#EverydayHeroes #TheHiddenGood #sgyouthcares #nycsg