Since the 1960s when Jane Jacobs highlighted the importance of diversity for creating attractive and economically viable neighbourhoods (Jacobs 1992 ), the term diversity has developed to a primary term in the urban planning vocabulary.
While the term diversity is generally speaking seen as a positive term, one that replaces prior ideals of modernism such as functional separation and promises to e.g. stimulate creativity, foster social justice and offers multiple choices for the individual, it is also an elusive term that asks for further refinement and clarification.
Our objective is to distinguish the term diversity further, by contextualizing the term. Furthermore we plan to give an insight onto how, once the term is contextualized, it can inform planning strategies for a specific site.
The team has undertaken an in depth study of the ROCHOR+ district. Through extensive site surveys as well as interviews of different stake holders the team came to establish the two following prevailing criteria to depict ROCHOR’s diversity: proximity and uniqueness. While many neighbourhoods in Singapore can be described as diverse on a neighbourhood scale, very few unify strong contrasts like ROCHOR+ on the urban block scale. Uniqueness on the other hand proves the districts ability to also be able to cater for specific needs that other neighbourhoods cannot cater for.
One will see e.g. trendy café bars located right next to and thriving on the nostalgia image of hardware stores or illegal worker dorms that share the same street address as luxury condominiums. Additionally the areas diversity will be depicted through a collection of what we termed ’canaries ’, businesses, people or situations that act as indicators showcasing the uniqueness of the area.
These indicators act as proof for our hypothesis that the area is diverse by highlighting its ability to accommodate not only ’standard ’ needs but also showcase it’s ability to cater for specific needs that other neighbourhood can not cater for.
For the ROCHOR+ neighbourhood we have selected to analyse the following ’Canaries’: building and public space typologies, the permeability of public private interfaces, specific uses e.g. small scale manufacturing, low end businesses, creative industry, lifestyle business, as well as ethnic clusters and public and private institutions clusters etc.
A supplementary goal of this research project is to propose planning strategies that will be able to guide the neighbourhood’s development as a ”diverse” neighbourhood in the future e.g. through a “Community Space Network Plan”.