In future: Tech-driven workers’ villages?

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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May 8, 2020 6:00 AM SGT
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - Technology will “definitely help” in the future workers’ dormitories, says Shamkumar Subramani, CEO of TS Group, co-owner and operator of Tuas View Dormitory and the upcoming Pioneer Lodge.
For instance, TS Group is already using the Telegram app to provide updates on the Covid-19 outbreak, as well as any information or notices to clients and residents. “As the residents are confined to their rooms during this period, tech definitely helps in keeping them informed,” says Shamkumar. “Videos, text messages — these are the best and fastest ways to communicate with them.”
When asked to re-imagine what future workers’ dormitories could look like, Rene Tan, co-founder of RT+Q Architects, says: “Instead of workers’ dormitory, why not a workers’ ‘village’?”
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EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - With a tiered configuration, there will be more space for safe distancing — both during sleeping and waking hours — as well as space for flow and circulation, says Tan of RT+Q (Sketch by Rene Tan, RT+Q Architects) - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
With a tiered configuration, there will be more space for safe distancing — both during sleeping and waking hours — as well as space for flow and circulation, says Tan of RT+Q (Sketch by Rene Tan, RT+Q Architects)

Tiered bunk beds, high ceilings

If there is space constraint, instead of vertical bunk-bed stacking in the rooms, a staggered or terraced configuration could be considered, says Tan. With a tiered configuration, there will be more space for safe distancing — both during sleeping and waking hours — as well as space for flow and circulation, he adds.
Ceiling height in the rooms could also be raised, with vaulted ceilings or skylights, says Tan. This will reduce claustrophobia, bring in more natural light, allow greater air circulation and provide a view of the outside.
Workers’ dormitories need not be devoid of greenery. “Provision of greenery is probably a matter of economics, but it is ideal if a sustainable solution can be found,” says Koh Sock Mui, associate at RT+Q.
Hence, the selection of the kind of greenery is critical — “a species that is low maintenance, yet enhances the living experience”, adds Jonathan Quek, associate at RT+Q.
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Community plots, rethinking shared spaces

Another feature that could help in softening the workers’ dormitories is an area set aside for community plots, reckons Koh of RT+Q. “Those who wish to, can grow their own vegetables and not have to buy everything they want to cook,” she adds.
If communal facilities such as kitchen and toilets can be shared between smaller groups of people and co-located with their sleeping quarters, “it would allow for better isolation-in-place, in the event of a future pandemic”, points out Koh. “It will also allow for workers to take responsibility for the state and hygiene of their communal facilities. Education in this respect may be needed.”
Common circulation spaces should also be well-ventilated, adds Koh. Some hostels allow for personal lockable storage and curtains for individual bunks for privacy. These could be adapted for non-air-conditioned environments, perhaps through the use of open-weave material, she adds.
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Reconfiguring the layout of the shower facilities and toilets to be efficient and yet provide privacy among the residents should also be explored, says Quek of RT+Q.
The workers’ dormitories today are austere, utilitarian and barracks-style. But it need not be, says Tan of RT+Q, adding: “It could be a village setting, with a mix of low- and high-rise structures.”
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