KamPONG is a collaboration between Innoverde (green technology company) and Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to foster “kampong spirit” and social interactions by setting up pop-up table tennis tables in public places across Singapore. The project is launched in September 2015 during URA’s Park(ing) Day initiative where parking spots are temporarily transformed into public spaces. Following the success from active public participation in the Park(ing) Day, KamPONG is expanding to other public places including those in commercial areas (e.g. Asia Square, Raffles Place Park).
KamPONG is launched as part of URA’s PubliCity initiative, which aims to “create new public spaces and rejuvenate existing public spaces”. Pop-up projects like KamPONG is a core focus of PubliCity, as they demonstrate possibilities of existing public spaces and “transform places where people don’t usually linger”. KamPONG and other PubliCity projects take place in the form of public-private partnership, since this is recognised as key to “successful creation and activation of public spaces”. It is hoped that this would set an exemplar for building owners to do the same to public spaces in their property. However, this doesn’t mean that the community is excluded from participating in this urban intervention. In KamPONG, the public is engaged via social media and websites to allow instant feedback as well as suggestions of public spaces for KamPONG. For instance, the installation at Raffles Place Park is initiated by a netizen who commented on Facebook.
As table tennis is one of the seven core sports of Singapore, KamPONG is well-received by the public. In fact, the sport is embedded in Singapore’s culture as shown by its popularity at void decks of public housing estates. By introducing table tennis to public spaces, KamPONG achieves its aims of rejuvenating underutilised spaces and promoting social interactions while experiencing health benefits. Apart from targeting at the appropriate activity to revive the community spirit, it is also noteworthy that the materials used are eco-friendly, weatherproof and lightweight which is easy to set up in public spaces.
Despite KamPONG’s unique design and context in Singapore, it is not a novel idea to place pop-up ping-pong tables in public spaces. A similar project, Ping England, was established a few years ago in the UK for the same purposes. Hence, this type of intervention is applicable worldwide especially in Asian cities. Image: © Ka Chu