Call of the cicadas at Holland Village

Call of the cicadas at Holland Village
Working on the extension for Holland Village, one of three "identity nodes" under URA's Draft Master Plan 2013, are (from left) planner Daniel Leong, architect Terence Cheng, director of urban design Eliza Choo and senior director of physical planning Tan See Nin.

FUTURE visitors to a proposed community park in Holland Village can thank an unlikely benefactor for its development: cicadas.

It was the haunting chorus of these insects in the trees near the Housing Board (HDB) precinct next to Holland Village that spawned the idea to turn the grassy slope there into a hill park, says Mr Tan See Nin.

Mr Tan, who is senior director of physical planning at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), said the idea came to him earlier this year when he visited the HDB precinct to check out how it could be better connected to Holland Village.

"When I heard the cicadas, it brought me back to my visit to Labrador Nature Reserve, which is full of cicadas and very lush."

Mr Tan, who was speaking to The Straits Times in an exclusive interview on how the ideas crystallised into the final proposal, said: "You look back and see, this is Holland Village and yet here you have cicadas. This contrast was very surreal. So I said, 'Look, can we do something better with this place?'"

That "something better" emerged in the form of a proposal for what Mr Tan called a "hill park" - essentially a park built on a grassy slope next to Holland Village.

"We thought, why not use the slope? No one has done it before. There's no park in Singapore that makes use of a slope."

The hill park is part of a 6ha extension of Holland Village that will be developed under the Draft Master Plan 2013 unveiled last month.

The URA said new public spaces in the extension, such as the park, would provide areas for residents to meet and interact, and so inject more vibrancy into the neighbourhood.

Planners began to review the land use plan for Holland Village in 2010 and their ideas were refined over countless iterations, Mr Tan told The Straits Times in an interview at a cafe in Holland Village earlier this week.

They came up with a "first-cut" proposal and spoke to grassroots leaders in the area, who suggested that the land use plan should make sure Holland Village does not turn into an "exclusive enclave", he recalled.

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