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Creating a place youths can call their own along the Somerset Belt

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The Somerset Belt Masterplan was developed from the ideas and aspirations of 40,000 Singaporean youths.

We are all looking forward to the day when COVID-19 is finally over and we can visit town again with our friends. Even as we wait, there are exciting plans in motion to make a part of Orchard into a space youths can call their own. 

As part of the SGYouth Action Plan, and in support of the Singapore Together movement, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the National Youth Council (NYC) have been in consultation with over 40,000 youths from May to Dec 2019 to co-create and envision a future Somerset Belt. 

Somerset-Belt
These online and offline engagements allowed youths to share what they hope Somerset would look like in future. 

The resulting Somerset Belt Masterplan was developed to reflect the ideas and aspirations of Singaporean youths. 

Here are five things you can look forward to seeing unfold at the future Somerset Belt

Somerset-Belt-Site-Plan
The Somerset Belt encompasses *SCAPE, TripleOne Somerset, Skate Park, the Red Box and Youth Park, along with their surrounding areas. 

1. Spaces for both extroverts and introverts 

Whether you enjoy being in the middle of all the action or prefer a quiet space to relax, the Somerset Belt can cater to both with its 'Dual Spine Experience', comprising an Active Spine that runs along Grange Road and Somerset Road, and a Quiet Spine along Devonshire and Exeter Road. 

The Active Spine will be more vibrant and dynamic. Its pedestrian-friendly walkway could feature things like a rotating showcase of floor murals by youths, busking zones, and commercial activities that spill out from the buildings into the streets. 

Somerset-Belt
Get in the middle of the excitement at the Active Spine, which will feature vibrant performances from live buskers. 

The Quiet Spine, on the other hand, will have a restful and chilled out vibe.  

With soft lighting, rest stops, and landscaping, it will be a peaceful stretch to take a stroll with your friends or just a place to get away from the noise, while still being in the centre of town! 

2. Intuitive and comfortable pathways 

We've all been lost in the maze that is IKEA, or have struggled to find a friend at the other side of a huge mall (VivoCity, I'm looking at you).  

We can look forward to some specially designed smooth connections not just within the area, but also to the rest of Orchard Road. 

Enter key gateways into Somerset Belt from either Somerset MRT station or the *SCAPE junction, both of which will be made into iconic places. From there, sculptures, floor murals and appropriate signages will guide you and your friends through the vicinity. 

You can also expect smooth, barrier-free walkways, and smart landscaping to keep noise and heat away, making your visit both seamless and memorable. 

3. A variety of quality public spaces 

The Somerset Belt will have spaces for all your needs. 

From wide open spaces near the Skate Park for large events like flea markets or concerts to intimate corridors along *SCAPE and the Red Box where you can chill with friends, there are spaces that are just right for you along the youth belt. 

Fret not about the humid Singapore heat - public spaces in the Somerset Belt will be purpose built to ensure you do not break out in a huge sweat doing the things you love. 

Somerset-Belt
Outdoor movie screenings in the city? Why not!  

4. Spaces for you to transform for different needs 

Imagine a dance practice, a cooking workshop, or an art exhibition - all being held from the same place. With a 'Hybrid of Land Uses' strategy, each site in the Somerset Belt is built to accommodate multiple uses. 

For example, the Youth Park could be used as an exhibition space for young artists, while *SCAPE could be an incubator for ground-up ideas. 

All these provide opportunities to transform each space into whatever you can imagine.  

Somerset-Belt
A live DJ set in the middle of a skate park? The Somerset Belt lets you transform spaces to whatever you can imagine.   

5. A space for youths, by youths 

Beyond being a physical space for young Singaporeans, the Somerset Belt seeks to be the gathering point for many youth interest groups. After all, it's people who bring life to the place. 

The Somerset Belt is about young people coming together and taking ownership of the space to create a vibrant place that caters to various interests and communities.  

It will be a place for youths, by youths. You can grab your friends to start your own initiatives, or join someone else's and keep shaping Somerset to be what you want. 

Somerset-Belt
Senior Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng (right) hopes to continue working with youths to refine the Masterplan. 
PHOTO CREDITS: MCCY/NYC 

The Somerset Belt Masterplan has laid the groundwork for an exciting new precinct for us to look forward to and even be a part of creating. 

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Baey Yam Keng, who co-leads the Somerset Working Panel said: "The views of youths were central to the development of the Masterplan: developing ideas that could be tested and implemented in the Somerset Belt, as well as iterating and sharing feedback along the way. 

"This partnership and co-creation with our youths does not stop with the release of the Masterplan. We will continue to involve and collaborate with them to test and refine these Masterplan concept ideas throughout the year." 

Want to find out more about the Somerset Belt? Check out the link here! 

WRITTEN BY: LOW JIA YING AND JUSTIN HUI
BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: MCCY/NYC

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