Opening Remarks by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at Iloomination Awards Ceremony on 10 September 2021
A very good morning and warm welcome to the attendees and participants here at the MSE Hall, as well as the guests viewing the livestream of this event on Zoom.
The New Normal of Heightened Hygiene
2 The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for all of us to maintain high standards of public hygiene and cleanliness to curb the spread of diseases and further reduce public health threats. To address this, we launched the SG Clean Movement last year to rally everyone to do their part to practise good personal hygiene.From mask-wearing to frequent handwashing, we have had to adapt to new habits and social practices to keep our community safe, especially in our public spaces.
3 Public toilets are no different. Good toilet hygiene is even more critical than ever. We all have our own memories of less than welcoming public toilets. Since 2018, NEA has run the Public Toilet Cleanliness Initiative to encourage users to practise good toilet habits and keep our public toilets clean and hygienic. This can be done through four easy actions: (1) Flush after use; (2) Keep the floor dry; (3) Keep toilet seats clean, and (4) Bin litter into litter bins.
4 Nonetheless, the cleanliness and hygiene standards of our public toilets can be further improved. While the 2021 Public Cleanliness Satisfaction Survey (PCSS) found that most people were satisfied with the cleanliness of public toilets in various establishments, a lower proportion was satisfied with the cleanliness of public toilets in coffeeshops and hawker centres. The three most common complaints with public toilets were: (1) dirty or stained toilet seats or urinals; (2) wet or stained floors; and (3) bad smell or odour. I believe we all want cleaner public toilets, and this need not be just a pipe dream. Design and infrastructure can help facilitate the cleanliness of toilets in terms of ease of cleaning and influencing user behaviour. But more importantly, each of us must be socially responsible in keeping our public spaces and toilets clean.
The Inspiration Behind Iloomination
5 Today, we gather here for the finals of NEA's ILOOMINATION challenge. This is a design challenge to reimagine Singapore's public toilets, drawing from the energies of young designers. You may be wondering how this idea come about.
6 In 2020, Japan launched the "Tokyo Toilet Project1" to replace 17 public toilets in Shibuya, and called upon 16 designers for the task. One of the toilet facilities designed by architect Shigeru Ban featured tinted glass walls that become opaque when occupied. The transparent walls reassure users that the toilets are clean and safe before they enter. This example highlighted two things: (i) the contribution of innovative toilet design in addressing prevailing problems; and (ii) that good design can nudge user behaviour towards clean toilet outcomes.
Co-creating Solutions for the Community
7 In March this year, NEA launched ILOOMINATION. A total of 50 entries were received, a very encouraging response. This is a good indication that our youth continue to be interested in issues that affect our community and want to make positive changes. Through this design competition, we hope to nurture our talented young designers and provide them an opportunity to showcase their creative solutions in an area that is relevant to all Singaporeans.
8 Teams of students from five Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) pitched their designs to NEA's panel of judges. The top three teams had the opportunity to participate in a special mentorship session with the three judges, where they received invaluable advice on how to improve their designs. Today marks the culmination of their long journey.
9 Let me conclude. All of us have a part to play if we want to create the environment we want. I am encouraged by our youths who have been willing to think out of the box to co-create solutions that solve real-world problems and help to create sustainable and concrete changes in our community.
10 Thank you to all the students who put in effort to come up with meaningful design proposals. And to our final three teams, I hope that you have found this journey fulfilling and enriching. Thank you for your hard work, and I wish you all the best for your presentations later. I look forward to seeing your designs come to life.
2 In the 2021 wave, respondents were asked about their satisfaction of the cleanliness of toilets in various establishments. Overall, 81.6% of Singaporeans reported feeling satisfied or very satisfied with public toilets in various establishments. The greatest majority (96%) reported that they were satisfied with the cleanliness of public toilets in shopping malls. On the other hand, the lowest proportion of respondents were satisfied with the cleanliness of public toilets in coffeeshops (61%) and hawker centres (68%), where younger respondents aged 21-34 years old were more likely to indicate dissatisfaction.