Vivocity is Singapore’s largest retailing and lifestyle destination, spanning over 12 hectares of shops and spaces for waterfront relaxation. Designed by renowned architect Toyo Ito, it was opened in 2006 and has received much popularity as the people’s favourite place to shop and relax. Situated in front of a water habour, Vivocity treats its customers with beautiful views of the sea and the evergreen island of Sentosa.
Purpose of case study
The main purpose of our case study is to evaluate if this new mall and its surroundings are as exciting a place for the disabled. We looked out mainly for wheelchair friendly facilities, the key to full enjoyment for the disabled.
On our way to Vivocity
Going there was a breeze. We took a train to Harbourfront station and identified that it would be difficult for the wheelchair bound to move in and out the train when the train or station is crowded. The other problem would be the lack of indicator lights to show on which side the train doors will open. Having such lights would help the wheelchair bound prepare to get off the train as they move into the desirable position for easy alighting. The next problem would be the gap between the train and platform.
The atriums of vivocity are very spacious and pleasant looking. A large common space would mean less obstruction for a wheelchair in crowds. Though the atriums were very spacious, walkways on from the second floor onwards were quite narrow and would definitely hinder the movement of a wheelchair in times of heavy traffic.
Doorways of shops are generally large enough for wheelchairs go get in but the walkways within shops are a problem. Some shops pack their things so close that it is almost impossible for the wheelchair bound to shop inside.
At the supermarket, as of all supermarkets, the shelves are way too high
for the wheelchair bound to reach. The highest most can reach is probably
half way up the shelves. Would lowering the shelves be cost effective
in the long run? Well, something has to give and it’s unfortunate that
it is the wheelchair bound who has to compromise.
To count the total number of handicap toilets in Vivocity, we referred to the main shopping directory at the middle atrium of the shopping centre. It was not long before we realized that the sky-facing street directory was way too high for a person on wheelchair to read. The ironic thing was that one of the main information presented on the directory was the locations of the wash areas and the accompanying handicap toilets.
Checking out the handicap toilets, the first problem we identified was the narrow walkway perpendicular to the door of the handicap toilet. It is so narrow that there would only be about 2 feet of space left when the door is fully extended, parallel to the walkway. Many people would not know that persons on wheelchair would face difficulties opening the door as there is not enough space behind for them to reverse. The problem is not as bad if they use a powered wheelchair. For those on a manual wheelchair, they have to negotiate the auto shut door with one hand and reverse the wheelchair with the other, in a confined space. Just imagine going through all these hassle when you’re urgently holding back your need to relieve yourself.
That’s not all; many of the handicap toilets that we have viewed were not clean. Usually there would be some liquid on the toilet bowl, with no disposable hygiene seat covers in sight.
During the entire survey of handicap toilets, we encountered 4 locked doors. They were most probably able-bodied persons as we did not see any wheelchair bound emerge from the toilet walkways before the handicap toilet was unlocked. Besides being unclean, we found one toilet that was in a terrible state. The joint of the arm that automatically retracts the door was broken and half the mounting plate of the side support was yanked off from the wall, together with the screws! Furthermore, the floors were considerably wet and slippery, posing yet another potential danger for the disabled people using this toilet.