The RSA Student Design Awards is a competition for emerging designers that’s been running since 1924. The competition challenges students and recent graduates to tackle pressing social, environmental and economic issues through design thinking. 
won the CIM Award at RSA Student Design Awards 2020
teamed with Alina Toh &  Johyun Moon  

COHO was designed as a response to alleviate the economic insecurity of single parents in Singapore. Through research and speaking to various stakeholders, we identified the unequal access to public housing as a major stressor that exacerbates any existing economic issues that single-parents face.

‘COHO’ is a two-year transitional housing service and community that provides low-income single parent households with stable and comfortable housing at an affordable rate alongside provision of educational resources and support in order to lead them towards self-reliance.

In Singapore, single-parent households are not recognised as a family nucleus by the Housing and Development Board, leaving them without equal access to safe and stable public housing. Without this, many parents find themselves caught in insecure housing and economic situations.

From our research, childcare, employment and housing are major stressors for single parents. Among these, quality and accessible housing were identified as fundamental human rights that will allow single-parents to work towards greater independence and improve their quality of life. Therefore, our solution focuses on this issue.

“I remember HDB said that on an exceptional basis, on a good will gesture, we’ll give you a house. That got me upset because she is Singaporean – she should be given a house. Why do we have to say on compassionate grounds, on goodwill, to make the person feel so bad about herself?!”

Mr Louis Ng recounting a single mother’s experience applying for a rental home with HDB.

Building Layout

This diagram illustrates the layout of the first three stories of the building and how the user personas, David and Julia interact with the spaces throughout the day. The building is divided into two – the right side representing night and the left side representing the day.

How it Works 
Unlike conventional means testing, this application process takes a more qualitative approach that aims to understand the unique challenges of each family instead of depending on income caps and quantitative values. The programme also includes an educational portion that aims to empower them with practical skills through a variety of financial literacy and effective parenting workshops that they can customise according to their needs.