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SDC- Sentosa Development Corporation

Transforming Public Beaches

Reimagining Beach Experiences During a Pandemic

Posted on 28th January 2022


Posted on 28th January 2022


Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) embarked upon a programme with School of X in March 2021 to support their staff in creatively exploring options that could improve guest beach experiences whilst simultaneously grappling with safe management challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.


During the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singaporeans were seeking sanctuary in the country’s public spaces, including the golden beaches of Sentosa. However, in order to ensure safe management of these public environments, strict controls were put in place. It became increasingly difficult to create relaxing beach escape experiences, whilst enforcing such restrictions on public movement.

30 participants, comprising staff from across the SDC’s organisation as well as representatives from Island Partner organisations, came together to reimagine possibilities for solving this challenge, co-designing new beach experiences using the School of X human-centred design approach.


Through field-based research, comprising observations and shadowing as well as guest and staff interviews, the teams were able to create rich insights into the areas of focus for problem solving. Participants experienced beach visitor perspectives by walking in their shoes, getting sand between their toes, and understanding the delights and the frustrations associated with beach visits. This provided rich inspiration for the idea generation phase that followed.


Pushing participants to design services based on what guests would love to experience, rather than designing pragmatic solutions to problems, required them to flip their usual approach to design. Idea generation activities focused on continuously pushing deeper thinking into the root causes of the issues to be tackled, and moving away from a pragmatic problem solving lens into a creative one. Indulging in divergent thinking can be difficult for very efficient operations staff, yet the results allow fresh and highly actionable concepts to be created.

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The programme comprised three full-day workshop sessions and a three-week pilot implementation project that allowed ideas to be tested and improved in the real world. Research and design work was undertaken during and between workshop sessions, and subsequently put into practice during the pilot project. At the end of the programme, participants pitched their solutions to SDC and Island Partner senior management teams, with recommendations on next steps. The ideas are now being further developed for implementation.