Presenting #BUILD5G by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI)

GUI2015 represents a special year when Singapore celebrates its 50th year of independence with SG50 and a year when Singapore begins to transform itself to become a Smart Nation through #BUILDSG. This commemorative year, the Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) community seeks to celebrate the pioneering Kampung spirit of building, invention and craftsmanship that has made Singapore to what it is today.

Making has a deeper meaning than simply using your hands to produce something. In contrast to Singapore’s 5C definition of success like Cash, Credit Card, Condominium, Car and Clubs, Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) believes in building a new narrative for Singapore to be more Gracious, Green, Giving, Grounded and Grateful (5G) by building up the next generation. A Smart Nation is only as strong as the creative spirit and collective wisdom of its citizens. This year, at Maker Faire Singapore, the Kampung Builders have designed and curated 4 Experience Zones namely the Future of Agriculture, the Arts, Play and Sustainable Homes in search of building up not only the hardware and software, but the heartware underlying a Smart yet Wise Nation. 


Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) is a volunteer-driven non-profit community organisation that values connecting with the land for the many things it teaches us while cultivating a resilient and creative community with grounded leaders.

In April 2009, GUI moved to Bottle Tree Park in Yishun, Singapore where it has collectively raised and grown its base, the Sustainable Living Kampung, from a mere 100sqm of space to over 1500sqm. This has enabled GUI to nurture a 21st Century Kampung Culture that connects many people to GUI’s vision of a 5G society, one that is more Gracious, Green, Giving, Grounded and Grateful. Since November 2014, GUI expanded to 26000sqm to construct the Kampung Kampus, a Nature-inspired campus for holistic education through experiential learning that has a low carbon footprint, featuring tropical sustainable architecture, building methods and technologies.

Kampung Kampus is becoming a learning campus built by the community, for the community. Through working shoulder-to-shoulder and hand-in-hand as one, GUI hope to rekindle not only the Kampung Spirit, but also instil a sense of ownership, resilience and creativity. Kampung Kampus will be a space that everyone of us can take pride in and love this spirit.

Kampung Play, Architecture for Beautiful Communities

Cai Bingyu

Cai BingyuI love putting blocks together. One more here, you get a building, one more there and we have a city! The best part however, is teaching someone else how to do it. Because together, we can build the world.

What’s something interesting or memorable that you have made or built before?

Train stations, libraries & cities. All with just card-boards!

What will someone be experiencing with you at Maker Faire?

Cai Bingyu2Kampung Play: They will learn how to put simple shapes together to make a Kampung Game!

Architecture for Beautiful Communities: Learn how to put pieces of blocks and sponges together to create cities.

Why do you believe that it is important for someone to share that experience with you?

Doing the activities here not only creates opportunity for you to get your hands MAKING. It creates an avenue for people to connect!

What’s your favourite tool?

35 degree pen knife.

Wind Chimes, Straw Décor, Toilet Roll Art

 KIM (Right in Photo, with project which will be showcased)

KimKim Lee has been making stuff for as long as she can remember. She was fortunate to grow up in a pre-digital distraction age, in a house with garden space to play and experiment in and have a father who had a workbench and all kinds of tools.

What’s something interesting or memorable that you have made or built before?

I designed Faberge-style eggs that were featured in a Her World magazine workshop (and also sold a Faberge-styled goose egg for $450 some 20 years ago). I also used to build props and sets for TV commercials in the pre-CGI era.

What will someone be experiencing with you at Maker Faire?

Kim2I will not be at Maker Faire, but the activities I have initiated are building a wind chime or hanging mobile, creating a hanging screen with straws and small ornaments, and making toys out of cardboard rolls.


Why do you believe that it is important for someone to share that experience with you?

In all the activities, the purpose is an exploration of possibilities. Any of these activities helps us to see everyday things differently, to repurpose them, to expand our appreciation of beauty, to discover and exercise our creative streaks. Craftwork is also a subtle and friendly understanding of sciences like physics (balancing elements in wind chimes or mobiles, finding out what things make musical sounds when clinked together), and art (a fun exploration of colour, textures, strengths and possibilities of different materials and juxtaposing them in a way that is pleasing to the eye).

What’s your favourite tool?

My favourite tool is the tool that does the job well and safely. It really depends on the task at hand. Perhaps the best tools you can have are at the end of our arms — our hands. They are the original transformer tools. You can poke with them, pound with them, brush something away, scratch something with a fingernail, or pinch, pull, push, squeeze, test something for wetness/dryness, pressure, sense heat, etc, etc. And just about everyone has two of these amazing “tools”!


Evon Tay

Evon TayI love the feeling of making things with my own two hands. There is something about the feeling of tactility that you just can’t replicate with a computer. Even if the end product looks a little bit wonky, a little bit lopsided, it still contains a personal touch that makes it so special.

I guess everyone can appreciate a bit of beauty in imperfection, eh?

What’s something interesting or memorable that you have made or built before?

I once made a human-sized birdcage out of paper and styrofoam with my friends for an art project. It was meant to symbolise society being trapped in the cycle of consumerism, people only get excited about something when it is “cheap, cheap, cheap!” (haha, geddit?)

What will someone be experiencing with you at Maker Faire? (Activity Description)

Evon Tay2You will get a taste of how we make eco bricks at the Kampung Kampus, in cute miniature form! Have fun getting your hands dirty trying out pounding and sieving of soil, and mix different materials to press into our handmade mini brick moulds. At the end, you will get to bring home your very own mini-sized eco mud brick!

Why do you believe that it is important for someone to share that experience with you?

Through making low carbon footprint Mud Bricks out of “waste” Clay, one gets to understand how the life cycle of a building starts from the very materials it is made of. This brings awareness to how our built environments can be more sustainable and less destructive with a more conscious and responsible use of materials.

Through making the bricks together as a community, one also gets to be involved in the actual process of co-creating our built environment. Following Maker Faire, participants can also join in the making of full sized Mud-bricks for building Kampung Kampus… Connecting people to people, connecting people to Land!

What’s your favourite tool?

Masking tape

Yakult Orchestra

Joshua Mah

JoshuaMahCloser to a maker than a builder or a craftsperson. I enjoy developing new concepts and designing the mechanisms and controls involved but am a bit unpracticed in my craftsmanship.

However, I still believe a good foundation in all three aspects is important and am still working on improving them.

What’s something interesting or memorable that you have made or built before?

A rolling robot. It is probably one of the more complex mechanisms me and my group managed to produce due to its size and power restrictions. Building it required a wide range of skill sets such as developing mechanical joints, circuit design and to control analysis which reflects the need for a good foundation in all aspects and teamwork to get things completed. On top of that, I had enjoyed the experience working hard with excellent teammates mutually supported each other through this grueling process.

What will someone be experiencing with you at Maker Faire?

Past, present and future. Using technology to provide the backbone of the orchestra, old bottles and boxes of the past are renewed with a new cause to provide visual and audio entertainment to our audiences now.

Why do you believe that it is important for someone to share that experience with you?

To develop a broad mindset. One does not have to engage in complex and tedious inventions to be called a maker. A simple act of finding an interesting way to cast a light (in a yakult bottle for example) is just as important as the circuit powering it. The same can be said for solving problems. Reusing old materials does not discount the need for new technologies. I hope I can introduce this interesting culture of making what you do not have from what you do have and broke down the illusion that making is only for the technically proficient or the technologically savvy.

What’s your favourite tool?

The brain and a pencil… And lots of paper to go with them.

Paperclip Trinkets

Cynthia (Right in Photo) and Family

CynthiaMy focus as a maker is the value of things. Why buys things when I can make them myself?

Things that I made come with fond memories that no purchased items; regardless of how expensive it is, can provide me with.

What’s something interesting or memorable that you have made or built before?

The dismantling of an age old Queen-size mattress! My family of five embarked on this mammoth project together and we created a new bench with the wood frame and cushion; sold the metal parts for money and sew new pouches with the old cloth. Nothing was discarded at the end. Together, we not only created items but shared memories of my loving family of five.

What will someone be experiencing with you at Maker Faire?

Beauty need not come at a price. Can anyone relate a normal paper clip with an artistic piece of handmade jewellery? If you can’t, join me and discover it yourselves.

Why do you believe that it is important for someone to share that experience with you?

Beauty is from within and not from outside. If you feel good about an item that you’ve created, you’d feel proud and beauty would come along.

What’s your favourite tool?

Plier. It is inexpensive, durable and can serve many purposes. Just like a capable wife, every well-built family must have one to keep things together 🙂

Furniture Crafting


BenI’m Ben the Fun-maker.

‘Making’ is ‘playing’ to me. Recycled wood, broken vase, discarded wire and are toys that I play with. To me, another man’s thrash is my treasure. I don’t know how to play computer games but I do know how to make functional things that we can use to sit on, display their favourite items or play with. What makes me happy is when others are enjoying their time around me.

What’s something interesting or memorable that you have made or built before?

I had fun with most of the items that I made.

What will someone be experiencing with you at Maker Faire?

To play with me and let’s have fun together 🙂

Why do you believe that it is important for someone to share that experience with you?

To discover that making can be a fun activity as well.

What’s your favourite tool?

My hands. They can feel the life of things that I touched and through my hands, help other to see them as well.

Traditional + Vermi Composting/ Making of Liquid Fertiliser

Tang Hun Bun

Background info

Mr. Tang Hung Bun is passionate about growing food in a responsible and sustainable manner. From June 2013 to June 2015, he rented a plot of land in Lim Chu Kang area and grew crops for his family and friends in a farm. He even created a permaculture food forest where he practised permaculture techniques to grow a diversity of crops, from leafy vegetables to fruit trees. Sadly, in May 2015, his farm was taken back by the landlord for “development”.

In June 2015, Mr. Tang became a farmer in GUI where his continues his passion for organic and permaculture farming.

What will someone be experiencing with you at Maker Faire?

Composting! Mr. Tang strongly believes that healthy soil grows healthy plants. Healthy soil is alive with an incredibly diverse and complete soil food web, a community of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, micro-arthropods, earthworms, insects, etc. A good farmer should maintain the health of his soil by a range of techniques, including the use of compost.

Composting is nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. Anything that was once living will decompose. By composting your organic waste you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Finished compost looks like soil–dark brown, crumbly and smells like a forest floor.

Besides Composting, we will also be teaching on how to make Liquid Fertilisers. There are lots of good reasons to compost and making organic liquid fertilizer – saving money and resources, improving your soil and reducing your impact on the environment.

Adding compost to your garden will not only fertilize, it actually feeds your soil with a diversity of nutrients and microorganisms that will improve plant growth. Compost also increases soil stability, improves drainage and helps retain moisture.

Chemical fertilizers on the other hand provide a quick burst of a limited number of nutrients that can wash away into our rivers and streams. They also adversely affect the healthy balance of soil food web.

In our booths, visitors will experience how easy it is to make compost and organic liquid fertilizers.

[This post is contributed by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI). Thank you Ibnur and all the GUI makers!]



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