SINGAPORE — As part of a large-scale effort to shape and strengthen the identity of various public housing estates, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will be launching customised design guides for all 24 towns in Singapore, beginning with Woodlands.
Each design guide will cover areas such as the overall theme that an HDB town should adopt, down to detailed designs of individual projects within the estate.
The design guide for Woodlands was launched on Tuesday (Sept 4) by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who was giving an address to architects, builders and engineers at the annual HDB Professional Engagement And Knowledge-sharing (Peak) Forum.
Individual guides for the other 23 towns will be rolled out over the next five years. The HDB did not state which next precinct will have its own guide next.
Speaking at the Peak Forum, Mr Wong said the guide “should be seen as a guide … for all stakeholders”, and a “prescriptive document of dos and don’ts”.
He added: “It should be seen as a living document — continuously updated over time with new ideas, so that … we can all play a part in improving the design (and) quality of our HDB estates.”
The guide is issued to HDB’s business partners such as architectural consultants, builders and urban planners.
“The guide will help different teams of consultants, architects, contractors, and those in the town, to better understand its history, heritage … (and) character.” — National Development Minister Lawrence Wong
On Tuesday, Mr Wong, who is also Second Minister for Finance, reiterated that public housing in Singapore is not just about affordable housing, but that it is “a national institution that we have painstakingly built up over many decades”.
“You can find public housing anywhere in the world, but you will never find the same scale and quality of public housing outside of Singapore,” he added.
HOW THIS WILL IMPACT YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD:
While not compulsory or binding, the guidelines will help to steer future building works or “rejuvenation” programmes.
This means that amenities and architectural elements in your neighbourhood — such as playgrounds, void decks and even a building’s roof — will begin to reflect a theme that the area has been given.
For example, in Woodlands Central, the suggested colour palette for buildings is light grey, with contemporary accents of deeper greys and browns, in keeping with the urban theme.
In the community-themed Woodlands East, however, the suggested colours are bright, with earthy accents.
Woodlands — already part of the third phase of HDB’s Remaking Our Heartland programme to undergo renewal and more developments — was picked to be the first town to have its own guide, to show that the design guidelines can be applied to “a town undergoing rejuvenation”, the public housing authority said.
WHY IT MATTERS:
Having distinctive architectural features and a unique HDB town identity could help to forge community ties in housing estates. HDB’s chief Cheong Koon Hean said in an earlier lecture that building “identity” can help to better “root” residents to home and community.
“In HDB’s planning, we capitalise on ‘heritage and place character’ to safeguard social memories and to create a stronger sense of belonging,” Dr Cheong said.
The launch of the design guides is HDB’s boldest move to date to outline a town’s identity, in a bid to foster stronger community spirit.
It builds on past initiatives such as the idea of having thematic playgrounds, which pay homage to a neighbourhood’s heritage. In Chua Chu Kang, for example, children may play among structures resembling military tanks and watch towers, as the area once used to be a training ground for soldiers.
MORE ON THE GUIDE:
The town design guide will address three “layers”, namely town, neighbourhood and precinct.
At the town level, it will provide the overall theme, concept and vision of the estate.
At the neighbourhood level, it will set out the themes and concepts based on the heritage and character of each area.
At the precinct level, it will guide the detailed design of individual projects, aligned with the neighbourhood themes.