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Dwellings chronicles our efforts in creating homes for Singaporeans. We strive to reinvent and transform Singapore’s housing landscape, developing homes that Singaporeans would be proud to live in. Through Dwellings, share how we create public housing that is uniquely Singapore.

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Dwellings 2018/2 Cover

Dreaming Big

HDB’s mission of creating vibrant and sustainable towns has led us to continuously explore new frontiers in the design of public housing, including the adoption of sustainability initiatives such as the generation of solar energy, and the infusion of nature in our estates.

Small in scale but big in ambition is Kampung Admiralty. With a vision to design and build a development that meets the holistic needs of seniors, the kampung of the old was reimagined, and a modern day kampung built. The seamless integration of senior-proof homes with an extensive range of facilities and amenities will enable Singaporeans to age-in-place, and live life to the full in their silver years.

HDB’s green journey started with tree planting for natural shade, and progressed to well-designed urban greenery that fosters a town’s character and identity. Today, under the Biophilic Town Framework, a strong foundation for holistic planning and design of neighbourhood landscapes has been established to create ecosystems in HDB estates that will benefit both the residents and the environment.

10 years ago, the non-existence of a solar industry did not stop HDB from thinking big, and test-bedding the installation of solar panels on the roof tops of HDB blocks. The spirit of innovation continues to this day with HDB embarking on Singapore’s first experiment in the development of a floating solar system for open sea conditions, based on HDB’s award-winning floating modular system.

All of us can do our part for sustainable living – it can be as simple as reducing wastage in our lives. At Repair Kopitiam, broken items are given a second lease of life by their owners who are taught simple repair skills by a group of volunteers. Every repair is a small but important step in our collective journey towards a more sustainable Singapore.

Dwellings 2/2018 Chapters

Past issues

Check out the previous issues of Dwellings:

In 2018

Dwellings Issue 1/2018

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New But Old

A new year signals new beginnings. Yet, there is something to be said for learning from traditions. Imparting important lessons and experiences, they can bridge divides and even inspire inventive transformations.

In this 2018 kick-off issue, Dwellings catches up with Senior Advisor, Mr Yap Chin Beng, to share his nuggets of wisdom culled from his long and distinguished career in HDB, so that younger colleagues can benefit from them.

In the physical upgrades of HDB’s retail scene, the time-tested business concept remains as relevant – that of heartfelt service and relationships that go beyond commercial transactions. This is where glitzy malls and chains may find themselves up against modernised mom-and-pop shops that know their customers from knee-high.

And who would have thought that one of nature’s oldest engineering designs inspired one of HDB’s innovative eco ideas? The floating wetland, the lush swathes of green life floating down scenic Punggol Waterway, took reference from the interlocking, latticed cells of the humble honeycomb.

In a different town, an extraordinary cookbook has been weaving neighbours of an HDB block together with more than a delicious waft and whiff. Joanne Lye started out with a simple mission to record her grandparents’ recipes for posterity. The idea grew into a bonding activity and a cookbook of treasured recipes contributed by an entire block of impassioned neighbours. Even in food, but especially in food, time-tested ways seldom go wrong.

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In 2017

Dwellings Issue 3/2017

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The Future of Home

In this issue, we round up the new research partnerships that HDB has forged to prepare itself for the future. The research areas span numerous disciplines, but together, their insights would help shed clearer light on how to better plan, design, and build the Smart homes and towns of the future.

In this future, digital technologies will play a key role in enabling the creation of better living spaces that are highly attuned to the changing needs of their inhabitants. They will also help citizens and residents forge new ways of bonding as they discover common grounds and interests through greater engagement, renewing the ‘kampung’ spirit of old.

While the promised benefits may sound utopian, many have already arrived at our doorstep. HDB has embraced innovative ideas as part of its commitment to build better living environments. This year’s International Housing Forum, in place of HDB’s annual Professional Engagement and Knowledge-sharing (PEAK) Forum, makes for an opportune platform to jumpstart the exchange of ideas towards creating resilient, inclusive cities through Smart and sustainable development.

While the exciting future of homes draws in closer to us, the charming, well-loved old towns are given new life in big and small ways. We revisit Queenstown to see how its beautiful ‘Housing in the Park’ concept has taken shape amid distinctive housing projects. HDB dwellers like Shereen and Shermaine Ng, have also taken up the task to rekindle the kampung spirit in the heartlands by sweating it out. Through fun workout sessions, they have inspired heartlanders to help one another embrace an active lifestyle and be better prepared for the future.

Dwellings Issue 2/2017

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One Wall At A Time

In the environment beyond home are spaces where lives meet. In HDB estates, planned and designed for nurturing communities, and aided by efforts that facilitate community bonding, neighbourliness reigns.

In innovating and refining, HDB works closely with residents in drawing up the new plans to renew beloved neighbourhoods under the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme. The innate charms of Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Pasir Ris, the latest ROH towns, will be thus enriched with ideas from the ground. Revisiting Punggol Town, and rediscovering the new additions that were introduced as part of the first ROH programme, provide affirmative testament.

HDB has developed construction techniques with similar resoluteness, and leveraged cutting-edge methods to improve productivity and develop building and engineering capabilities. As Singapore’s largest housing developer, HDB’s central role in spearheading technological advancements have translated into cost, quality, and time advantages that benefit home buyers.

Beyond the larger plans to build better towns, the seemingly smaller efforts to improve can bring about meaningful surprises to the heartland. Through the brushstrokes of artists and HDB dwellers like Belinda Low, the commonplace void decks of HDB blocks are turning into special places for all. She shares with us her dream to someday fill her town with picturesque landscapes, one wall at a time.

And so it is with improving HDB homes and towns.

Dwellings Issue 1/2017

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Bridges to Greater Heights

The road to the future is paved with both opportunities and challenges. Steering HDB through is Chief Executive Officer Dr Cheong Koon Hean. Under her leadership, HDB’s pursuit of liveable homes and smart and sustainable towns has evolved along innovative paths, bringing awards and recognition from peers and professional bodies locally and internationally. In 2016 Dr Cheong became the first person in the world to receive 2 prestigious prizes in the same year – the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development prize, and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) 2016 Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award.

As we take a look at how neighbourhoods and precincts are being transformed afresh, we also reflect on how these have impacted the lives of residents and the towns themselves. Bringing not just the newness of novelty, the changes have actively sought to retain and build upon the spirit of community and tradition. With the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme, residents involved have been rehomed in new flats with old ties and friendships kept intact and their concerns assuaged. In the influx of new joints and hipster cafés, the heartland is stirred anew. Thriving alongside the humble ‘kopitiams’, or coffee shops, they have enriched both the local food fare and the time-honoured local coffee lexicon.

With the rejuvenation and new energy injected in the heartland, Singaporeans have also started to embrace the unique character and heritage of HDB towns and estates. Artist and HDB dweller Ernest Goh could not agree more. He shares with us his fondness for the ordinary sights and sounds that are authentically from the heartland, which have inspired some of his works. One of which is a community mosaic art wall which will soon grace the Kampung Admiralty project. As HDB bridges to greater heights, the community spirit endures in the heartbeat of its work.

In 2016

Dwellings Issue 1/2016

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Future Forward

The future is something that HDB actively plans for today. With an ageing Singapore population looming ahead, elder-focused initiatives form an important part of our larger planning provision. In this issue, we share the suite of silver programmes and policies designed to better serve our elderly households. In focus is the use of smart technologies to create a safer home environment for our elderly and ease the worry for their family and carers.

Technology is also helping us fulfil the full spectrum of business and customer needs that are increasingly performed online. Placing our customers in the heart of the experience, the rejuvenation of the HDB InfoWEB marks the website’s biggest transformation yet.

In similar ways, our HDB towns and homes are embracing smart planning tools and technology and green and sustainable design principles – winning us a suite of accolades in 2015 for our forward-future approach to a fresher take on public housing.

The HDB blocks of an earlier age may seem plain on the outside, but they are homes to special moments that are lost in a simpler time. HDB dweller Mrs Lim Siew Yong recounts life in her ‘little heaven’ at Commonwealth Close, filled with blissful memories and a community that will forever be close to her heart.

Dwellings Issue 2/2016

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Compelling Connections

In countering the ‘facelessness’ of technology and urbanisation, HDB is ensuring a human-centric approach in its work – be it in designing programmes, building spaces for work, living and play, or making the heartland more vibrant.

The HDB Hub Atrium marks the start of many Singaporeans’ momentous journey towards owning their first home. When it came time for a revamp, the Atrium was re-designed to uplift the entire service experience and ambience. While cherished visuals from the heartland remind of home and the design motifs revisit HDB’s housing mission, the revamp went over and beyond, stepping into the customers’ shoes to understand how they could be best served.

The new HDB town plazas are also being re-imagined afresh as venues to bring new life and vitality to community spaces through active attachments to the place. The first of its kind, Bedok Town Square, is being brought to life collectively with Bedok residents through placemaking, an approach HDB has adopted to foster strong community bonds.

Beyond its core work of building homes for the people, HDB is also an industrial landlord to small and medium enterprises. We step into the journey of 2 businesses that have been HDB’s tenants for decades, and delve into how HDB works towards meeting the tenants’ requirements when relocating them to new high-rise complexes.

Finally, we have HDB dweller Bob Lee sharing his ‘Memory Blocks’, an on-going photography project capturing the living rooms of HDB flats. Spellbound by his own curiosity, Bob’s photographs show how HDB homes capture special, unique moments in their own way, with rich stories waiting to be told – proving once again, that even in the ‘facelessness’ of mundane, ordinary living, we all share a common, compelling connection.


Dwellings Issue 3/2016

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HDB has made some bold strides in trialling and implementing new ideas to conserve and create a better living environment for everyone. It has won us awards for inventive and workable approaches and raised Singapore’s international standing as a green player.

Ever resolved to be the forerunner, HDB has planned for more, and bigger things. In Tengah, the new Forest Town that will be developed, HDB’s planners will safeguard a large strip of forest land and make it the town’s centrepiece of green living. The town is the first of its kind to preserve, and be fully integrated with its natural surroundings.

Tengah Town will also be resolutely community-centric. The challenge to build a better future for the heartlands must also embrace its people for greater ownership of change – at the heart of which lies individual acts and action. This is where HDB dwellers can take inspiration from Jenny, featured in this issue, who dispenses warmth, hope and cheer along with the cold treats she sells from her canopied pushcart in Teck Whye Estate. The centrepiece of green living in HDB towns must also be its heartbeat.


In 2015

Dwellings Issue 1/2015

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A Concerto of Change

In the trill of birdsong, a resident finds his joy and passion. In the drumbeat of change, Bedok Town is enjoying a makeover. And in the silent workings within the heart of HDB, dedicated teams ensure systems, software and services hum along smoothly.

In building homes for a nation, HDB has created a concerto of change; one that continually improves and betters itself. In our towns, both new and developing, as well as older, mature ones, the changes are redefining the landscape and infusing them with new vitality.  We share with you how these are helping to enhance the East Coast area under the Remaking Our Heartlands initiative.  

HDB flats are also constantly evolving along, and one can no longer equate homogenous and bland high-rise living with HDB homes. Bolder, more distinctive designs and creative interiors are the new hallmarks now, merging functionality with finer aesthetics. In tracing the evolution of flat design, one constant is apparent – the changes have all centred around fulfilling the needs of the family and different household formations.

Playing a key role in supporting and enabling these myriad of changes is HDB’s Information Services Group. Get exclusive glimpses ‘behind the screens’ as we show you how its monitoring and planning systems and teams of professionals ensure timely, quality and secure deliveries and services.

Even as the wheels of change drive us forward, there is always time for pause. Birdcage maker and bird lover, Suhaidi Ahmad knows this full well. Once busy raising a family, this retired grandfather has rediscovered the magic of his first love pursuing a craft and hobby that has re-connected him back to his HDB neighbourhood and the larger community.

HDB’s housing journey is more than just providing homes for Singaporeans. Beyond their practical purpose, these homes are the stage and backdrop for living fulfilling lives.

Dwellings Issue 2/2015

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Hello Neighbour!

‘Hello Neighbour’ is an internet meme of this digital age. It is a shorthand primer for everything associated with community building, and also a popular trademark adopted by communities the world over, for neighbourly initiatives.  One example close to home is HDB’s ‘Hello Neighbour@Tampines’, a neighbourhood collaboration using Wi-Fi enabled workspaces and themed social settings. It is one of many ground programmes that have sprouted of late, augmenting the physical hardware of HDB towns.

At the planning level, the concept of HDB towns as homes has always centred on the idea of fostering communities. Facilities and amenities are well distributed and accessible by residents, and therefore well used as interaction points. These integrations have helped deepen residents’ sense of place and belonging, as well as nurtured active and caring communities.

This year’s Professional Engagement and Knowledge-sharing (PEAK) Forum 2015 focuses on community, the third thrust of HDB’s Roadmap to Better Living. It looks at how the physical environment can further serve as the facilitative bridge connecting people and creating communities. Guest speaker Bob Perry sheds more light and insights in this area. He sees the design of places, and even the digital spaces, that foster civic pride and place attachment as integral to the growth of culturally rich cities so that public places become vibrant extensions of the total living experience.

And these vibrant, thriving spaces come in many forms. It may be the exciting virtual worlds that allow easy sharing of work and ideas or the actual physical ecosphere of facilities and spaces to be found in one’s own backyard. In this issue, Dwellings rounds them up – from the blueprint of collaborative efforts that go into the design of community-centric towns among partners and professionals as well as residents, to the technological tools and systems that HDB employs to enhance productivity and performance. The individual and community assimilations that grow out of these have found more meaningful expressions than ever before.

In 2014

Dwellings Issue 1/2014

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Landscaping Lives

Beneath the façade of routine orderliness in high-rise living runs a rich vein of creative, pulsating life where HDB residents pursue dreams and passions that rise above the ordinary.

In this issue, we lead you down the garden path, where landscaping evolved to its present-day role as designer of active community living with its carefully planted gardens, pergolas and playgrounds.

Additionally, helping older HDB towns turn a brighter shade of green are initiatives to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices at the individual, household and community levels. HDB also adopted prefabrication technology to improve the quality of homes and boost productivity.

The ultimate beneficiary of all our efforts is the HDB dweller, and starting with this issue, we plan to introduce them to you through our new section – ‘Meet the Dwellers’, which uncovers people and places with stories to tell.

Dwellings Issue 2/2014

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Transforming Towns

Like everything else, the march of change has seen public housing in Singapore evolving to keep in step with the needs of its public and advancements in technology.

In this issue, we see how HDB transforms its towns with the various upgrading programmes put in place to rejuvenate older and ageing towns, and have continual estate makeovers for a fresh uplift to provide residents with a quality living environment.

As we stand on the cusp of the next chapter of our town transformation, we also look forward to creating smart ones of the future, driven by HDB’s own Smart Town Framework. Nonetheless, we have much to learn from experts such as Mr Vicente Guallart, Chief Architect of Barcelona City Council, who shares with us his vision of the Smart City in a feature interview.

The ultimate beneficiary of all our efforts is the HDB dweller, and in this issue, we introduce to you Matthew Fam – a keen hobbyist of Lego architecture who has built a striking replica of The Pinnacle@Duxton.

In 2013

Dwellings Issue 1/2013

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Partnerships In Bloom

In the ‘Roadmap for Better Living in HDB Towns’ to create well-designed, sustainable, and community-centric towns, the involvement of key parties such as residents, industry, and community partners represents a strategic factor in the realisation of our plans.

In this issue, we examine how niche community gardens are helping to nurture stronger ties among residents, and survey the awards and acknowledgements that spur HDB’s industry partners to deliver excellence as they strive alongside HDB’s stable of professional and dedicated staff.

The planning and professionalism and care that goes into the making of a vibrant HDB town – from the physical construction and design of the blocks and precincts, to how residents interact in the social and community spheres – are ongoing, evolving efforts.

Looking at these various flourishing initiatives, the partnerships that have sprung up promise a rosier outlook for public housing in Singapore. 

Dwellings Issue 2/2013

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Planning Liveable Towns

HDB towns are vibrant and bustling microcosms of Singapore that spell home for more than 80 percent of the resident population. But now, exciting new plans are astir to lift them to greater heights.

The development proposals unveiled for three new housing areas – Bidadari, Tampines North, and Punggol Matilda – exemplify the ideals of HDB’s housing roadmap to create well-designed, sustainable, and community-centric towns.

Behind the creative planning strategies and efforts are dedicated teams of planners and professionals working in concert. Lending their respective expertise, they have not only helped carve out the townscapes today, but are also moulding that of tomorrow’s.

From town planning to construction of flats and strengthening of community bonds, many hands are involved in making HDB towns the best homes. With each new town, HDB aims to raise the benchmarks for quality and harmonious living.

In 2012

Dwellings Issue 1/2012

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In this inaugural issue of Dwellings we take pride in sharing with our readers the exciting plans that will take Singapore’s public housing into a new era - one that defines sustainable living at its best.

Having housed more than 80 percent of the population in homes that are second to none in quality and living standards, we aspire to do more in the years ahead. Encapsulating this dream in a nutshell is a framework that will transport us there. ‘The Roadmap for Better Living in HDB Towns’ lays out three strategic thrusts and paths for HDB to achieve its goals of creating well-designed,, sustainable, and community-centric towns.



What is Dwellings?

Dwellings is a publication by the Housing & Development Board, Singapore’s public housing authority. Through Dwellings, we want to share how we create quality and affordable public housing that is uniquely different, and also uniquely Singapore’s.

Can I share the content (article/ photos) from Dwellings on my personal blog?

You can share the link to Dwellings on your personal blog or social media pages. For reproduction in print media, social media and for any other purposes, please contact us at dwellings@mailbox.hdb.gov.sg.

How can I subscribe to Dwellings?

You can subscribe to Dwellings via the HDB eAlert service (under Section D: Publications)

If you would like to receive a print issue, please email us at dwellings@mailbox.hdb.gov.sg.

How can I get involved with Dwellings?

Dwellings is a platform for sharing of ideas, works and projects that promote and advance quality and sustainable housing. We welcome contributions from all who share a keen interest in housing and habitats, whether you are an academic, industry practitioner or professional.

If you would like to contribute an article, do email your article or the synopsis to the editorial team at dwellings@mailbox.hdb.gov.sg and we will get in touch with you.