Designing for Life
Imagine being able to control lights and home appliances in your flat with a simple tap or swipe from your smartphone. Or having a sprawling sports park at the roof of your estate’s multi-storey car park, where you can enjoy a wide range of outdoor exercise facilities and circuit training opportunities. How about spending a fulfilling day with your family at the neighbourhood Social and Wellness Hub, with a myriad of shops and eateries offering healthy options, as well as facilities for you to exercise and relax amid lush greenery?
This vision is set to soon become a reality – in writing the next chapter of public housing, HDB has unveiled a new blueprint that will inspire and guide bold ideas in planning, design, policies and programmes over the decade. The new Designing for Life roadmap takes a more resident-centred approach and marks a shift in focus towards holistic well-being.
HDB has always strived to be anticipatory in its plans to create better homes for Singaporeans. In 2011, it launched the ‘Roadmap for Better Living in HDB Towns’ which focused on developing well-designed, sustainable and community-centric towns. Since then, HDB has stepped up efforts to deliver a quality environment beyond the four walls of the flat. In both mature and non-mature estates, sleek new-generation housing projects have been designed with sustainability in mind, supported by a variety of green spaces and communal facilities for all to enjoy.
Designing the best possible homes for Singaporeans is an ongoing, iterative process. As society evolves and new challenges emerge, the roadmap has been refreshed to keep pace with new needs. Launched in October 2020, the new ‘Designing for Life’ roadmap will centre on the overall health and well-being of residents, to provide them with a better living environment at all stages of their lives.
“Through careful planning backed by science and data, we will advance the sustainability of our towns, and leverage technology to help residents live more comfortably, with greater convenience,” says HDB Chief Executive Officer, Dr Cheong Koon Hean. “We will also find more ways for people to connect with each other and empower them to play a bigger role in designing and activating their shared spaces.”
The roadmap will be supported by 3 pillars that can help Singaporeans ‘Live Well’, ‘Live Smart’, and ‘Live Connected’.
HDB’s ‘Designing for Life’ roadmap is supported by three key pillars – Live Well, Live Smart, Live Connected – under which efforts will encompass a broad spectrum of initiatives
The ‘Live Well’ thrust aims to holistically enhance residents’ physical, mental, and social well-being through the built environment, and create healthy towns for all ages. Ongoing and new initiatives to bring nature closer to residents, improve safety in the home and outdoors, and renew towns through upgrading programmes will be scaled up. “In shaping the new generation of public housing, good design is the key to creating functional, efficient, and quality developments in sustainable and comfortable living environments,” says HDB Chief Executive Officer, Dr Cheong Koon Hean.
In addition, HDB will implement evidence-based solutions such as incorporating easy-to-understand pictograms in directional signage to aid wayfinding, and designing attractive pathways and stairways to encourage an active lifestyle. These will be introduced in new public housing developments and existing HDB homes through upgrading programmes.
Within the precinct, residents can relax in tranquil pocket gardens and courtyards, and reconnect with nature through biophilic design that harnesses nature’s intrinsic benefits. There will also be opportunities for horticultural activities in spaces like the Plantation Farmway in Tengah, as these can enhance mental well-being and promote social ties among neighbours.
HDB will place greater emphasis on the planning and design of the physical environment to encourage residents, especially seniors, to lead active lifestyles
As residents of Punggol, HDB’s first Eco-town developed to achieve a more green and sustainable living for its residents, Tan Siew Geok and Julie Poh know all too well about the benefits that living so close to nature can bring. These two active seniors often spend their time outdoors in their neighbourhood, whether it is out for a relaxing stroll or to exercise amid the lush greenery.
“The weather is hot and humid, but the greenery here keeps us cool. I also like that we have all these exercise facilities right at our doorstop. It makes it more convenient for us to take a quick stretch,” says Julie.
At town level, new HDB neighbourhood centres will be conceptualised as Social and Wellness Hubs. Aside from their traditional commercial function, these enhanced facilities will offer a wider variety of wellness choices to encourage community interaction and the adoption of an active and healthy lifestyle, including healthy food options, communal spaces for socialisation, and exercise areas.
Facilities such as Social and Wellness Hubs will be planned and designed to integrate elements of well-being and foster cohesive communities
As Singapore’s largest developer, HDB plays a leading role in driving sustainable development and adoption of smart technologies in the built environment sector, in line with Singapore’s vision of a Smart Nation. New precincts in Punggol Northshore will be the first housing projects developed with urban solutions and smart technologies from the outset to bring about greater comfort and convenience for residents, both in their estates and homes.
Residents stand to benefit from seamless and reliable estate services, with initiatives such as the Smart Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System, which automates waste collection and allows for remote monitoring of waste thresholds, and a network of sensors that will monitor and inform when estate maintenance is required.
New residents of Punggol Northshore, Daniel Chin and Quek Mang Ling, were especially excited to learn that their home will be smart-enabled – their flat is fitted with smart sockets and a smart distribution board to support smart home solutions. “We started shopping for appliances months before we collected the keys to our flat!” Mang Ling laughs.
“I enjoy the convenience of smart homes. For example, I’m able to pre-schedule cleaning sessions with the automated vacuum cleaner, while the digital door locks allow me to unlock them regardless of my location and without fussing with the keys. I think homes equipped with the infrastructure to support smart features will bring greater convenience for residents in the future,” Daniel adds.
Punggol Northshore residents Daniel and Mang Ling enjoy the convenience of a smart-enabled home
To mitigate the impact of climate change, HDB is committed to making its towns more environmentally sustainable and liveable by 2030 through the HDB Green Towns Programme. The 10-year plan aims to reduce energy consumption, recycle rainwater, and cool HDB towns, by scaling up successful pilots and trialling new solutions such as the Urban Water Harvesting System and cool coatings on building facades and pavements to reduce surface heat absorption.
HDB is also leading the push towards cleaner energy in Singapore and about 70% of HDB blocks will be fitted with, or identified for solar installation by 2030. A solar-ready roof design has been implemented since 2017 to prepare new blocks for easier and faster solar adoption.
The HDB Green Towns Programme will focus on three areas: reducing energy consumption, recycling rainwater, and cooling HDB towns, making all HDB towns more sustainable and liveable
Nurturing the kampung spirit in a digitally driven world may seem like an uphill task, but it can be possible with the help of smart apps and data. Through collaborations and research partnerships with government agencies and Institutes of Higher Learning, HDB will use data analytics and behavioural studies to gain insights that can aid the design of targeted initiatives and help foster cohesive communities.
For example, the New Urban Kampung Research Programme aims to better understand residents’ behaviour and needs, measure their quality of life, and uncover factors that contribute to their satisfaction in HDB towns. The cross-disciplinary study will help develop strategies and tools for residents to connect with like-minded neighbours and organise group activities on their own. This is part of HDB’s efforts to ramp up opportunities for the community to co-design proposals and activate spaces, as part of the nationwide SG Together movement.
HDB will provide more place-making opportunities for the community, to nurture the kampung spirit and foster cohesive communities
For residents of Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Merah, Choa Chu Kang and Queenstown, there will be even more opportunities for the community to make places and memories together. These towns have been identified as the fourth batch of towns to be rejuvenated under the Remaking Our Heartland programme. In rejuvenating the towns, HDB will be engaging the residents to hear their views and help shape the plans. From next year, HDB will also work with other agencies to set aside common spaces at selected new housing projects, for residents to collectively design and build their neighbourhood spaces.
The ‘Designing for Life’ roadmap and its three pillars will be brought to life at the upcoming BTO development, Parc Residences @ Tengah. Tengah is the first HDB town to be sensitively integrated with its surrounding ecosystems and planned with smart technologies town-wide from the outset, setting the perfect stage for the roadmap’s features and initiatives to come together.
Future Parc Residences @ Tengah residents Jonathan Tan and Rae Ann are looking forward to when they move in to this evergreen forest town. “We were convinced that with the promising plans to develop this area – such as homes that are smart-enabled and close to nature, a well-planned town centre, an integrated community hub, and various other amenities – this new town will be a great place to build our future together,” they say.
The ‘Designing for Life’ roadmap will come to life at Parc Residences @ Tengah
To learn more about the new roadmap and its three pillars – Live Well, Live Smart, Live Connected – visit the Designing for Life Virtual Exhibition.
All perspectives used in this article are artists' impressions only; actual developments may differ.