Social Housing in Singapore

Social housing in United States has been recognized as poorly designed and constructed low-income shelters. However, the concept of public housing in Singapore is another story. About 85 percent of Singapore population live in social housing developed by HDB (Housing and Development Board). They are not considered as a sign of poverty, but rather as a resource for citizens of all income ranges. These complexes are often facilitated by comprehensive public facilities such as schools, clinics, cafeterias, recreational facilities and supermarkets.

Led by professor Mazereeuw and Andres Sevtsuk, our studio went to visit several social housing projects in Singapore. The photos below are the present of Redhill, one of the earliest social housing constructed in 1960s. The complex is composed by mixed-use programs on the first three floors, a roof-garden with recreational facilities on the rooftop of podium, and apartments above. Since the mixed-use programs are situated in a rather open-air structure, the space becomes very vibrant with a dynamic pedestrian flow of locals and non-locals across the building. The lack of escalator provides the opportunities for a wide range of facilities to be plugged in the complex. In economic terms, the lack of escalator creates an unequal ease of access throughout the building, and such inequality is reflected on the rent payment for a given unit on a given floor. As such, the ground floor is full with commercial activities, while the upper floors become home for small offices and NGO agencies that desire less rent. This typology provides a platform for the growth of small-medium enterprises in the city center where the free-market economy would not have allowed such offerings.

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