Evolution of Open Space Planning of Singapore HDB Housing Projects during 1960-2018

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วรรณชนก บุญชำนาญ


Singapore’s housing policies have changed with its building designs over the decades since it was established. This can be clearly seen from the design of open spaces in recent HDB (Housing and Development Board) projects which have different designs from the projects built in 1960, when the HDB was just established. This qualitative research aims to study open space planning in HDB residential projects and its relationship with public housing policies during the different ages, and to glean some insights on how to improve residential development organization in Thailand.
The research begins by dividing the development periods between 1960 and 2018 and studying its relevant housing policies. Thereafter, four distinct housing projects and their open space layouts are analysed for their relationship with the policies in its respective period. Finally, we conclude with the lessons learned.
In summary, this study states that: (1) Housing policies can be divided into four distinct periods (1.1) The Government under Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's leadership can be divided into two time periods - the Age of Housing Shortage that resulted in straightforward open spaces to allow HDB to build as many housing units in the shortest time and lowest budgets possible, and; (1.2) The Age of Community Building, where buildings in housing projects were arranged in clusters to form courtyards between blocks, allowing the creation of communal spaces where residents could dwell and interact. (1.3) The Government under Prime Minister Mr. Goh Chok Tong's leadership, which was the Age of House Ownership. Housing was seen as assets for owners hence the concept of multi-storey carpark (MSCP) and roof gardens was introduced. (1.4) The Government under Prime Minister Mr. Lee Hsien Loong's leadership (at present), when HDB aims to develop housing under “City in a Garden” concept. Underground parking is introduced with the environmental deck on top as open space for usage. (2) Open space planning in each period is always relevant to concepts of “Garden City” and “City in a Garden” which is Singapore’s core green policy. It is noted that although residential densities have risen over decades due to limited land resources, at the same time, open space ratio per housing site has also increased.
As such, we can see that open space planning in HDB projects is integral to the success of housing policies introduced in each period and the country’s physical development concept. This is helpful to improving the development of residential projects in Thailand, with lessons on project planning and design following development policy. These are factors that can lead to better project successes.

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