Exhibition

Section 2
Defence and International Security

Section 3
Linking Bridges and Strengthening Ties

Section 4
Building on the Economic Miracle

Section 5
A Healthy Nation, A Thriving Land

Section 6
Housing a Nation: Changing Times, Changin Needs

Section 7
Sports and Culture: The Finer Things in Life

Section 8
Education for All on Different Paths

Section 9
The Next Decade

 
 

Housing a Nation: Changing Times, Changing Needs

 


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6.1 Better Homes and Better Environment for the People
6.2 Small and Cosy: It Begins with a Precint
6.3 The HDB Way of Life: Building Community Spirit
6.4 Face-Lift for Older Estates
6.5 Relocation of Farming Communities
6.6 Growing Roots: A Home to Own
6.7 Under One Roof
6.8 Do you know? 4D for Everyone
6.9 Do you know? Cash for Crops!
 

Better Homes and Better Environment for the People

Between 1965 and 1975, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) built enough flats to house more than half of Singapore’s population. In the next 10 years, HDB concentrated on improving the quality of flats and facilities in housing estates. Newer flats were bigger with higher ceilings, attached bathrooms and better quality finishing and included five-room double-storey maisonettes and executive apartments. Better planned new towns, each with its own identity were built in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Clementi, Woodlands, Jurong East and Jurong West, Hougang, Potong Pasir, Bukit Batok, Yishun and Tampines. Facilities for the elderly and handicapped such as ramps, were introduced in 1978.


Source: Singapore 1978, courtesy of NAS

Waiting lists for flats continued to fall as construction kept up its pace and reached its peak around 1977. The average waiting period for a flat went from three to four years to about two years. For the first time in HDB’s history, there were more owner-occupied flats than tenanted flats in that year.

 

Source: The Straits Times, 5 Oct 1980, Singapore Press Holdings
 


Source: National Archives of Singapore
Potong Pasir

 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
Bedok

As construction eased off slightly, planners paid greater attention to the design of flats and new towns, giving various “identities” to some of the new estates. A sloping roof design, for example distinguished Potong Pasir housing estate from the flat roof apartments of Bedok. Circular designs and curved balconies could be seen in blocks at Ang Mo Kio and Hougang.  Graphic elements were also used sometimes, such as the block in Hougang.

 

Source: Singapore 1982, courtesy of NAS
Ang Mo Kio
 

Source: HDB Annual Report 1985/86, courtesy of NAS
Hougang
 

Source: HDB, Annual Report 1981/82, courtesy of NAS
Hougang
 

Source: HDB Annual Report, 1981/82, courtesy of NAS
Clementi
 

Source: HDB Annual Report, 1981/82, courtesy of NAS
Clementi
 

Source: HDB Annual Report, 1981/82, courtesy of NAS
Ang Mo Kio
 

Source: HDB Annual Report, 1984/85, courtesy of NAS
Tampines

New towns such as Ang Mo Kio, Clementi and Tampines have town centres where facilities and services were centralized for the convenience of residents in the estate. Food centres, supermarkets, clinics, post offices and libraries could be found there, and special landscaping such as fountains and greenery served to make the town centres more attractive.


Source: Designed for Living, 1985
Ang Mo Kio


Source: HDB
Woodlands


Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
Woodlands


Source: HDB Annual Report 1980/81, courtesy of NAS

Not only were interiors of flats bigger, the surroundings of HDB estates were also more pleasant as parks and gardens such as Woodlands Town Garden and Ang Mo Kio Town Garden were factored into new developments.
 

Source: Designed for Living, 1985

In designing the Bukit Batok New Town, HDB took into consideration the natural environment and transformed a former granite quarry into a park.

 

Source: Singapore 1982, courtesy of NAS
New towns built in the second decade, such as this in Bedok, have ample sports facilities and open spaces.
 

Source: The Straits Times, 1 Feb 1979, Singapore Press Holdings
 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
Bedok
 

Source: HDB
Clementi
 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
Bedok

Swings with wooden seats and simple see-saws soon gave way to a new generation of playgrounds featuring brightly coloured motifs and maze-like designs, as the population living in new housing estates grew and children needed more space for creative play.

 
 

Small and Cosy: It Begins with a Precinct

In 1979, HDB introduced the concept of “precincts” each containing 600 to 1,000 housing units, compared to a maximum of 6,000 units in a neighbourhood. These smaller precincts with recreational facilities, kindergarten, coffee shops and retail shops aimed to bring residents closer and give them a greater sense of community.


Source: HDB, courtesy of NAS


Source: Designed for Living, 1985
Bt Batok


Source: HDB Annual Report 1985/86, courtesy of NAS
Tampines

Typically, precincts were linked to each other via pedestrian paths, to encourage greater interaction among residents and to foster close-knit communities in housing estates.

 
 

The HDB Way of Life: Building Community Spirit

“Today, the residents of Singapore’s public housing estates are no longer concerned with basic shelter and essential services, but with the quality of building workmanship and estates services. No longer are people waiting for their first home but for the opportunity to upgrade to better flats. … Indeed we are no longer talking about housing needs but housing opportunities, no longer about providing dwellings but a way of life.”

Extract from Chief Executive Officer, Housing and Development Board, Liu Thai Ker’s Foreword to Designed for Living, 1985.


Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
Ang Mo Kio
Common corridors or “courtyards in the sky” as well as void decks at the foot of housing blocks were settings for various impromptu or organized activities amongst residents.
 

Source: HDB Annual Report 1980/81, courtesy of NAS
 

Source: Designed for Living, 1985
 

Source: Teo Chong Tee Collection, courtesy of NAS
 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS

Art and colouring competitions for young children were popular and they usually revolved around themes that depicted family and country. At this children’s art carnival organised at the community level, children and their parents bonded as they created their art pieces.

 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS

During festive seasons, Members of Parliament would visit their constituencies to distribute goodies or gift hampers to senior citizens. Pictures show Minister for National Development Lim Kim San (1975 -78) talking to an elderly lady at Cairnhill Constituency in January 1978 and his successor Teh Cheang Wan (1978 – 1986) giving hongbaos to the elderly in Geylang West Constituency in January 1983.

 

Source: Ong Teng Cheong Collection, courtesy of NAS

“Grassroots organizations like Residents Committees … can help to enhance the sense of belonging to the community as well as improve vigilance and mutual assistance in coping with anti-social elements…”

Extract from Minister for Communications and Acting Minister for Culture, Ong Teng Cheong’s speech at the Crime Prevention Seminar, 20 April 1980.


Source: HDB, courtesy of NAS

“Good Neighbour Day” was the brain child of Member of Parliament (Chai Chee) Major Fong Sip Chee. It was an annual event organised by Chai Chee’s grassroots organisations for residents to get to know each other better, so as to maintain harmonious living.

To bring residents closer, grassroots organisations such as the Citizens Consultative Committees (CCCs), Community Centre Management Committees (CCMCs) and Residents’ Committees (RCs) organised community events both in public and private residential estates. These committees also provided communication links between residents and the authorities. 

In another role, RCs worked with the police to help form Neighbourhood Watch groups as they rallied residents to help one another and protect themselves from crime. In a community campaign launched in 1984, residents learnt the importance of maintaining social order and security, on sharing responsibility when using common facilities, and on anti social behaviour and the danger of throwing things out of windows from high-rise flats. 


Source: MITA (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
 

Source: HDB
 

Source: Our Home, Jun 1984, courtesy of NAS
Residents were encouraged to look upon policemen as friends and neighbourhood police posts began operation in housing estates in the 1980s. They were also educated on crime prevention techniques and on being socially responsible when sharing common public spaces.
 

Source: HDB Annual Report 1983/1984, courtesy of NAS
 

Source: HDB
 

Source: Our Home, Dec 1983, courtesy of NAS

Large-scale events continued to be organized by RCs as the population in housing estates grew, and some events encouraged residents to take an interest in their living environment. During the 1981 Tree Planting Day, more than 700 fruit trees were planted in Queenstown, Ang Mo Kio, Balastier, Bedok, Clementi, Kallang and Toa Payoh. By 1984, residents could take part in HDB-initiated “Fruit Trees Maintenance” programme where they learnt how to care for fruit trees.

Grassroots came to play an even greater role after Lim Boon Heng mooted the idea of town councils to manage housing estates during his 1984 General Election speech. The subject was later raised in Parliament in March 1986 and a pilot project was launched in Ang Mo Kio. When the Town Council Bill was read in Parliament on 28 Jun 1988, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Goh Chok Tong described it as a “mechanism to provide a new generation of Singaporeans with the opportunity to participate in the social and physical management of their own housing estates.” Town Councils were formed to manage HDB estates after the Bill was passed.

 
 

Face-lift for Older Estates

During the decade, older estates were being upgraded. Flats which were not demolished were either converted into larger units or given a makeover. In 1979, some one-room flats in Bukit Ho Swee, Redhill, Kampong Tiong Bahru, MacPherson, Kallang Airport and Changi were demolished to make way for new three- to five-room flats with recreational facilities such as playgrounds, public swimming pools and sports complex. More and better lifts were also installed.


Source: HDB Annual Report 1983/1984, courtesy of NAS

One-room flats in Whampoa being demolished as part of a redevelopment plan

 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS

Bukit Ho Swee one-room flats that were not demolished were converted into three-room flats with new windows and fittings, and improvements to water tanks and pipes were made.

 

Source: HDB Annual Report 1979/80, courtesy of NAS

New lifts were being added to serve these Bukit Ho Swee flats. Major improvements to lifts in older housing estates were made during the period, such as fitting lifts with an automatic rescue system that would take them to the nearest landing floor in case of power failure. Studies were also being done to see if closed-circuit television cameras could be installed in lifts to prevent crimes.

 

Source: Singapore Sports Council The First Ten Years, 1983
The Kallang Squash and Tennis Centre completed in February 1978 was an example of sports facilities added to older estates. It provided residents with easy and inexpensive access to squash and tennis courts. There were nine squash courts, including a competition court with a seating capacity of 200.

 
 

Relocation of Farming Communities

In 1980, 20% of Singapore’s total land area was used for farming. The problem of limited land and the need to develop water resources led to an overhaul of farming activities and a redevelopment of farming communities.

Changi was quickly transforming into an international airport; families affected were offered new flats in Bedok New Town, Kallang Basin, Eunos and Haig Road estates.

Pig farming was phased out in the catchment areas of Kranji/Pandan and relocated to Punggol and Jalan Kayu where intensive pig farming was introduced. Public housing estates in the rural areas were also provided with shopping facilities, and market-cum-hawker centres. 


Source: HDB Annual Report 1977/78, courtesy of NAS
 

Source: HDB Annual Report 1977/78, courtesy of NAS

Changi Village was being redeveloped in phases in tandem with the clearance of land to develop Changi Airport. The majority of households, shopkeepers and workshop operators in the village were relocated to other estates.


HDB, courtesy of NAS

HDB, courtesy of NAS

HDB, courtesy of NAS

HDB, courtesy of NAS

Fish farmers were part of the agricultural community affected by HDB’s resettlement scheme. As part of the policy, farmers and households in rural and suburban areas displaced by land clearance were offered compensation or they were given priority in getting alternative accommodation.

 

Source: Teo Chong Tee Collection, courtesy of NAS
 

Source: Teo Chong Tee Collection, courtesy of NAS

Member of Parliament (Changi) Teo Chong Tee (in floral shirt) and his community leaders gathering feedback from constituents who were being resettled. The large family they talked to eventually succeeded in getting five adjacent five-room HDB flats under the resettlement scheme and continued to live close to one another.

 
 

Growing Roots: A Home to Own

Higher family income and policies that made home-ownership easily affordable further encouraged Singaporeans to buy instead of renting HDB flats. The public housing units that were rented fell from 100% in the 1960s to 76% at the end of 1970 and to 38% in 1981.
 
Incentives such as financing concessions, higher mortgage loans and lower down-payments were available to make home-ownership more affordable for low- and middle-income families.

Flat buyers were allowed to use their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to pay a one-time premium for a compulsory CPF Home Protection Insurance Scheme introduced in 1981. This protected them from losing ownership due to unexpected default of mortgage payments, and ensured that the flat would be retained by the buyer’s family upon his death or permanent incapacitation without worry of further mortgage payments.


Source: HDB, courtesy of NAS
Architectural plan of apartment in Raja Court


Source: HDB Annual Report 1983/1984, courtesy of NAS
Rajah Court in Jalan Rajah, Moulmein

Potential homeowners could buy a variety of flats including executive apartments and five-room maisonettes in new towns and estates. Pictures show the interiors of the bigger flats available in the decade and an architectural plan of a five-room flat in Raja Court in Jalan Rajah, Moulmein.


Source: Singapore 1982, courtesy of NAS
Interior of a five-room flat
 

Source: Singapore 1983, courtesy of NAS
Interior of kitchen in a Marine Parade flat
 

Source: Designed for Living, 1985
Interior of a masionette

Member of Parliament (Changi) Teo Chong Tee (in floral shirt) and his community leaders gathering feedback from constituents who were being resettled. The large family they talked to eventually succeeded in getting five adjacent five-room HDB flats under the resettlement scheme and continued to live close to one another.


 
 

Under One Roof

In 1982, PM Lee highlighted in his Chinese New Year message that there was a trend of married children setting up their own homes and leaving their aged parents to live by themselves. With three-generation families breaking up into nuclear two-generation families. incentives were introduced to reverse the trend and encourage the younger generation to live closer to or with their parents. Those who did, for example, were eligible for bigger flats, given priority allocation, longer period of loan repayment and smaller deposit payments (for those with insufficient CPF savings).


Source: Singapore 1984
Kitchen of a 4-room HDB flat in Bedok North New Town

Singaporeans were encouraged to live with their older parents even after they were married and had their own families. Statistics showed that the number of households with a one-family nucleus had increased from about 270,000 in the 1970 Census to close to 400,000 in the 1980 Census.


Source: The Straits Times, 29 Sep 1982, Singapore Press Holdings
 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
Inspection of flats at Jurong West
 

Source: Singapore 1984, courtesy of NAS

 


Source: Singapore 1985, courtesy of NAS
Family Day Care Scheme

Bigger flats were designed to house extended families living together, in line with the policy to promote the extended family concept in 1982. Grandparents could help look after the young when they continued to live with their married children.

 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
Dialogue session at Singapore Conference Hall
 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS
 

Source: MOC (now MICA), courtesy of NAS

Home-ownership continued to be an important social pillar in nation building. First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Goh Chok Tong shared his vision for home-ownership through public housing at a dialogue session with community leaders on 8 Feb 1985:

“I believe a home is something which every family in Singapore should own. Not just a home to live in, but own a home. …. We should work out schemes whereby we can get them to eventually also own their own homes… So this is a major programme which my colleagues and I would like to undertake in the next 10 to 15 years. It is not possible to put every family into his own home… But let us start now. Five years’ time, maybe 20,000 more families from the old rental flats can move into their homes. 10 years’ time, 15 years’ time, if we maintain our economic growth, we are confident we can put more than 90 or perhaps 95% of all Singaporeans into a home of their own.”

Extract from First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Goh Chok Tong’s speech, 8 Feb 1985


Source: Our Home, Aug 1985, courtesy of NAS
 

Source: HDB

A panoramic view of Ang Mo Kio New Town. With the successful planning of new towns and more Singaporeans aspiring to own their homes, more such developments were expected in the years ahead.

 
 

Do you know? 4D for Everyone


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Do you know? Cash for Crops!


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