Have you ever wondered about what goes behind the design and construction of your HDB flat? What kind of planning is there? What does HDB do to make our towns more comfortable and vibrant? These questions often come to mind as I look around and see the changes taking place in my HDB estate. So when HDB opened its refreshed exhibition gallery LIVINGSPACE, I decided to pay a visit to find out more.
”Confirm normal normal only la”
My friend couldn’t have been more wrong when he said this, after I told him of my planned trip to LIVINGSPACE. There’s nothing normal about the hard-to-miss giant screen at “Homescape” that welcomes you at level 1 of the HDB Hub. Located next to Coffee Bean, this will be one of your young kids’, nieces’, or nephews’ favourite part of LIVINGSPACE. It comes with a ‘skywalk’- raised platform that displays visuals in sync with the main video. Kids thoroughly enjoyed this display, with many walking and running repeatedly across the changing visuals, as if challenging the images to change as fast as they moved.
I headed on down to B1 via the escalator, and was greeted by a blank wall.
Eh? It seemed an odd welcome to a visitor like me. Upon closer inspection, a portion of it suddenly lit up, showing information about HDB’s beginnings. It was the start of an interactive journey — the panels lit up as I traversed the wall, unfolding more details of HDB’s history (it’s worth to note they’re celebrating 60 years of providing public housing next year!).
The next exhibit that caught my eye was the interactive maps in the “Plan” space. You can zoom in to the details and see how HDB planners, architects and engineers build our vibrant and sustainable towns. SimCity/ Iron Man fans would love this. I spent an insane amount of time here, zooming in and out of Punggol plans like Tony Stark, trying to kaypoh about the land set aside for residential use, the distance of homes to MRT/ LRT stations (it’s about 200m-400m in our HDB estates, in case you were also wondering), and even the design of the individual flats.
”This is how we build community”
Playing catching at the playground was definitely a memory that my neighbours and I “Share” and cherish. Seeing the iconic dragon playground in LIVINGSPACE was a pleasant surprise! Not going to lie – I may have slid down the structure (more than once). This will definitely be everyone’s (re: children) favourite spot in the Gallery. And it’s totally made for the ‘gram!
Thinking back, every HDB project has plenty of community spaces, in the form of gardens, playgrounds, exercise corners and so on. I think I have to thank HDB for helping me meet some of my childhood friends in the neighbourhood!
Psst… here’s an Easter egg: ‘activate’ the human models (by touching the display) in front of the dragon to see fun facts about HDB towns, and the community programmes that HDB organises with residents to build strong communities. I found out that HDB actually provides up to $10,000 in funding for each community project that residents propose.
The Fountain of Youth
Moving along, have you wondered how HDB towns stay “forever young”? HDB explains how they rejuvenate a town, with a huge 3D model of Toa Payoh town which lights up when you tap on the information panels. The model details the plans for new developments and improvements to existing facilities to reinforce the character of Toa Payoh. I also learnt that HDB introduces new housing projects into older towns whenever there are opportunities to do so. This helps to bring in new (and younger) families to the town, making it even more vibrant. It’s no wonder Toa Payoh is still buzzing after all these years!
Building towns of the future
At this point of my visit, I was drawn to an expansive space that looked like a theatre. Sitting back, I admired the full-screen displays of Singapore’s first forest town – Tengah. As I uncovered the layers behind the planning of HDB’s newest and youngest town, I experienced a visual and sensory overload. So. Much. Greenery. And. Technology. Think vertical farms, green corridors, car-lite districts, autonomous vehicles, Smart environments and more. It surely wouldn’t look out of place in a Marvel movie (Wakanda anyone?), and sounds like a future that we would all love to experience.
Impressed? Wait no more and find out for yourself how HDB plans our estates for Singaporeans to work, learn, play, and live at this fully interactive gallery.
And by the way, there’s even a vending machine selling little mementos of HDB living, such as the dragon playground. So don’t forget to take home a slice of the heartland with you.
LIVINGSPACE is open from Mondays to Saturdays, 8.30am to 5.00pm. Admission is free.