I just started working on a side project that led me to a book about public housing in Singapore written in1975. With more than 80% of Singaporeans living in public housing, or Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, these buildings have more than shaped the landscape of Singapore, they have also shaped many aspects of Singaporean’s lives, from shopping habits, to socialization patterns, to commuting patterns, even how children play. I can’t wait to share more on this project in a few months, but for now I will just say it has facilitated many of interesting conversations about a topic I am very passionate about: housing.
Yesterday evening though I spent some time looking through this book with friends. As they reminisced about growing up in similar flats,they reminded me that their is much more to Singapore’s housing story than simply improving the physical conditions of housing. Instead the story must be about those that were housed, about how they live and how their lives were changed by HDB flats. For now though enjoy these HDB photos circa 1975.
Queenstown Neighborhood VI,which has 4,500 units
Toa Payoh New Town
Queenstown Neighborhood IV with 5,000 housing units and light industry.
“Typical” living rooms in a three room (2 bedroom + living room) flat and a five room (4 bedrooms + living room) flat.
All images are from “Public Housing in Singapore a Multi-Displinary Study” Edited by Stephen H.K. Yeh, Published by Singapore University Press for the Housing and Development Board. 1975.