Singapore’s public housing programme, the Housing Developmental Board (HDB), was established in 1960 to improve poor living conditions for Singaporeans. The rapid construction of these flats after independence helped alleviate the housing shortage by providing low-cost homes for the population. Fast forward to today: as the nation-state’s economy has grown to become one of the world’s wealthiest, more than 80% of locals still live in HDB flats.
The increasingly affluent population desires greater personality in the design of its homes. Although these flats, until recently, have been known for their uninspired brutalist exteriors, visitors would be surprised to discover that many homeowners have taken their interior design seriously, helping to spawn the local interior design industry.
Here are four popular and surprising styles you may find in any one of Singapore’s ubiquitous public housing flats:
One would perhaps least expect Scandinavian interiors to appear in tropical Singapore’s public housing flats, but surprisingly Scandinavian has been one of the most popular styles in recent times. The Nordic detailing and light tones contrast with the city’s searing heat and the brightness of the tropical sun, softening the interiors dramatically.
As the city-state rapidly progressed from industrial production to a services and financial hub, some homeowners began to find the simplicity and honesty of the industrial style appealing. Eschewing the smooth, polished modern look, the industrial style offers a rough, heavy aesthetic in everything from exposed pipes to bare concrete walls.
A throwback to the old school which mimics traditional Peranakan (Straits Chinese) decor, furnished with 60s antique pieces, vintage style showcases an appreciation of the nation’s heritage. The sense of nostalgia offers a breath of fresh air in some flats in a country where progress has been the overriding impulse.
Minimalist design helps to free up the interiors to accentuate the space. In land-scarce Singapore, where most HDB flats range from 60m2 to 100m2, abundance of space symbolizes luxury. Sparse furnishing, with restrained use of colours, besides being cost efficient, represents an attempt to create understated elegance in a public housing apartment.
The dramatic change in the interiors of Singapore’s public housing is reflective of the inhabitants’ sense of ownership of what used to be nondescript dwellings designed merely to fulfill basic necessities. The various influences adopted as shown in the differing styles reveal a melting pot hidden from the ordinary visitor to the city.
HDB Flats – Supercoolpics
Featured Image – Explore Singapore
All other images courtesy of Hometrust
Guest Author Bio
Jasmine is fascinated by all things tech and entrepreneurship. Having lived in San Francisco and Asia, she has dabbled in a variety of roles – online marketer, content curator as well as investment advisor. Her latest obsession lies in the changing tech landscape in Southeast Asia. As always, Jasmine loves to travel and muse about how everyday design constantly shapes our lives.