Instead of building banal apartment blocks, the HDB hired some of the most talented local architects to create a new generation of subsidised projects that would be greener and built at much higher densities than older ones.
For an area called Dawson, not far from Singapore's downtown, HDB planned three large projects to replace a low-rise housing estate demolished a decade ago. Two of these complexes—SkyTerrace and SkyVille—are under construction with the third building waiting for approval.
SCDA Architects, headed by Soo K. Chan, designed SkyTerrace, focusing on the buildings' relationship to an adjacent linear park running along the Alexandra Canal and the need for multigenerational living units.
Comprising five towers ranging from 40 to 43 stories and sitting atop a parking podium, the project will offer residents great views from their apartments as well as a series of landscaped spaces flowing over the podium, down to a large courtyard, and into the linear park.
Terraces with lush tropical plants will connect the towers at various heights, offering elevated gardens to residents, who begin arriving in early 2015. The elevated gardens are connected by vegetated bridges that encourage elevator-free leisure for occupants and reinforce a sense of community.
To accommodate Singapore's growing number of elderly, SCDA designed studio apartments that attach to larger duplexes, so aging parents can live next to their children while maintaining their independence.
Clearly expressed on the exterior of the mostly precast-concrete buildings, each apartment was fabricated off-site as a set of modules, then hoisted into place.
The project has earned a Platinum rating from Singapore's Green Mark system by taking advantage of the tropical climate to harvest rainwater, provide drip irrigation for plantings, filter water in bio-retention basins, and generate energy with rooftop solar arrays. Its design uses natural ventilation and sun shading to keep apartments cool without air-conditioning.