Federation for
Housing and

Popular Public Housing in Singapore

How come 80 % of the population in one of the wealthiest countries in the world live in public housing?

The short answer is that the country has a unique housing system, which runs like a well-oiled machine providing homes, benefits and liveability to the broad population.


The Housing & Development Board (HDB) is the public housing authority in Singapore. It was formed amidst an acute housing shortage in pre-independence Singapore in 1960. At that time, most people lived in overcrowded, insanitary conditions in low-standard housing, and could not afford to be home owners. HDB rose to the challenge, acquiring land and putting comprehensive plans into action, designing and building affordable, quality homes. Today, HDB houses more than 80 % of the country’s 3.8 million residents.


The home ownership concept

The home ownership is the foundation of the public housing programme. The idea behind the concept is that it gives every person a tangible stake in the nation. Also, the government provides mortgage financing loan for buyers of HDB flats, ensuring the homes are affordable to Singaporean. On average, most people pay about 20 % of their monthly income to service their loan. Residents owning apartments for more than five years are free to sell it at the open market. Several have made fortunes on that situation.


Throughout HDB’s towns, six different flat types are provided to choose from. The types of flats are displayed in 1:1 scale at HDB’s headquarter, where you will find models of the towns as well. That means you don’t have to go and see the actual apartment. You pick it from the model and hope the view is good. The types of flats are similar, and the most common type is four-room apartments about 90 square meters in size. Though the flats are similar, you have the possibility to customise the interior by choosing different features or materials.


Low income families get extra help. On top of the existing housing subsidies, they also receive an Additional Housing Grant to buy their first flat. Some low-income families which cannot afford to own homes are offered rental flats, at heavily subsidised rates.


A result of the housing system is that 9 out of 10 HDB dwellers own their home. The eligible conditions to become a HDB home owner are, roughly, that you have to have a Singaporean citizenship, be a least 21 years old, form a family nucleus, have a monthly household income of less than 10.000 SGD, and not having own any private residential property in the last 30 month.


>> More information on the The Housing & Development Board (HDB).


The flagship of public buildings

Next to the low and dense china town you will find a quite spectacular landmark: seven buildings towering 50 floors above the ground.  The award-winning Pinnacle@Duxton is the biggest and most prestigious public housing in Singapore. Unique amongst HDB developments, these units are designated as special types having altogether 35 different unit variations for buyers to choose from – with dissimilar combinations of features such as extended bays, balconies, bay windows and planter areas. Buyers are able to choose their flat's layout from combinations of balconies, planter boxes and/or bay windows.


The Pinnacle@Duxton also features the world's two longest sky gardens of 500 metres each, on both the 26th and 50th floors. All seven towers are the world's tallest public housing buildings. The 26th storey skybridge is reserved for residents' use, as it serves as a refuge floor. Facilities on the 26th storey skybridge include a RC centre, 800 metres running track, senior citizen fitness corner, outdoor gym, children playground, community plaza, fitness corner and 2 view decks. The 50th storey skybridge is open to both residents and the public. To access the 50th storey skybridge, members of the public have to pay $5 per person per entry.


The building is the result of an international architecture competition, which eventually was won by a local team. The Duxton Plain site is historically significant as the site of the first two ten-storey HDB blocks in the area and amongst the oldest built by the HDB in the country. The idea to redevelop Duxton Plain was put forward by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in August 2001, to commemorate the historical significance of the previous blocks. A funny detail is the pattern of the facades, which are said to be inspired by the Matrix.


>> For more information the Pinnacle@Duxton.