Redefining public housing for the world

The Pinnacle@Duxton – designsingapore.org

The Pinnacle@Duxton – designsingapore.org

It isn’t very often that a public housing building is praised for its uniqueness and innovation, but The Pinnacle@Duxton definitely fills the role nicely. Located at Cantonment Road in Singapore, the massive complex features seven separate 50 story buildings, all linked by three levels of parks and two huge sky bridges at the 26th and 50th floors. Together there are a total of 1,848 individual apartments, and all seven towers are ranked as the world’s tallest public housing buildings. It is not only a remarkable and iconic building in Singapore, it also serves as one of the best examples of an energy efficient, high density living space in the world.

Model of the Pinnacle@Duxton – courtesy of HDB

Model of the Pinnacle@Duxton – courtesy of HDB

The design for the building was selected through the international Duxton Plain Public Housing Design Competition in 2002, put on by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, which 227 firms from 32 countries took part in. The winner came from team members of ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism and RSP Architects Planners and Engineers. As stated on designsingapore.org, “The project addressed a wide spectrum of social, political, and cultural issues with simplicity and clarity while demonstrating sensitivity to the relationship between high-rise, high-density living and the human scale.”

Original HDB rental blocks at the current site of The Pinnacle@Duxton

Original HDB rental blocks at the current site of The Pinnacle@Duxton

The Pinnacle@Duxton is located in the city center of Singapore at a historically significant site. The building sits atop the area where the first two ten-story Housing and Development Board blocks in the region were located. The project was done as a major redevelopment to rejuvenate the area and attract new households to the city. Pictured to the right are the original rental blocks, which had some of the very oldest HDB buildings in the country, built in 1963.

The building was designed to provide plenty of open communal space for residents, while at the same time being compact and efficient. Together the buildings house over 7000 residents in a 2.5-hectare area, which is over 3 times the density of the average public housing project in the country. The sky bridges create one of the longest continuous sky gardens in the world, which weaves through each building block with panoramic views of the city skyline. The bottom deck of the building is an extension of a city park with connections to other areas of the city, which now showcases an outdoor gallery of the significance of the original housing blocks.

By raising the building above the road level and integrating the deck and sky gardens, all residents in the area have a place to interact and mingle. There are multiple pathways to choose from within the complex so that residents have the option of utilizing fast and convenient connections, or slower and more relaxing paths for recreation.

The apartments were sold to eligible Singaporeans before construction was even complete, which stipulated that buyers couldn’t earn above a certain income level and that they could not resell the living space for at least 5 years. Due to the real estate market being in such high demand today the apartments are expected to be worth several times the amount that they were originally bought for. However, most residents have said they are reluctant to sell, even for as high as S$3 Million, when they are first eligible to go on the market later in 2014.

The building contains many different apartment layouts to choose from. Another unique design aspect is that the internal lightweight concrete walls in each apartment can be removed or reconfigured by the owners. The complex includes sport and recreational facilities, a convenience store, food center, an underground car park, and daycare center. The Pinnacle@Duxton shows that it is possible to create a unique and sustainable living space in a high-rise, high-density environment.

Take a look at this two minute clip from YouTube to get a better idea of what the structure looks like and see how amazing this building really is.

*Public housing in Singapore is generally not considered a sign of poverty or lower standard of living like most other areas of the world. Although public housing is generally cheaper than privately built homes, there is a wide range of quality and many options to choose from that cater to the middle and even upper class. About 85% of Singaporeans live in some form of public housing, which is built and managed by the Housing and Development Board. There are several eligibility guidelines that must be met in order to purchase a new public housing apartment. The buyer must be a citizen, at least 21 years old, and have a family. The gross  income the buyers earns can not be above a certain amount, usually ranging from $2000-$5000 per month. Apartments can be resold after the minimum occupancy period to people with higher incomes, but the new buyer still must meet most of the other criteria to purchase a public housing unit.

Advertisements