My Newsradio Scripts

These are my old radio news scripts on Singapore's current affairs when I worked as a broadcast journalist.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

OTGV #7 - Duxton

Broadcast Date: 06/05/02

Public housing has taken another quantum leap.

Singapore's tallest public housing estate in Duxton Plain will boast of design features to shake our perceptions of what public housing should be like.

The World's Tallest and MOST Expensive Public Housing???
Pictures from URA and from

Hi, welcome to On the Grapevine with me Chong Ching Liang as I take a peep into the vision of the future.

National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan explains why Duxton Plain, the site of the first HDB flats are again chosen for a trail-blazing project.

"We have chosen Duxton Plain again for another important experiment. In the last 30 years, the planning focus for the city was on building it into a business and financial centre. In the new economy, it is people that drive the economy. The future of our city has to go beyond meeting the functional needs of the business community."

The Singapore of the future must boast of a vibrant city nerve-centre so that it can attract enough personnel to be a metropolis.

Mr Mah again.

"A bustling city needs a large live-in population base. Today, there are 30,000 households living in the city. We intend to raise this number to 120,000 in the long term. This will help to build up a critical mass to sustain the activities of the city round the clock. We also want to introduce more variety of housing, including public housing, which would be affordable to a large number of Singaporeans."

However, height and faceless facades won't be the denominator for the public housing of the future.

Chairperson of Jury Panel, Chief Planner of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Mrs Koh-Lim Wen Gin on the smorgasbord of design available from the recently concluded design competition to select the Duxton Plains flats.

"Some of the schemes have proposed that the sky rise garden could be vertically climbing from the ground all the way from each and every floor right to the 50th storey. And many schemes have also proposed a lot of sky gardens linking blocks as well. There's another group of proposal that has advocated that instead of having seven or nine blocks on site, why not have two super blocks to house the 1800 units and within these super blocks they have proposed sub-communities spaces up in the air."

And the winning number?

Co-Founder of the winning A-R-C Studio, Khoo Peng Beng.

"We took advantage of the siting which is next to Duxton Plain in the City itself and from there we work out a park. And this park, it actually starts from the ground but it doesn't stop there. It also goes on to the 26th storey and the roof. within this park, we didn't want it to be purely open or with many pockets of closed enclosed spaces. We wanted the spaces to be programmable so we allowed spaces for jazz concerts or night bazaars, but we also allow small little corners for chitchats, a gathering or a group study with friends or just sitting down for a quiet contemplation."

Mr Khoo on his favourite design feature.

"The favourite portion of this project? Then it will have to be the hills on the roof, 'cause we have designed the hills to rise above the security fencing but set away so that its safe. And if you are sitting on this hill, I can just imagine looking at the views surrounding you. You know you'll feel like you are on top of the mountain in a city and you know to me, that's really exciting."

Artist Impression of Roof-top Park, URA, ARC Studio

But what about the costs of individual flats?

Reality of today already presented Singaporeans with the infamous Toa Payoh 5-room flats that went for nearly half a million dollars in the open balloting system.

The Duxton Plains flats are far more breathtaking with roof-top gardens and jogging tracks.

Will it cost even more?

I put this question to the Deputy Secretary of the National Development Ministry, Mrs Cheong-Chua Koon Hean

"The flat sizes are still about the same as the HDB so this is still public housing, so let's study the details first. That's why I don't think we can go into the costing now. I just reiterate the point to the press that this is public housing, at the end of the day, the idea is to try and price it reasonably within the constraints of the costs but you must remember this is in the city, so this is on more prime land."

Like Minister Mah, Mrs Cheong says HDB has not lost sight of the focus that public housing must be affordable although she can't go into the eventual costs as yet.

What is affordable or reasonable?

This is the question that Singaporeans must eventually ask themselves carefully.

Although 80 percent of them lived in public housing, Singaporeans are now running the risk of not being able to retire comfortably due to their housing purchase.

But on to brighter side of things.

President of the Singapore Institute of Architects and a judge of the Duxton Plain design competition, Edward Wong.

"I think it is very exciting scenario for the whole architectural profession in Singapore. With this, I think it is a milestone so far as housing is concerned. There's not many countries in the world where you have the opportunity of such a challenge. And this is actually the fore-runner of an urban solution of high density living which many cities need as a solution. There are many cities now in Asia that are becoming mega-cities in the sense that they have populations in excess of ten million in one city. And to solve transportation problems and living conditions within such congestion, this is one solution. This is one possible solution."
URA, ARC Studio

It is exciting time for both the changing face of public housing and the deeper issues of affordability that must eventually come with it.

This is Chong Ching Liang, for Newsradio 938.

Related Websites:
Ministry of National Development
Urban Redevelopment Authority
Singapore Institute of Architects
Pictures of Duxton Plain flats from:


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