HDB white flat 1

HDB open-concept ‘white flats’ are likely to appeal to young people. Image courtesy: Singapore Housing & Development Board

For generations of Singaporeans, getting a Housing & Development Board (HDB) apartment has been the mark of finding one’s own place in society in every sense of the phrase.

The public housing authority has literally shaped the island nation for 64 years now, with 80 per cent of Singapore’s resident population living in HDB housing; of them, 90 per cent are home owners. HDB also makes area master plans and allocates spaces for nature, commerce, and recreation.

This year, HDB is launching a new kind of apartment, as part of a pilot project. The new open-concept ‘white flats’ are coming up in Kallang-Whampoa, with the launch planned for October.

In a recent Facebook post, Singapore National Development Minister Desmond Lee informed the public that the new open-concept HDB design was based on feedback from young people in Singapore.

“A number of young Singaporeans whom I had spoken to during Our Housing Conversations shared that they hope to have greater flexibility to configure their living spaces to suit their needs and circumstances,” wrote the minister.

HDB white flat 2
With no walls and doors in the middle, there is greater flexibility of arranging living and dining areas in this new design concept. Image courtesy: Singapore Housing & Development Board

He added: “Over the years, the Housing & Development Board has been improving flat designs, such as by introducing features like open kitchen layouts and tucking columns towards the edges of the units for layout flexibility.

“The White Flat pilot is our latest initiative to provide homeowners greater flexibility in designing their homes. Interested homebuyers can look out for more details when we launch the first pilot project in Kallang/Whampoa in the October 2024 BTO sales exercise. #bto #hdb #sghousing”

“BTO” refers to the Build-To-Order (or Built-To-Order) model, in which a product — in this case, housing — is built only after confirmed orders are received.

Lee’s post was accompanied by several images of the proposed White Flat layouts and an explanation of what the project was.

The ‘white’ part of a white flat is free of beams or any columns in the middle, giving the owner a large white space to decorate as desired. The absence of walls and doors means one can have a loft-style space, and the absence of floor finishes gives one the freedom to customise the flooring.

HDB white flat layout
Image courtesy: Facebook/Desmond Lee

According to a report in The Straits Times, the pilot project will have 80 three-room units and 230 four-room flats on a site near Lavender MRT station.

HDB white flat features
Image courtesy: Facebook/Desmond Lee

Talking about this new type of flat at a National University of Singapore seminar, the minister said that the open-plan living was likely to appeal to people with young children, and that internal walls could be erected if and when an extra room was needed.

“At a later life stage, when the kids become older, the couple can then choose to reconfigure the flat based on their new needs, such as creating bedrooms or redesigning their living spaces,” he said.

Singapore National Development Minister Desmond Lee
Singapore National Development Minister Desmond Lee. Photo courtesy: Instagram/desmond.lee

The ST report quoted HDB as saying that Singapore buyers who were invited to book a flat could opt for the white flat plan; if they did not specify the white flat when booking, they would get a standard layout flat.

Pricing is, of course, one of the main factors for young home buyers, and HDB has accounted for this in the pilot project. “The non-provision of internal partition walls will be factored into the pricing of the white flats, which is still being finalised,” it said.

HDB wins World Gold award for Bidadari estate

The Singapore Housing & Development Board (HDB) clinched the prestigious World Gold award for Bidadari estate in the Master Plan category, at the 2024 FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Awards, held on May 30, 2024, at Gardens by the Bay.

Overview of the HDB Bidadari Estate Masterplan
Overview of the HDB Bidadari Estate Masterplan. Image courtesy: Singapore Housing & Development Board

This was the only World Gold Award for Singapore this year, and it is the first time that a Singapore developer has won World Gold in the Master Plan category.

Established on February 1, 1960, during Singapore’s housing crisis, HDB was tasked with providing sanitary living conditions to replace slums and squatter settlements. It built 21,000 flats in less than 3 years. By 1965, it had built 54,000 flats. Today, more than 1 million flats have been completed in 24 towns and 3 estates across the island.