Wow, These Are Singapore’s Most Unusual HDB Flats
STORY: Pearlyn Tham
07 July 2021
If you ever bother to look up from your phone and at the many HDB flats around you, you will notice that they chut many patterns, depending on the era that they were built in.
And we are only talking about the external facades.
Step into the individual units and you will realise that many HDB homes are not built cookie-cutter style, despite their so-called utilitarian role as public housing.
For instance, your friend’s five-room unit may have a curved balcony whereas yours may not come with one at all. Or your cousin’s BTO has an enclosed laundry area while you just have… bamboo poles.
Here are some HDB flats that are so unique – both on the outside and on the inside – that they will have you humming “this is home, truly”.
Wah, like living in landed property liddat
You already know about the Whampoa HDB terraced house that was sold for $1.268 million in June.
But did you know how these terraced houses came about? History lesson: they were built in the 1950s by HDB’s predecessor aka the Singapore Improvement Trust. You will find these unique public-housing-meets-landed-homes hybrids in the relatively old-school Whampoa and Queenstown areas.
They generally have a renewed lease of 50 years or even less. And yes, you don’t get to park your car in your front porch – there usually isn’t one, just a small yard area – and you have to apply for season parking. Just like other HDB residents living in boring high-rise flats.
And while these terraced homes have two storeys, they tend to have an overall floor space of just 900 sq ft – trust us, it feels even tinier than a one-storey unit of the same size as we have been in one before. The rarer ones that go up to 2,000 sq ft are the unicorns that bring in the million-dollar deals.
The one with the longest corridor
Still on the topic of Whampoa… if you love having many neighbours around you (so it’s not so creepy when you scamper back to your flat after midnight during Hungry Ghost Festival), get a unit in Blk 34 at Whampoa West.
The corridor on every storey spans a whopping 320m long, making this HDB block the one with the longest corridors in Singapore.
The downside? If you are a Ninja Van courier, a GrabFood delivery person or just someone looking for your Fourth Uncle’s home, you will be very sian and exhausted trying to get from one end of the corridor to the other. Should have brought along your e-bike lah.
My HDB flat is much more bigger than yours
Because it is a jumbo flat.
In the late 1980s, the genre was created to make unsold three-room or four-room flats more attractive to prospective buyers. Two units were combined – their walls were literally knocked down – to form a generous living space that can go up to more than 2,000 sq ft.
For some reason, most of these are found in Yishun and Woodlands although there are some highly prized (and also priced) ones in mature estates like Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh too.
As these jumbo flats are made up of two units and aren’t built specifically as larger flats, they have two kitchens which means you could host big home parties – until COVID-19 came along, that is.
You can pretend you are living in a New York loft apartment
For those who fancy a loft concept – think a higher-than-norm ceiling with bigger windows to let all that Singapore sunshine in – you will want to call Sky Terrace @ Dawson or Treelodge @ Punggol home. Some of these units not only have twice the ceiling volume, compared to other HDB flats; they even come with staircases for you to access the mezzanine level.
Even more unique are the units that come with connecting studio apartments for multi-generational living.
The whole clan can stay together under one roof
In 1987, HDB launched multi-generation flats with the cute nickname, Granny Flats. These are four-room or five-room flats with adjoining studio apartments that had separate entrances so, you know, Granny (or Grandpa, if you aren’t sexist like the 1980s) can be near enough to help you with your little hoomans and cook you your favourite rendang ayam every day… yet stay out of your way when you want to be an adult all over again.
A more recent design that is similar to these Granny flats are the 3Gen flats. They have four bedrooms and two are master bedrooms with en suite bathrooms so you don’t have to fight over toilet time with your parents, like you are 15 all over again.