Singapore / Historical Documents: Plan of SIT’s Tiong Bahru
As the first project undertaken by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), the Tiong Bahru Estate is one of the oldest public housing estates in Singapore. About 2000 units of three-to five-story apartment buildings were built between 1936 and 1954 by architects Lincoln Page, Robert F. N. Kan and A. G. Church, who took influence from British New Towns in the design. Thirty blocks containing 931 units were built by the Trust in 1936 and fifty blocks of apartments comprising 1040 units were built in 1948. The one-to-five-room dwelling units and mix-used units were laid out on a grid provided with generous green public open space. Clean and rational architectural façades featuring rounded balconies, thin horizontal slabs, and ventilation holes gave the place its unique modernist character. The public can walk along footpaths through the spacious backyards owned and maintained by the residents on the ground floor. The atmosphere within the housing complex is intimate and warm, which encourages residents to mingle outside their houses. This also reflects the British New Towns influence: the emphasis on creating small neighbourhoods and maximum privacy between individual homes, the need to promote health and to improve security thanks to open views and public surveillance.