Singapore / Modernism, Public Housing & National Identity
The introduction of modern architecture in Singapore was done on a relatively large scale by its public housing. In 1936, the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) built the first large-scale public housing projects – the Tiong Bahru Estate – in Singapore, using modern materials such as reinforced concrete, with minimum decoration and rationalised forms, which allowed mass production and kept construction costs down. Simplicity, rationality, and beauty are the main characteristics featured in SIT designed apartments. They are a blend of imported and local styles, reflected by simple, clear lines and planes found in the design of the estates, which are precisely the elements of the Art Deco and the International style. The styles were prominent in Europe during that period, and British and local SIT architects took inspiration from public housing in British New Towns like Stevenage and Harlow. 
After succeeding the SIT, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) took the modernist style further by applying it to its public housing design in a conscious attempt to break with the colonial legacy, and in a search for a national architectural identity. The State Minister for National Development, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan had expressed: “Building in the modern style was also a statement that we were breaking away from the old colonial society, which was riddled with inequality and vast disparities of wealth and living conditions. Architecture, often seen as a manifestation of a society’s values, thus mirrored that break from old values and the warm embrace of the new values and ideals of an independent and egalitarian Singapore”. 
2. Speech: Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan (September 4, 2002) State Minister for National Development, at mAAN’s 2nd International Conference: “Towards Modern Asian Architecture”, NUS, Singapore.