Singapore / Queenstown Part 2: HDB

With the disbanding of the SIT in 1960, the new Housing and Development Board became responsible for the completion of the Queenstown project. The immediate difference that can be seen between the SIT and HDB plans is the densification in the latter. While initially conceived for 50,000 people, the completed project housed three times as many in 1975.

Circa 1950s  Source:
Queenstown Plan, SIT
Circa 1950s
Queenstown Plan, HDB Commonwealth (N) & Tanglin Halt (S) highlighted in red. Circa 1960 Source:
Queenstown Plan, HDB
Commonwealth (N) & Tanglin Halt (S) highlighted in red.
Circa 1960
Queenstown,1980 Masterplan Source:
Queenstown,1980 Masterplan

This was achieved through the manipulation of building height and arrangement. Instead of single rows of terraced housing, two parallel blocks back-to-back make an appearance on the revised plan. In addition, the average height of the blocks increased to seven floors from the previous terraced blocks. Particular attention should be paid to the Tanglin Halt and Commonwealth neighbourhoods, which were significantly altered by the HDB as they were still in planning stages in 1960 when the transition occurred. Commonwealth was altered from being a series of parallel blocks to a more radial arrangement. A few central blocks surround what is presumably a community centre, and the remainder of the residential blocks forms rings around this central point. Tanglin Halt retained its long parallel blocks, but these were rearranged to create courtyard conditions between every pair which was more visually cohesive and could act as a gathering point.

The lack of an orthogonal grid remains, however, indicating that the Garden City ideal was not lost. The HDB also added two more neighbourhoods to the scheme – Mei Ling (1960s) and Buona Vista (1970s) – due to the popularity of the earlier flats. Mei Ling in particular was used a testing ground for new forms, with the now commonly used point-block design first being used here, as well as the ‘aesthetic’ butterfly shaped block. This is an indication that the HDB was coming into its own by developing new prototypes which would become national landmarks.



1., (2014). Queenstown – the cradle of Singapore’s housing development | Asian Urban Epicenters. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Dec. 2014].

2., (2014). The First Satellite Estate. [online]
Available at: [Accessed 26 Dec. 2014].

3., (2014). HDB history, photos and floor plan evolution 1930s to 2010s | Teoalida’s Website. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Dec. 2014].

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