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Liu Thai Ker on being the "architect of modern Singapore"

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They share their principles behind the groundbreaking design and their favourite features.

Synopsis: The Straits Times speaks with experts to discuss how public housing design has evolved in Singapore.

Public housing is all around us. They are in older towns such as Queenstown and Toa Payoh, and in newer ones like Punggol and Bidadari. Eight in ten Singaporeans live in HDB flats.

How has the design of HDB blocks evolved over the decades? What has worked out and what hasn't?

ST's housing correspondent Michelle Ng speaks with Dr Liu Thai Ker, widely known as the architect of modern Singapore. This is because he helped to plan 20 out of the 24 HDB towns in Singapore during his time from 1969 to 1989.

Highlights (click/tap above):

2:33 Essence of early public housing: "Low-cost" evolving to "public" housing, home ownership and affordability a challenge back then

5:27 What did liveable public housing look like back then?

8:13 The design principles behind the early HDB flats

13:56 Slab blocks versus point blocks; Dr Liu on not allowing himself to compromise on floor area

20:08 Dr Liu explains the "courtyard in the sky" principle 

26:45 Key principles he left behind to bear in mind when planning for the long term in Singapore

Listen to the the design duo behind HDB's gamechanging Pinnacle@Duxton:

Discover ST's interactive graphic article of this topic:

Produced by: Michelle Ng (, Ernest Luis, Teo Tong Kai and Fa'izah Sani

Edited by: Teo Tong Kai

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