Guo Xiu Jin

Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Lee Kah Wee

Universal Housing Renewal:
Facilitating lease renewal of Singapore’s public housing  

This thesis project imagines a future where every Singaporean living in HDB public housing has the opportunity to renew the 99-year lease on their flat, and how to facilitate such a future.


The 99-year lease on Housing and Development Board (HDB) public housing flats has drawn controversy and debate. Early promises painted HDB flats as safe investments for ‘nest eggs’, with ever-rising prices that guaranteed profits when sold later.  This has since been proven untrue, with flat prices depreciating like any other home on a limited lease. Worsening the issue, HDB’s Selective En-bloc Scheme (SERS), the public equivalent to the private en-bloc process to monetise flats, can only be initiated by the state and is only enjoyed by 4% of flats. 

This project attempts to stress the importance of providing public housing residents the same opportunites to their peers living in private homes in order for public housing flats to continue functioning as social equalisers. It manifests itself as a transitional housing project to facilitate the large potential scale of simultaneous renewal to provide universal lease renewal. 

Site Location

Sited at Marina Bay East Gardens with vistas to and from major tourist attractions, an expressway, and Marina Bay. The project sits on land currently used by the Marina Bay Golf Course with its lease ending by 2024., flipping its private use for public benefit in a highly visible area.   

A Changing Facade

As new residents move in after monetising their lease, they move in temporarily before moving on to their new flat. The building has to make visible this process in order to express the lease renewal process. Thus, the facade of the building changes as new homes are installed within, modular segment by segment.  This is envisioned to create a kind of  ‘wave-effect’ over time.

Housing Segments

The underpinning mechanism for the changing facade is a modular housing system based on segments. Each segment is a room, or part of a room, when connected creates a complete household based on HDB housing types. The different segments may have different volumes but all connect to a corridor spine. To move the segments into place, a system of rails, lifts, and automated push/pull bots are used with a large depot to store yet unused segments.


Elevation showing how segments would be installed or removed.

Section Perspective of a fully connected flat from segments.

Interior Perspective of Corridor with different connecting segments.

Section Perspective of a partially filled block.

Sectional Perspective

A digital billboard, supported by solar panels, on the roof provides additional information on the lease renewal process such as number of leases renewed tto date or the accumulated worth from monetisation. This supplements the facade which informs the viewer of the general scale and pace of lease renewal. 

The second floor is reserved entirely for the circulation of modules while the first floor has spaces for shops to support residential living. Around, there are spaces reserved for future artifacts taken from neighbourhoods affected by mass, simultaneous lease renewal, such as  the  animal playgrounds. 

View from Founder's Memorial

This view from the nearby, and soon to be built, Founder’s Memorial shows the emphasis placed on conveying information on the renewal process through the facade which will be seen not only from this perspective, but also from other high traffic areas in the Marina Bay area.