Siti Nor Amira
Culture of Inequality - Through the Singapore Public Housing Landscape

Thesis Supervisor: ​Richard Ho

The culture of inequality is aggravated by the overarching framework of meritocracy in Singapore which has framed inequality as a necessaary by-product of its ‘success’. It negligently reinforces the necessity of meritocracy for economic progress; that for society to get ahead, some must suffer. The current solutions offered by Housing Development Board (HDB) marginalises the said inidividuals as a result of policies, eligibility criteria and nature of schemes. 

As such, this thesis seeks to reconstruct the current framework of home-ownership assistance for the low-income households by: (i) creating an entire ecosystem where everyone can come together (ii) empowering the low-income households (iii) providing opportunities for symbiotic relationship through a micro-economy. This thesis is an impetus to gradually mend the divide that low-income demographic experiences with the society. By utilising existing resources such as vacant schools as a platform, it seeks to empower the households and counter the culture of inequality in Singapore. 

Overall Site (former Bedok North SS)

Through the application of adaptive reuse, this thesis proposes to capitulate on Singapore’s existing network of resources such as vacant buildings, as a means to tackle this shortage of housing for low-income individuals. 

Research puts Bedok at the highest deficit of rental units where the demand of rental units is 4 times its suply. This was the most compelling reason why Bedok North Secondary School was chosen. 

Play Area

The play area serves as an informal platform where interaction betwen the diferent comunities or within the residential community can occur. It helps to externalise the social activities beyond the confinement of residential spaces to demarcate boundaries of work, play and live spaces.

Small scale activities have been carefully curated along the main ground level public thoroughfare to instigate / increase chance encounters. Having an expansive public courtyard at the lower levels constantly filled with people and activity amplifies the sense of belonging and ownership of spaces.

Environmental Stewardship

Tapping into the established tourism platform, the proposal aims to lift both displaced community and contaminated site as a new form of life (socially and ecologically) through the means of eco-tourism in different phases.

The Marketplace & Garden 

Within the garden area and residential sites, community farming is introduced. The provision of external private facilities like farming empowers residents, nudging them to partake in community-driven intiatives. These spaces aim to equip householdsto help stimulate their growth.

The Marketplace serves as one of the interventions in the masterplan to breakdown the boundary between existing community and low-income families. It serves as a precursor to the integration to the existing community. These spaces are crafted to allow for organic interactions.

Adaptive & New Build Residential

Many outdoor spaces were externalised to heighten community interations in an effort to distinguish work, play and live spaces. Here, the floor plan talks about the idea of a unit household that is centered around the notion of compactness and functionality.

Households will feel a sense of ownership to their home as they are better equipped to live in stability without the constant fear of losing their house. On the outside, communal activities like home bakery and urban farming are included to entice them to come out of their units, unlike the current units.

New Build Residential

A central circulation core conects the two residential slab-blocks by linkbridges every two floors. As this core is the main mode of circulation, it provides the opportunity for chance encounters and neighbourly banter. 

Yet, its openness reinforces an atmosphere of public surveillance which helps to mitigate inappropriate behaviour and mischief. This residential rental typology seeks to redefine the otherwise austere and static rental scheme that low-income families are well privy to.

Section highlighting possibilities of adapting vacant schools

This project can help to rehabilitate the lifestyles of low-inncome households through a non-invasive and responsible initiative, all while being sustainably conscious to the built environment and existing peripheral communities.

In conclusion, this thesis is an impetus to gradualy mend the divide that low-income households experience with society, by providing a platform to  empower these households and counter the culture of inequality.

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