HDB Republic: Housing, Homeownership and Heritage in Singapore


Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats house over 80% of the island state’s population. How does the Board keep up with housing demands and balance development pressures while preserving the nation’s built heritage and sense of place?

From its economy to its education system, Singapore leads in Asia. And one should not forget one very remarkable aspect of the country’s development: its public housing system.

Established in 1960 to address the island’s severe housing crisis, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has since built up one of the most extensive public housing systems in the world, with over a million flats across 23 townships and three estates1.

“HDB was set up amid an acute shortage of proper housing for the population,” says an HDB spokesman. “At that time, many were living in unhygienic slums and crowded squatter settlements.

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