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Developing expressions to give identity and elegance to estates

SINGAPORE: Pulling into the foyer at Waterway Cascadia, you would be forgiven for thinking it is a private condominium.

The name of this public housing estate in Punggol is emblazoned across the foyer wall. Its double-storey car park is well-camouflaged. Instead, visitors are greeted by a sprawling green space that sits atop it. Upcoming executive condo launches include Anchorvale Lane EC, Rivercove EC while existing ones include
Parc Life , Signature at Yishun, Brownstone EC, Visionaire EC, Inz Residence, The Criterion EC and Northwave EC, The Terrace EC, The Vales EC, Hundred Palms Residences EC, Sol Acres EC and The Bellewoods EC. Rivercove Residences floor plans and Rivercove Residences EC details will be available shortly.

This community space, surrounded by eight tastefully designed blocks containing 1,009 units, is dotted with lush flora, fitness corners and ample shelters and benches.
Waterway Cascadia, designed by ADDP Architects, is a Build-to-Order project launched in July 2012. This year, it clinched the Housing and Development Board (HDB) Design Award in the housing category.

A total of 12 HDB Design Awards and 12 HDB Construction Awards were given out this year to recognise industry partners for building quality homes. Other winners include Hougang Meadow (HDB Construction Award) and the upcoming Bedok Beacon (Innovative Design Award).

HDB’s director of landscape and design Brian Low said Waterway Cascadia is a good example of “new generational" public housing with greenery and open spaces.
Referring to the blocks' exterior, he added: “You can see the scale of the architecture as they try to frame up the buildings to make it more special, and behind they have cascaded the design so it drops down to eight storeys before it opens up to a beautiful view of the waterway."

To that end, the blocks are fitted with frames resembling white boxes and scattered with recessed balconies at regular intervals. In addition, their heights are staggered to maximise views of Punggol Waterway. About a third of units there enjoy views of the waterway.

Commenting on the design, 2017 HDB Awards jury panellist and architect Tan Kok Hiang said: “It is now a given for new HDB designs to have well-connected and beautiful community spaces. Another important aspect is developing expressions that give identity and elegance to the estates.”

But Waterway Cascadia is not only pretty. The estate boasts eco-friendly features like bio-retention basins that treat and regulate rainwater runoffs and a centralised dual refuse chute. These have earned it the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) Greenmark Gold Plus, the highest green rating for public housing.

Following in its footsteps is Keat Hong Pride in Choa Chu Kang, another HDB Design Award winner this year. Designed by Surbana Jurong Consultants and launched in May 2012, the centrepiece of this 1,143-unit estate is a vast roof garden above its car park. The garden, which is longer than a football field, contains playgrounds, pavilions and fitness corners.

Keat Hong Pride also bagged the HDB Construction Award after achieving a Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS) score of more than 90, above the national average of 88.7. CONQUAS is a BCA indicator that measures the quality of buildings.

“It is very encouraging that HDB continues to champion construction innovation and quality, setting higher benchmarks in quality standards each year,” said HDB Construction Awards jury panellist and Singapore Institute of Architect's First Vice-President Seah Chee Huang.

“This will help to significantly elevate the quality of our public housing and infrastructure, ultimately ensuring better quality homes and environments for our community,” Mr Seah said.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee will give out the awards at a ceremony on Wednesday.

When it comes to building new estates, HDB looks at "basic design principles" like how blocks are oriented in terms of wind flow and sunlight, its director of landscape and design Brian Low said.

"HDB living is about naturally lit, naturally ventilated environments," he said. "Because of that, we don’t want to rely on a lot of mechanical means to achieve comfort. Basically, all these features have to be passive."

Beyond design, however, residents are asking for facilities like ATMs and convenience stores in new estates. And that is something HDB is working towards, Mr Low said.

“In the new projects, we are putting more and more facilities that are commercial, (for example), coffee shops and shops,” he added.

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