3rd – 6th April 2018

Grand Hyatt Hotel | Singapore

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1) As technology is rapidly changing, please elaborate on the current state of the affordable housing industry?

There are many ways that new technologies can impact affordable housing design and its industry. Firstly, the methodology of construction develops to become more efficient and more economic. It widens the design possibilities for pre-cast elements, abundantly used in affordable housing in Singapore.

Secondly, new technology can lead to “smarter” homes that bring more comfort to the user. However, this is still limited as we are talking about affordable housing and not condominium projects.

Finally, new technologies help us as real project tools to increase the sustainability of our affordable housing. These technologies however should be integrated from the stage of conception, in the early moments of the design. This allows us to avoid the use of sustainability as a “gadget” or added on “feature”.

2) In your opinion, how affordable is affordable for the low-income groups to be able to live in such homes? 

It is difficult for us as designers to answer that question. From what we can observe from the functioning of the HDB we see a lot of effort to keep the prices low. But of course there is the need to address the wishes and aspirations of the inhabitants who are looking for better and better homes every year.

3) How would you address the current challenges of affordable housing? 

The challenges on our sides are quite clear and orientated from 3 different angles, if you assume that functionality is a must. Firstly; how to create definable identities for these housing projects to create the sense of community and belonging. Especially in this context of high density in Singapore. 

Secondly, considering what affordable housing can generate for the city in terms of open and non-gated areas that extend the city’s connectivity.

Lastly, is questioning the diversity that should be implement within the affordable housing estates to generate greater variety of experience in the heart of the community life. All these challenges are tackled in G8A’s practice but for sure the real push should come from the client’s side.

4) How does the development of a long term and sustainable housing cater to the needs of rapid urbanisation? 

The two first points of question 3) will insure and address part the challenges that rapid urbanisation brings. Additionally, is addressing how affordable housing can relate to greenery and how far the buildings can merge with the landscape. This will also address some points of the density challenges.

5) How does affordable housing translate to providing better opportunities for the city and its inhabitants? 

The smooth, barrier-free connections that integrate affordable housing as part of the city multiplies experiences for all the city’s inhabitants. Affordable housing must be seen as an extension of the greater urban context and not as divided and closed estates.

6) Why is it important to cultivate a green and sustainable mindset in developing affordable homes?

For Singapore affordable housing is 80-85% of all residential options, so by influence if affordable housing is green and sustainable Singapore also becomes green and sustainable. Of course, we should use the example of affordable housing, but it must also extend to the commercial and private development of Singapore.

7) As modern lifestyle preferences are constantly evolving, how are you able to balance the financial aspect to build affordable homes and yet strive to cater to these changing preferences that are prone to have higher costs in construction? 

This is a recurrent question when designing affordable housing, but as architects we try to look at what part of the concept of the project is and what is not needed or what seems superficial. This allows us to reduce to the essence each project. “Less is more” remains one of our principles.

8) In your opinion, what would be the future trends for constructing affordable homes?

The upcoming challenges for affordable housing in Singapore is to find solutions for a mixed pattern city that creates synergy between affordable and private housing as well as commercial and community activities. It goes beyond the affordable housing projects themselves englobing the entire Singaporean environment.

© 2018 marcus evans

Speaker Spotlight on: 

Manuel Der Hagopian

G8A Architecture and Urban Planning, Singapore

Access to affordable and adequate housing has become a key concern for many low and middle-income households around the world. This conference is a must-attend gathering which provides a perfect platform for anyone working in social and affordable housing to address many of the critical and strategic challenges facing the housing sector around the world.

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