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Developers encouraged to explore open designs

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Fenceless condos could feature more connectivity

Singapore could see more fenceless condominiums in the near future, with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) nudging more developers to explore more open designs, The Straits Times understands.

These developments could feature more connectivity, boundaries of vegetation, and be strategically located to encourage the sharing of courtyards and public amenities, said industry players.

Such a move would come amid the success of fenceless neighbourhoods in cities such as Copenhagen, and the prevalence of fenceless condominiums in high-density places such as Hong Kong.

But here, it is likely to come up against concerns about security and desire for exclusivity.

When contacted, URA referred ST to a 2014 masterplan that stated that the upcoming Marina South area would be a "fenceless community".

So far, there is just one fenceless condominium - One North Residences in Buona Vista, which was completed in 2009.

The public can use its outdoor plaza and retail outlets on the ground floors of the residential blocks. Residents access lift lobbies to homes via cards.

Resident Sienna Song, 28, an MBA student, likes the condominium's "open" aesthetic.

She said: "This works because the location is quiet and not facing a (main) road. If it were, we would expect better security."

Since then, URA has issued a number of tenders for residential developments that stipulate more "visually porous" designs.

In the latest for a development in West Coast Vale on Friday, it stated its design "shall not be wall-like" on the sides facing existing condominiums but have a perimeter "softened through landscape treatment".

Some developers are exploring replacing traditional fences with gentler barriers.

Managing director of EL Development, Mr Lim Yew Soon, said Parc Riviera Condo, the company's upcoming development in West Coast Vale, will have terraced vegetation rather than a fence on the side facing the park connector.

"It will look porous. People can see through. But to climb into the development, that would still be a challenge."

Marina South, for one, would come with through-block links and offer a conducive setting for residents to "naturally" engage with the community.

Former URA urban planner Chua Yang Liang said a push for fenceless condominiums would be "a step in the right direction", and noted that a more "visually porous" boundary could make the environment appear more spacious.

But Professor Lily Kong, Singapore Management University's Provost and Lee Kong Chian Chair Professor of Social Sciences, said "gated communities connote exclusivity, safety and security", and as long as there is a price difference between condominiums and public housing, it would be difficult to see such condominiums taking off.