Farewell to central structural walls in HDB flats?

This article is more than 12 months old

HDB unveils plan for Woodleigh BTO project, where unobtrusive structural beams allow for customised layouts

Structural walls in the centre of a Housing Board (HDB) flat may soon be a thing of the past, allowing homeowners to make the most of the space.

At Woodleigh Glen in Bidadari, a Build-to-Order project to be ready in 2021, all 1,000 units will have their structural beams and columns tucked to the edges so that residents can reconfigure the internal space according to their needs.

The HDB will erect walls, but residents can hack these down at their own cost. Currently, most BTOs have structural walls, making it difficult to have a larger, open space.

This change can give more flexibility to homeowners.

For example, newlyweds can start off with a layout that gives them a larger bedroom or living room. As their family grows, they can erect a wall for a nursery.

Such flexi layouts were first seen in Skyville @ Dawson, whose residents began collecting their keys two years ago.

But they could soon be standard fare, with the HDB pledging to apply "urban design solutions that are found to be technically feasible, cost-effective and well-accepted by residents" to other housing precincts, the agency said yesterday.

The feature helped Woodleigh Glen clinch the Innovative Design Award in the "to-build" category of the annual HDB Design Awards.

Another feature - screens that stop rain from splashing into common corridors without compromising wind or light flow.

The project was designed by HDB's in-house team of planners, architects and engineers in the Building and Research Institute. Typically, the HDB ties up with developers and architects to design new homes.

Housewife Estee Chan, 44, said the flexi layout was what drew her to her four-room Skyville@Dawson unit:

"Although we did not change any of the original wall placements, I did not regret our choice after seeing some friends' homes that had unsightly corners and niches."

Architect Calvin Chua said the new configuration will allow homeowners to be more experimental with their living spaces.

"Homeowners can work with interior designers even before they receive their keys or choose their flats," he said.