High life at low cost

ARCHITECT Tan Cheng Siong has come up with a grand scheme that he says could triple Singapore’s land space by creating a vast network of elevated decks.

This vision, which he calls “Skyland”, involves elevated decks of about 20m wide or more, built to link MRT stations above the rails and available for use by cyclists and pedestrians.

Affordable homes could also be built on the decks, said Mr Tan, who designed Singapore’s first condominium (Pandan Valley) and its first super high-rise (Pearl Bank Apartments).

This vast project would free up enough space to ensure there is no need to increase plot ratios or even have people living underground to cope with the rising population, Mr Tan told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

“We have all this space in the sky, which can provide Singapore with low-cost land for the next 50, 100 years.”

He has been displaying his vision at the inaugural architecture exhibition ArchXpo at Marina Bay Sands over the past three days.

He said the authorities are aware of his plans but will, of course, require time to consider the massive proposal.

Under his plan, the Government would repossess HDB land in more mature estates where old flats would need replacing.

Above these areas, the Government would build elevated decks to link MRT stations, or community malls. The cost, he believes, would be at about $100 million for every 1km, or $60 per sq ft (psf).

This is money that a central authority – likely the Housing Board – may recoup by tendering the newly created space to developers, at about $100 psf.

Citizens may buy a 1,000 sq ft plot to build their home at about $150 psf, with a renovation budget of $50 psf. This would bring the total cost to $200 psf, or $200,000 per 1,000 sq ft unit.

The land below the decks may be re-zoned for enterprise use or communal, low-rise facilities for sports, schools or other amenities.

In this way, business space could be more affordable for small and medium-sized enterprises as well, Mr Tan said.

He added that with the safe separation of cyclists and pedestrians from cars, Singaporeans could also save on travel costs.

So instead of having super high-rises, Mr Tan hopes these homes will be a maximum of 50m to 80m high, or 15 to 20 storeys.

He said a good place to start would be older HDB towns such as Serangoon, Ang Mo Kio or Toa Payoh.

However, he envisions linking up the largely residential north as a “north constellation of hubs”.

Under his proposed master plan, the green spaces in central Singapore could be preserved, as there would no longer be any need to eat into them.

Mr Tan also has plans for some of the major trade and communications infrastructure.

He proposes what he calls the “south world corridor” – which includes the airport and ports and will take time to evolve – “built to engage the world and present the best with tourist icons”.

Additions he is suggesting include V-shaped office towers, which would allow more open space below, and a Marina South extension to Gardens by the Bay which will again leave ground space for public use.

“We built a city with low- cost housing. I’m sure we can build a future with low-cost land,” said Mr Tan.

 

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