Three parts to Dawson’s new face

THE public first got wind of the ambitious vision last August, when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of giving the 56-year-old Dawson Estate a new face.

Now, the surgeons who will design its new face have been appointed, and flats could go on sale by next year.

Construction is expected to start six months after the sale and the new generation of flats would be ready by around 2014, said Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education, yesterday.

She added that since the conceptual designs from the three architects invited to give shape to the ideas had been well-received by the public, all three – SCDA Architects, WOHA Architects and Surbana International Consultants – would be appointed as consultants for the Dawson project.

The rejuvenation of Dawson Estate is part of an initiative to transform public housing into vibrant homes for Singapore. Apart from Dawson, Yishun and Punggol have also been earmarked for major facelifts.
Dawson Estate – formed by the merger of Princess and Duchess estates – was first developed in the 1950s by the Singapore Improvement Trust.

Last September, the Housing Development Board (HDB) commissioned the three architects to come up with design ideas for Dawson Estate and showcased these concepts in an exhibition called “Remaking Our Heartland”.

The majority of the 11,000 Singaporeans who visited the exhibition gave the designs a thumbs up.
As a result, the HDB decided to appoint all the three architects to regenerate Dawson Estate.

SCDA and WOHA will work on the next stage of the estate’s detailed design as the sites they would be working on are now vacant.

SCDA and WOHA told Today that they are already talking to landscapers, quantity surveyors, structural and mechanical engineers.

The HDB will appoint Surbana at a later date when the site that the firm would be working on is ready for development in 2011.

Under SCDA’s concept, residents can look forward to flats with tall ceilings in the living room. These lofts are built next to smaller flats which can function as “granny units” should the owners of the bigger flat decide to buy over the smaller unit.

Other features include a central staircase with solar panels which face the West and cascading landscaped terraces. Around 800 units will come under the SCDA’s design.

WOHA’s design is based on a concept of a “kampung in the sky” by creating a 10-storey column as the heart of each village, overlooking a village square.

“This village square has community gardens, study areas, barbecue areas and gathering spaces which will allow people to get to know the other 60 to 70 households in their village,” said Mr Richard Hassell, WOHA’s founding director.

Surbana plans to stretch a park six storeys upwards with ramps covered with greenery.

It will meander in a figure-of-eight shape around the twelve 48-storey blocks. The site includes the old Queenstown town centre.

But with construction costs going up, will all these features and amenities be included?

Mr Chan Soo Khian, SCDA’s founding principal and design director, said the firm would stick to its design and “it is up to HDB” how it wants to price these units.

Mr Chan, however, said there is a possibility that not all features – such as solar panels – will be included since they “are an economic issue”.

WOHA’s Mr Hassell said it would be working very closely with the HDB to achieve Dawson’s expected standard “at a reasonable market price”.

The HDB is inviting all Singaporeans with fond memories of Dawson Estate to contribute old photos, postcards, cinema tickets and souvenirs commemorating the estate at its “Transforming Our Dawson” exhibition, which is being held at the HDB Hub until Aug 10.

Meanwhile, another first step in remaking Singapore’s heartland was taken, when 94.1 per cent of voters in a Yishun precinct said “yes” to the new Home Improvement Programme. The nine blocks are the first to come under this scheme.

Source : Today – 31 Jul 2008

COMMENTS