Behind the Block : Singapore’s Public Housing Story

With more than a million flats spread across the island,  Singapore has taken the concept of public housing to anything unlike any other city. 

LIVINGSPACE is a fantastic gallery to have a understand Singapore public housing story through the lens of the Housing and Development Board (HDB). HDB is the government agency that is responsible for public housing in Singapore. Why is this important? Today, more than 80% of Singapore’s resident population live in HDB flats. Of this, over 90% own their homes. This means Singapore has one of the highest home-ownership rates in the world, and also one of the world’s best public housing schemes. If you are interested to find out more about understanding social housing and land-use planning from the agency responsible for it, do not give this gallery a miss.

How to get there:

The easiest way to get there is to take the subway (or the MRT as we call it) to “Toa Payoh” (red line). When you arrive at the station, look for Exit A: HDB Hub.

Toa Payoh MRT Exit A

Take the escalator up. You will see this: 

Toa Payoh interchange

Keep walking straight till you see “HDB HUB”:


Make a right and continue walking straight (you should see the sandwich chain “SUBWAY”) on your right

Subway at HUB Hub

You would see a lobby :

HDB Hub lobby

Look for this sign pointing to the entrance of “LIVINGSPACE” and take the stairs down. You have arrived!


I recommend to start your visit from the beginning of the gallery: 

LivingSpace entrance

The gallery is broken down into 6 themes (Journey, Plan, Eco, Create, Share, Future) encompassing different aspects to public housing story in Singapore.

It starts with “Journey” which is the story of how public housing in Singapore came to be and the housing crisis during the 1950s-1960s. It also showcases the vision of Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew and the team who were charged with clearing the squatters and slums with the resettlement of residents into low cost state-built housing.

HDB LivingSpace Journey

This moves to “Plan”. This is interesting to see how meticulous planning, innovation and creativity goes into building places and social spaces for the people. This is a must for the urban-planning and/or architecture geeks/enthusiast!

HDB Living Space PlanHDB Living Space Plan

Fun fact: HDB developments are planned with community facilities in mind. Most HDB towns have their own schools, shops, recreational facilities like playground / outdoor gym, and often a hawker centre or wet market.   

We then move on to the “Eco” gallery where we discover how HDB develops quality living environments that are smart and sustainable.

HDB Living Space Eco

In the “Create” section, this explores the various principles that public housing scheme is built upon. Learn how homes and communities are shaped through forward-looking policies and programmes, while in the “Share” gallery, you can “experience” the vibrancy of the heartlands and the people that live in them.  

HDB Living Space Future

The last part of the gallery “Future” invites us to ponder what might the future of public housing look like in Singapore. 

The gallery ends off in the theatre showcasing “Tengah“, Singapore’s newest HDB town. It is an immersive experience, with a multimedia light show showing its futuristic masterplan that includes going car-lite, community farms and a centralised cooling system. 

HDB Living Space Tengah

Useful info to know

Opening hours:

Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 5:00pm

Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

Recommend amount of time: 30mins – 2 hours

Admission :  free


  1. Shirley

    May I know when is the gallery re-opened?

    • P.S.

      Hi, the gallery is still closed at the moment due to COVID. Hopefully it will open soon.

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