Is It Possible? Middle Class Envy of Public Housing Quality? Yes

outdoor fitness equipment for chin ups and other exercises
HDBFitnessCentre photo by Sloutsch is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
An outdoor fitness centre on the grounds of a public housing project in Singapore.

Affordablehousingaction.org operates out of an older mid-rise Toronto apartment building with large rooms and views over a park and lake. For all their desirable features, the apartments wrap around a beaten-earth central courtyard, convenient to the resident dogs and their owners (many) where they bark, sniff, pee, and poop to their heart’s content. (We’re speaking of the dogs alone, now.) All others, keep clear.

So what?

Leading up to an article filled with photographs linked below, we’re reflecting on the contrast between a reasonably well-kept free-market apartment building on one hand, and on the other a number of public housing buildings with courtyard details displayed in the photos.

Are we talking here about looking down into hellholes of garbage, debris and junkie needles scattered everywhere?

Far from it. In every way these courtyards appear superior to affordablehousingaction.org’s own. The are not only enjoyed by those with low and no incomes, but also by the middle class tenants who live in the public housing as well.

For this is Singapore, and the courtyards are not just grudging spaces that developers may be forced to include to bring by-law mandated light to windows. They are community spaces.

Check out a single idiosyncratic feature of a number of Singaporean public housing developments. Reflect on why social housing, properly designed, built and managed, could be an enjoyable middle class home. The attention to detail in the examples shown that they might well equal or better that found in modern so-called luxury condo living. Read and view more at designboom: jonathan tan captures singapore’s social housing tables from above

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