See & Do

More than just HDB: See Singapore’s HDB Flats in a New Light with this Exhibition

Dwell:ing by Shin-young Park. An installation of 100 photographs of Singapore’s public housing.

If you ever thought Singapore’s HDB flats are ugly or boring, artist Shin-young Park’s new exhibit will prove you wrong. Dwell:ing gives a fresh perspective of public housing in Singapore, and surprisingly, it’s a lot more colourful than anyone of us would have expected!

We all know that Singapore wasn’t always competing amongst top players for most liveable location in the world. In fact, less than 70 years ago, Singapore had one of the worst housing shortages in the world. The British Housing Committee even use the word “slums” to describe our situation… ouch.

It’s easy to forget the city-island’s humble beginnings sometimes. But when you look at Singapore 70 years ago compared to the Singapore today, you’ll feel awe-struck at the immense progression—on top of that sense of pride and patriotism, of course.

When Singapore achieved self-governance in 1959, one of the biggest problems was people were living in squatter settlements or cramping together in tiny shophouses. There was a major shortage of housing. So the obvious solution was to build more houses, right? But with a limited land area and a growing population, it wasn’t a problem the government could solve overnight.

This sparked the idea for HDB flats. High-rise, high density and low-cost buildings seemed like the way to go. The government originally intended them as homes for low-income families, but look at how many Singaporean families live in HDB flats now! It’s most likely that you too live in a HDB unit too. You might even own one.

It might not seem significant to you that over 80% of Singaporeans have purchased their own public housing flats, but no other country has such a unique housing landscape. Which might be why Shin-young Park, a Korean-born New Zealander, found HDBs to be more intriguing than many of us would.

Park makes use of two mediums in her solo exhibition: a hundred photos of HDB flats around the country, and metal and paper layers of print works to depict natural and man-made objects.

Held at the Visual Arts Centre from 6th to 8th June and the LUDO Gallery from 10th to 30th June 2016, Dwell:ing is free to enter for all. Check out LUDO Gallery’s Facebook page for more details.

Since it’s also the school holidays, this might be a good opportunity to teach your kids a little thing or two about Singapore’s history so they, too, can appreciate how far and fast we have come as a nation.

Here are some sneak preview from the exhibition:

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Credit: LUDO Gallery

 

*The writer is a Singaporean living in Melbourne.

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