Ahead of the upcoming 8th Annual Affordable Housing Projects conference this April, we spoke to Manuel Der Hagopian Partner & Co-founder of group8asia, Singapore. He will be addressing "Pushing Boundaries Of Sustainable Mass Housing Design In A Tropical Climate: A Case Study on the Punggol Waterway Terraces" on Day One of the conference, Stream Two: Construction Excellence and Productivity.
1) What are the community benefits generated from affordable housing?
Community needs must always be at the core of affordable design, this will generate spaces that will be well used and looked after by residents. It should be designed to seamlessly flow into the existing urban context, as opposed to be segregated like a private condominium, enhancing a powerful connection to the city. Other benefits can include mixed program areas, social facilities, commercial cluster and the Common green area that are all centered around community.
2) What are some of the models of successful affordable housing that has already been implemented?
Over the past 50 years Singapore has had a rich history in successful affordable housing design. We can still see a lot of early HDB models that have cultivated qualities of strong identity and community spirit. These are great points of reference for emerging prototypes like Skyville or Waterway Terraces, which introduce new strategies addressing density that is not only vertical but also horizontal.
3) How do you tackle the challenges of integrating land use and urban development policies to be more responsive to current realities such as the issue of and scarcity and growing population?
Scarcity of land and the growing population are two issues that need not hinder the design process but actually allow us push traditional boundaries. As architects, we must integrate these fundamentals into the creative process from the very start, not as an afterthought. We don’t want to see these constrains as negative but as generators of valuable qualities, e.g. density can enhance community spirit if it is properly integrated. Of course, we should be open to new hybrid solutions and think out of the box as traditional responses are irrelevant in the realities we face today.
4) How are you able to properly balance the financial aspect to build affordable houses and yet striving to cater to changes in the modern lifestyle preferences that would be prone to higher costs to construct?
At group8asia we think a lot about the resident, how they will use their personal space and interact with the whole development. This design process is essential in discovering what the modern user wants and needs. In most cases, flexible usable space with a good climate response rank the highest. These are creatively achievable even on a tight budget.
5) Why is cultivating a green and sustainable mindset in residential communities aid in the development of affordable housing?
As we make leaps and bounds in sustainable design, we have a responsibly to also share that knowledge with whom we design for. For the resident, their “home” is a place of sanctuary where they live and build memories. Helping them understand their environment is key to them understating the importance of sustainability. Therefore, architecture should be inspiring and communicative.
6) Please elaborate on what is needed for developers and government representatives to take into account in terms of being able to efficiently meet the growing demands for affordable housing.
This is a worldwide concern and overpopulated counties are most at risk as the demand for affordable housing will intensify so too will the need for cleaver sustainable solutions. First developers and governments must involve architects, designers and engineers at the very start of the process. Secondly, they need to be open to new solutions and be able to invest in prototypes for tomorrow. Finally, developers and government representatives need to be courageous!
To catch Manuel at the upcoming 8th Annual Affordable Housing Projectsconference or for more information, please contact Mary-Anne Loui at MaryA@marcusevanskl.com
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