Saturday, December 13, 2008

$25m Punggol Makeover

Source : The Straits Times, Dec 13, 2008

Winning design to revive its heritage by capitalising on maritime setting

THINK water and you will have a good idea of the main theme running through the winning design for an ambitious $25 million makeover for Punggol.

The blueprint revealed yesterday aims to revive the coastal town's heritage as a fishing village by capitalising on its maritime setting.

The makeover will include a 10km cycling trail along the 4.2km waterway, a 'heartwave' wall with a mini waterfall, and a pedestrian 'kelong-like' bridge. -- PHOTOS: COURTESY OF HDB
There will be a 10km cycling trail in a rustic setting along the 4.2km waterway and a pedestrian 'kelong-like' bridge to recapture the old fishing days.

The waterway will also boast a coastal promenade and a host of water activities.

At the heart of the waterway in Punggol's town park will be a 'heartwave' wall boasting a mini waterfall.

Visuals on the wall will depict the history and development of Punggol from its early days to a 21st century town.

All this and more was unveiled yesterday by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan at the HDB Hub, where he announced the winner of the Punggol Waterway Landscape design contest launched in May.

Local firm Surbana International Consultants and its partner, Japanese firm Sen Inc, beat 10 local firms. Merit prizes were awarded to Arc Studio Architecture + Urbanism and Co-Design Architects.

Mr Johnny Wong, HDB's deputy director of building research, said the Housing Board was won over by Surbana's concept of incorporating Punggol's unique identity into the waterway's landscape.

Construction will be completed by 2010.

Mr Mah said the Punggol project is on schedule 'and has been progressing steadily even during this economic downturn'.

Since August last year, the HDB has launched more than 5,000 flats under its build-to-order (BTO) projects in Punggol. BTO developments are built only when a certain demand is met.

The HDB plans to offer about 3,000 flats for sale annually in Punggol, subject to demand. And by the end of 2011, there will be about 23,000 flats completed.

Mr Mah said that even with the slowdown, he expects 'sufficient take-up for these flats' as people are still getting married and young families are being formed.

The HDB is targeting the sale of the first site - a mixed commercial and residential development - to the private sector in mid-2010.

Mr Mah said there will be a demand for such sites by private developers in new towns if there is a critical mass of people living there.

'The main thing is to make sure the town itself is well populated...then the commercial developers will find it worthwhile,' he said.

Mr Mah also said that Punggol flats will remain affordable for all income groups.

About 500 rental units are being built, and about 550 of the 5,000 Punggol flats launched recently were two- and three- room flats, which cater to lower-income families. The rest will be four- and five-room flats.

Mr Mah also launched a separate design competition for Punggol's Waterfront public housing yesterday.

Architects can design a masterplan for a 26.6ha housing district west of Punggol's town centre. Shortlisted firms will go on to design in more detail a 4.9ha site along the Punggol Waterway.

The HDB plans to offer these waterfront homes by mid-2010.

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