If residents use good interior design and arrange their furniture to create better storage options and a feeling of space, smaller flats do not have to mean a lower quality of living, said Housing Board chief executive Cheong Koon Hean on Thursday.
She was speaking at the HDB Professional Forum at the HDB Hub Auditorium, where architects, engineers and contractors met to exchange ideas. She was responding to a question from reporters about how HDB flats have become smaller over the years.
'You see this in many cities,' she said. 'In big cities, people do pay attention to how they do up the inside of the flat and it can be a very comfortable living environment.'
Mrs Cheong added that the amount of space an occupant gets has actually increased over the years, even though the flat sizes are smaller, as Singapore's household size has also decreased. She said that while big families were common in the past, families might now have only two to four members.
The average size of households went from 4.9 in 1989 to 3.5 last year. Calculations made with figures taken from the HDB website show that in 1989, with an average household size of five, a 103 sq m, four-room flat in Toa Payoh would have given each occupant about 21 sq m of space. In 2006, with an average household size of 3.5, a 91 sq m flat would have given each occupant 26 sq m.
The HDB-organised forum, with the theme Quality And Design In Construction, included presentations by architects of public housing projects who won the HDB Awards 2011 last week.
The HDB also launched a book titled Green Living By The Waters, a compilation of all 108 entries received for the Punggol Waterfront Housing Design competition started in December 2008. It was HDB's first-ever Housing Design competition.
All 108 entries are also on exhibition until Sunday at the HDB Hub Atrium in Toa Payoh, including the winning entry by Swiss architectural firm Group8asia, which partnered local firm Aedas.
The public housing project of 1,200 units is due to be launched by the middle of next year. Three blocks of flats, descending in height towards the waterway, will occupy the 4.9ha plot.