Singapore Infopedia

by Lee, Meiyu


Pinnacle@Duxton is a public housing project at 1A Cantonment Road.1 It is the first 50-storey public housing project in Singapore, and also the first in the world with two sky bridges linking seven towers. The sky bridges create two layers of sky parks that offer panoramic views of the city. Resulting from the first international competition for public housing in Singapore, Pinnacle@Duxton is regarded as groundbreaking for redefining the concept of public housing with its unique design features.2

Pinnacle@Duxton was built at the 2.5-hectare Duxton Plain on Cantonment Road. This site was where Blocks 1 and 2, the first Housing and Development Board (HDB) rental flats, which were commissioned by the government in 1963, used to stand.3

As part of the government’s urban renewal strategy, the Urban Redevelopment Authority organised an International Architectural Design Competition in 2001 to commemorate the historical significance of the location.4 The competition called for an innovative design approach to high-density, high-rise public housing that would optimise land use while meeting the changing lifestyle needs and rising aspirations of residents. The design also had to be cost effective in order to meet the construction budget allocated for subsidised public housing.5

A total of 227 design entries from 32 countries were submitted for the competition. The prize eventually went to a Singapore-based architecture company, ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism, in collaboration with RSP Architects Planners and Engineers.6 The winning entry, “Sky Houses: Flying Green”, was praised for its simple yet effective design in incorporating and reinterpreting the existing landscape.7

The design inspiration for Pinnacle@Duxton stemmed from the idea of using “flow and eddies” as well as “strips and loops” to weave through the estate and form a network linking the tower blocks and the ground. This would then result in interactive spaces for the residents, while creating green pockets or pathways. The idea enabled the complete utilisation of the oddly shaped plot of land by allowing greater flexibility in the orientation of the flats, and was also applied to raise the ground level of the buildings so as to create parking spaces beneath it to fully utilise the tight space.8

Targeted at young couples, the 1,848 units are designed like condominium units. The seven tower blocks are linked with sky gardens at the 26th and 50th storeys, with exclusive entry rights for residents. Unique features include fitness stations, pavilions and benches in the green spaces. Facilities, such as a food court, childcare centre, basketball court and jogging track, are also conveniently located within the premises. An outdoor gallery showcases the historical significance of the site by tracing the outline of the original two buildings.9

The design concept leaves ample space for future developments and allows for flexibility in meeting the changing needs of residents. For each unit, residents can either contract or expand the living spaces by using light-weight wall placements. In addition, residents can choose among exterior facade treatments such as planter boxes, bays, bay windows, windows and balconies.10

Sale of flats
The flats were released for sale – with the tagline “The Peak of City Living” – under the HDB’s Build-to-Order scheme on 29 May 2004. Smaller flats measuring 93 to 97 sq m were priced from S$289,200 to S$380,900, while bigger ones measuring 105 to 108 sq m were priced between S$345,100 and S$439,400. Public response was overwhelming, with 3,149 applications received within one day for the first batch of 528 units released for sale. This prompted the HDB to release the remaining 1,320 units and extend the application deadline. Applications totalled 5,171. Balloting was subsequently done, with priority given to first-timers and married couples living with their parents or within 2 km of their parents. A relaunch of the remaining 111 units, with higher prices of S$545,000 to S$645,800, took place in September 2008. A total of 372 applications were received for the relaunch.11

Pinnacle@Duxton was completed in December 2009. It is generally recognised as a project that has redefined the stereotypical, mass-building image associated with public housing, and proven that public housing can provide high-quality living that is comparable with private developments. In recognition of the project’s design innovation and significance, in June 2010 the building was named Asia and Australasia’s “Best Tall Building” by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat. It also won the title of “World’s Best Housing Development” in the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona, Spain, in November 2010. That same month, Pinnacle@Duxton clinched the President’s Design Award, Singapore’s highest honour for excellent design.12

Lee Meiyu

1. “Background,” Singapore Tourism Board, accessed 24 December 2016.
2. “5 Interesting Facts about The Pinnacle@Duxton,” Straits Times, 7 August 2014. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
3. “5 Interesting Facts about The Pinnacle@Duxton”; Lim Yann Ling, “Life at the Top,” Straits Times, 20 October 2010, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “Competition to Build 50-Storey Flats,” Today, 8 August 2001, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Lydia Lim, “Duxton Plain Contest a First in Public Housing,” Straits Times, 8 August 2001, 8; Arthur Sim, “Moving Up to the Storey.” Straits Times, 18 August 2001, 6; Lydia Lim, “This Is the Future of Singapore’s Public Housing,” Straits Times, 1 May 2002, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “About,” The Pinnacle@Duxton, accessed 28 December 2016.
7. Cheong Suk-Wai, “The Pinnacle’s Architect on Top of the World,” Straits Times, 4 July 2004, 27. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Irene Tham, “Architects’ Pinnacle of Achievement,” Straits Times, 27 June 2010, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Tham, “Architects’ Pinnacle of Achievement.”
10. Kevin Tan, “Pinnacle@Duxton – One of a Kind,” Today, 19 June 2004, 18. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Lin Zhiqin, “Winning the HDB Lottery – The Pinnacle@Duxton,” Edge Property, 27 May 2015.
12. Pinnacle@Duxton, “Background.”

The information in this article is valid as of 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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