Singapore Infopedia

by Cornelius, Vernon, Anasuya Soundararajan


Tampines estate is located in the eastern region of Singapore.1 Since its beginnings as a farming village, Tampines has seen massive development in recent decades to become one of Singapore’s modern new towns. Tampines is also a popular retail and leisure destination in Singapore. The estate has been earmarked to grow further in the coming years with new housing, shopping facilities, more parkland and other amenities in Tampines North.2

The Tampenus River in Philip Jackson’s 1828 map of Singapore is believed to be the earliest record of Tampines. The river probably derived its early name from the tall tampines (also spelt tempinis) trees that grew abundantly in the area.3 Tampines is the Malay name for the Riau ironwood tree (streblus elongatus) that is heavily harvested for its timber.4 Tampines Road had formerly been a “bridle path” that was later converted into a cart tract in 1864. The road, which extended towards Sungei Tampines (Tampines River), derived its name from the river.References point to Tampines Village being located at the seventh milestone on Upper Serangoon Road.

Tampines used to be a farming and fishing village with coconut palms, rubber and fruit trees, streams and ponds. Livestock and poultry rearing and vegetable farming were carried out on a modest scale, and zinc and attap houses were the predominant accommodation. Up till the 1970s, sand quarries existed in Tampines. A sizeable number of residents were employed by these sand quarries and held occupations such as lorry drivers, attendants and workers.7

Tampines New Town
The construction of Tampines New Town began in 1979, marking the transformation of rural Tampines to a modern satellite town.8 Around 3,720 villagers were resettled to make way for the infrastructure works.The attap and zinc houses gave way to low-rise flats, recreational parks and retail shops in the town centre and its precincts.10 Tampines was the first town to be developed in the with a precinct planning concept. The first housing precinct was built at Tampines Neighbourhood 2. The town centre boasted a unique hourglass shape design.11

As the government acquired more land, Tampines entered a new phase of development with improved amenities and upgraded living conditions in 1984. The flats also took on a new design, with 75 percent of the HDB flats having mixed dwelling units of three-, four- and five-room flats in a single block of flats.12

In October 1992, Tampines Town won the United Nations’ World Habitat Award. The award recognises innovative and successful human settlements. Tampines Town has been designated as a regional centre since the early 1990s and is of the most developed regional centres serving the eastern part of Singapore today.13

In 2011, Tampines Eco Geen opened its doors showcasing different types of natural habitats such as freshwater wetlands and a secondary rainforest.14

Tampines North
The Tampines North development area was launched as part of HDB’s “Future Homes, Better Lives” development plan in 2013. Tampines North took advantage of its existing greenery and proximity to the Tampines regional centre to create an attractive living environment for residents. In 2014, HDB launched Tampines Green Ridges, with 1,900 flats in Tampines North. Depending on the housing demand, Tampines North is expected to be further developed.15

Our Tampines Hub
Officially launched on 6 August 2017, Our Tampines Hub is Singapore’s first integrated community and lifestyle hub, containing a variety of sports facilities, a regional library, hawker centre, public service centre, arts theatre and other facilities under one roof.16 From ideation to completion, residents were involved and consulted in the entire process. It was envisioned as a “hub by the residents for the residents”.17

As part of the efforts to transform Tampines into Singapore’s first “eco-town”, an outdoor linear garden was launched at Tampines Hub in February 2021. The garden has a water feature, speakers that play recordings of birds chirping, and close to 40 types of flowers and herbs. With features that engage the five senses, the garden will serve as a therapy space for elderly residents with dementia.18


Vernon Cornelius-Takahama and Anasuya Soundararajan

1. “Land Area and Dwelling Units by Town,” Government of Singapore, accessed December 2020.

2. Urban Redevelopment Authority, Tampines (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority website, 2013).
3. Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 299. (Call no. RSING 959. 57 DUN)
4. S. Ramachandra, Singapore Landmarks, Past and Present (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1961), 23. (Call no. RSING 959.57 RAM)
5. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2004), 367. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
6. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore, 299.
7. Lim Swee Lian et al., eds., 30 Years of Tampines (Singapore: Tampines Constituency Sports Association, 1988), 31. (Call no. RSING 959.57 THI)
8. Lim et al., 30 Years of Tampines, 31.
9. “Tampines,” Housing and Development Board, accessed December 2020.
10. Lim et al., 30 Years of Tampines, 31.
11. Housing and Development Board, “Tampines.”
12. Lim et al., 30 Years of Tampines, 78.

13. Housing and Development Board, “Tampines.”
14. Housing and Development Board, “Tampines.”
15. Housing and Development Board, “Tampines.”
16. Housing and Development Board, “Tampines.”
17. Charissa Yong, “PM Lee Opens Our Tampines Hub, Singapore’s First Integrated Community and Lifestyle Hub,” Straits Times, 6 August 2017. (From Newslink via NLB’s eResources website)

18. Cara Wong, “Tampines Launches Garden Designed to Stimulate 5 Senses,” Straits Times, 21 February 2021. (From Newslink via NLB’s eResources website)

The information in this article is valid as at December 2020 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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