'Modern kampung' to launch in July BTO

SINGAPORE - Homes in Woodlands' upcoming "modern kampung" - the first of its kind - will be launched in this July's Build-to-Order exercise.

To be completed in 2017, the all-in-one Kampung Admiralty includes two blocks of Housing Board studio apartments, centres for medicine, childcare and eldercare, and shops.

Seniors who live in Woodlands, or whose married children live there, will get priority for the 100 or so flats. Prices are not yet available but studio apartments ranged from $83,000 to $125,000 in recent launches. These flats, on 30-year leases, are designed for elderly residents. "This will be their retirement

kampung," Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the project.

In an interview last year, he had said that more such integrated buildings would be built if this one is successful.

Buildings that combine housing and retail, for instance, are not new. Back in the 1980s, Bras Basah Complex featured HDB flats above a shopping complex.

But this is the first time such a project has involved the collective effort of eight government agencies, such as the Ministry of Health, National Environment Agency and Early Childhood Development Agency, and put so many different facilities under one roof.

On the ground floor is a sprawling plaza where residents can take part in community events or shop.

One floor up is a 900-seater hawker centre.

Admiralty Medical Centre, run by Alexandra Health System, takes up the third and fourth floors.

"For those who are elderly and frail or home-bound, our health-care staff will be able to use the medical centre as a base to reach out to them," said group chief executive officer Liak Teng Lit, adding the centre will also reach out to residents to encourage healthy living.

Higher up, there are eldercare and childcare centres around a community park and even a farm where residents can harvest their own vegetables in the community farm.

The housing blocks, which rise from the fourth to 11th floors, have their sixth floor set aside for a recreational centre.

It will be not just "another shopping mall or civic centre" but a centre of community and bonding, said Mr Khaw, adding that the name Kampung Admiralty was chosen "to symbolise the spirit that we hope to forge".

Even the greenery, such as rambutan and kaffir lime trees, were picked because of their links to village life.

Mr Yap Chin Beng, deputy CEO (Estates) of HDB, hopes residents will "take active ownership of the various community spaces to interact with their neighbours, recreate the cohesive kampung spirit and forge a strong sense of identity and belonging".

Admiralty residents are already looking forward to the new complex.

Mr Raju Kaliyamoorthy, a 48-year-old chemist, said seeing medical specialists would be more convenient. "Currently, we have to go to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (in Yishun)", he explained.

Cleaner Kee Leng Mong, 59, meanwhile hopes the food at the hawker centre would be cheaper than that at a nearby food court. But he has no plans to move into one of the upcoming studio apartments.

"I'd like to leave my flat to my son."

An exhibition about the project, held at its site, will run until Friday.

BRINGING BACK THE KAMPUNG DAYS

Ahead of yesterday's ground-breaking ceremony for Kampung Admiralty, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan blogged about the passion of the people working on the project.

He shared an internal memo from National Parks Board planners suggesting plants with edible fruit and colourful foliage, and those which can attract birds and butterflies.

It also suggested plants which "would appeal to the memory of our older residents of the different ethnic groups". One example given was the bael fruit, as it was once planted by the Indian community for medicinal purposes.

The memo explained: "The aim should be to help them (residents) relive the kampung days, and also to show the younger generation what a kampung was like."

Calling the memo a "delight to read", Mr Khaw said he was confident that "the deep knowledge, dedication and passion of our planners will steer this project to greater heights".

janiceh@sph.com.sg

caiwj@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 27 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.