The Housing Board (HDB) town of Punggol has notched several firsts as a model new town and now it can count its own visitor centre as among them.
To open in the later part of this year, the three-storey visitor centre in Punggol Town Plaza will house a gleaming showcase of the area's development and boast a top-floor deck with a panoramic view of the Punggol Waterway.
The centrepiece, on the ground floor, will be an interactive 3D scale model of Punggol Town, with features such as key public housing projects, its transportation network as well as greenery and water bodies that can be lit up at the touch of a button.
Touchscreens will offer more information about the town, its iconic projects, such as the eco-friendly Treelodge@Punggol, and the upcoming smart and sustainable housing district in Punggol Northshore.
The centre will be open to the public as well as for organised visits.
The HDB called a tender last month for its design and development. It closed last week.
In response to queries, the HDB said the visitor centre would "enable residents and visitors to learn about the transformation of Punggol - from its early days as a fishing village to a sustainable waterfront town".
It said that as the youngest HDB town, Punggol was "a good opportunity" for the Housing Board to "demonstrate sustainable urban planning and design, green technology adoption and active community partnership".
For instance, Punggol Northshore is slated to be Singapore's first smart and sustainable public housing district.
The "smart-enabled" homes will come with abundant digital infrastructure such as data ports so that home owners can easily install smart home features if needed, and public areas will have features such as sensor-controlled lighting.
The town has more than 40,000 units of public housing, and will have 96,000 homes when development is complete.
MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Sun Xueling said having a centre such as this would "chronicle Singapore's housing journey".
"I am delighted Punggol has been chosen to showcase this," she said.
"I hope the visitor centre will present a vision of what the creative cluster in Punggol will look like as this is something we look forward to," Ms Sun said, referring to plans for grouping commercial activities.
While some residents said the centre could help them learn about the history of their town, there are others who do not see the need for a permanent display.
Stay-at-home father Brian Chee, 42, said: "Unless they keep updating the exhibits, it's not somewhere we can go to again and again. I'd rather spend more time at the Punggol Waterway Park."
Financial services ambassador Siti Nuraini Roslan, 31, said she would drop in if it hosts activities. She added: "I'm more interested in the upcoming facilities in our town. Hopefully, they will show more of that."
This article was first published on June 25, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.