chapter  6
11 Pages

A practicable concept of community in a high-rise housing environment

A further irony is that the most severe criticisms should come from the United States, where public housing accounts for a grand total of about 1 per cent of the national housing stock, and from Britain, where only 13 per cent of the total public-housing stock were actually 'high-rise' flats. This is because in these two countries housing has to a considerable extent conventionally meant houses on the ground. The criticisms are therefore mounted from an ideological assumption that the singlefamily-house-on-the-ground concept, with a clearly delineated private patch that offers a maximum sense of privacy and territorial control, is universally the preferred form. The plain fact is, however, that the US

and British practices are certainly not the rule but the exceptions. Indeed, as the comparative study of state housing in Europe by Power (1993: 197) points out: 'The British experience of mass housing was quite distinct, with local authorities as direct providers on a huge scale, houses dominating over flats.' On the other hand, that country's western European neighbours have been living in flats since the nineteenth century

The intention in this chapter is not to continue with the possibly interminable debate about house-forms, but to develop a practicable concept of community in a comprehensively planned high-rise, high-density environment. With about 90 per cent of its three million population relatively successfully housed in both public and private high-rise buildings, Singapore would appear to be a suitable subject for this purpose.