HDB Homes of Singapore
by Keyakismos, Tomohisa Miyauchi
Gatehouse Publishing

This photo book weighs 5kg and measures 30cm x 30cm, which means it’s not something you would give to anyone living in one of Hong Kong’s nano flats. But it is a collector’s item and should appeal to readers interested in architecture, urban planning, design and anthropology, among other areas.

Conceived in 2015 by three Japanese in Singapore – architect Tomohisa Miyauchi, and a couple in the arts who call themselves Keyakismos – it affords glimpses into the public housing of Singaporeans, more than 80 per cent of whom live in so-called HDB (Housing and Development Board) flats. While some units are old-style (featuring altar tables that may not have been moved since 1960, when the HDB was established), others have been renovated to become magazine-worthy. Not that stylists were employed: you won’t see throws draped artfully across sofas. In fact, in some cases, because the visits were impromptu, the apartments were exactly as the team had found them, with collections of Hello Kitty paraphernalia, handbags and plastic toys on display.

The Hong Kong comparison ends there, though, and not only because of the green HDB areas. Planners in Hong Kong should pay special attention to the city state’s new HDB flats.