Walkway in new Punggol district to be above ground

Residents in an upcoming Punggol district will have the most extensive second-storey walkway in Singapore, linking them block to block from LRT station to the sea.

Northshore will be the first public housing district to be fully connected to an LRT station via a path one level above the ground. The walkway, which will be lined with greenery, leads out to Punggol's coastal promenade.

Similar corridors which connect carparks to Housing Board blocks or malls to MRT stations already exist, but are not so extensive, said the Housing Board.

Ground-floor void decks will still be present but transformed into high-ceiling atriums with greenery and open spaces, revealed HDB Building Research Institute director Larry Cheng in an interview yesterday.

Northshore, named because it faces the Strait of Johor, is one of Punggol's slated seven waterfront housing districts. It will be developed over the next five years, subject to demand.

The seafront estate is part of the second phase of Punggol's development, to be carried out over the next 15 years.

The new town will be twice the size of Ang Mo Kio when it is completed, and will have 96,000 HDB flats and private homes.

Mr Cheng said he wants Northshore residents to feel "as though you're living in a park rather than sandwiched between two blocks".

Void decks may not even be of single-storey height.

"Where we can, we'll (make) it two, three storeys high. So that as you walk past you don't feel hemmed in; you've got a sense of spaciousness," he said.

Residents can feel as if they are out in the open even while walking through a block, added the senior principal architect. The precincts will also be cooled by the sea breeze.

Some of Northshore's carparks will be hidden from sight underground, at least a level or two deep. There are even plans for green areas along the coastal promenade for migratory birds' rest stops along their journey.

The designs, with their focus on open spaces and nature, are meant to ease the congestion and crowdedness that arise from high density living and a growing population, said Mr Cheng.

The ideas are still a work in progress, but some features may be adapted for other districts if they are well received, he added.

The concept behind it all is simple, he said. "We wanted to create this living experience. It becomes a memory (for people who live here), who will say, 'Yes, Punggol is a nice place, it's my home'."

Ms Marilyn Peh, 24, said she would not mind visiting the walkway in the future as she lives nearby in Punggol East. Said the public relations executive: "It makes the place livelier with more to do, not just a regular area where you go home. I've never seen this anywhere in Singapore."

charyong@sph.com.sg