Why It Matters

Barriers to going fenceless for condominiums

"Boundary" walls and "soft" barriers in One North Residences. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The Straits Times reported on Monday that Singapore could see more fenceless condominiums in the future.

Such developments in land-scarce Singapore could feature more connectivity, boundaries of vegetation rather than fences, and be strategically located to encourage the sharing of courtyards and public amenities, said industry players.

But for this to really catch on here, developers will need to address concerns related to security and a desire for privacy and exclusivity.

Also, having a more "open" design does not automatically translate into a stronger community spirit.

Take, for example, One North Residences, a fenceless condominium in Buona Vista. The public can freely use its outdoor plaza as well as visit the retail outlets on the ground floors of the residential blocks, which include a minimart and cafeteria.

Still, the condominium's relatively open concept has not done very much to promote a "kampung spirit" in the neighbourhood, according to some people interviewed.

The idea of a gateless condominium is in many ways one worth striving for.

As Dr Chua Yang Liang, a former URA urban planner and now head of research and strategy at ARA Private Funds, mused, such neighbourhoods could take on their own unique character - including by attracting residents bound by similar ideals of sharing their spaces with others in the wider community.

As Singapore continues reinventing itself architecturally, it is important we pay attention to the more intangible elements of our cityscape that bring us closer to our neighbours.

Before any kind of "fenceless" model catches on in Singapore, a mindset shift on how we view "private" and "public" spaces is needed.

It is one thing to have fewer fences surrounding our properties, and another thing altogether to dismantle the psychological fences we erect between ourselves and others.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Barriers to going fenceless'. Subscribe