The lease on a Housing Board flat may be 99 years, but the town it is in could exist beyond that.
To enhance the distinct identities of these housing estates, the HDB will launch design guides for each of its 24 towns over the next five years.
The guides will also ensure coherent development over the decades to come, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said yesterday as he unveiled the first guide for Woodlands, one of four regional centres identified in the Government's land use plan.
Some major cities have pushed out their own guides. Seoul, for example, is said to be the first city in the world, while New York City has a street design manual to guide the improvement of streets and pavements throughout its five boroughs.
Each HDB town guide will ch-ronicle the town's vision and distinct character to help future planners and agencies unify its de-velopments as it evolves.
The guide offers design principles on three scales: the town, neighbourhood and precinct.
The town layer provides the overall vision for the town such as its landmarks and how cycling paths are laid out.
The neighbourhood layer sets out concepts such as the colour palette for buildings and what trees are planted.
The precinct layer guides the detailed design of individual projects such as the type of playgrounds or how HDB signs look.
In a statement, the HDB spelt out how each of these layers would be applied to Woodlands - a town that got its name from the numerous keranji trees along the coastline. Woodlands is also one of three towns earmarked for the third iteration of the Remaking Our Heartland rejuvenation programme.
At the town level, for example, an upcoming WoodsVista Gallery is among the developments that follow Woodlands' wooded theme. The gallery will be a 1.9km-long, greenery-laden pathway that lets residents move seamlessly from Woodlands MRT station to Woodlands Waterfront.
At the neighbourhood level, the town has been divided into sub-areas, each with its own theme.
For instance, the guide suggests that Woodlands Central, with its "Urban" theme, should have vibrant streets, and varied and dynamic facade designs, and use light grey colours with contemporary accents of deeper greys and browns.
On the other hand, Woodlands East, anchored by landmark developments Kampung Admiralty and Admiralty Place, has a "Community" theme.
Here, community spaces should encourage interactions among residents such as through community gardens or other activity spaces.
Buildings could be painted in "bright and earthy accent colours" to complement a light base colour.
And at the precinct level, individual housing projects can still have unique design concepts while remaining aligned with the broader themes. Playgrounds in Woodlands Central, for example, could be designed with bright colours and sculptural elements to emphasise the urban theme, while playgrounds in Woodlands East might feature kampung-inspired play equipment in the shape of animals and fruits to strengthen its community theme.
HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean said the agency is taking the lead with the guides to align different agencies' efforts and ensure a coherent design and town identity. "In this way, we continue to strengthen the identity of each town, preserve the distinctive local flavour and deepen the sense of belonging among residents to their home," she said.
Singapore University of Technology and Design architecture professor Chong Keng Hua said establishing common principles would help develop towns with coherent identities. "When you love not just your country but also your neighbourhood, it translates into the little things, like picking up the litter," he said. "The town becomes something we love and protect."