Housing Market

10 HDBs With Unique Designs That Look Nothing Like Your Cookie-Cutter Blocks

16 May 2024 | BY

These HDBs with unique designs will show you the blocks out there that are special in their own right, adding character to their spaces.

Being a quintessential feature of our heartlands, HDBs say alot about a neighbourhood’s identity. Iconic as they may be though, that isn’t to say that all of our blocks out there are simply defined by corridors of units stacked upon each other.

Room for interpretation still exists, where many neighbourhoods still bring in an ounce of originality to their HDB block designs, making them stand apart from the rest. With these HDBs with unique designs, you’ll learn of the many blocks out there that are special in their own right, adding that touch of character to their neighbourhoods.

1. Ang Mo Kio – Clover-shaped blocks 

Ang Mo Kio Clover-shaped Blocks
Image credit:

Chancing upon a four-leaf clover is a symbol of luck. And those passing by Ang Mo Kio Avenue 2 can say the same too with these clover-shaped blocks located just along Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

259 Clover @ Kebun Baru
Image credit:
Google Maps

Known to residents as 259 Clover @ Kebun Baru, these four 24-storey blocks are the only circular flats in Singapore. It was designed back when HDB was experimenting with giving signature designs to each housing estate. 

259 Clover @ Kebun Baru floor space

Image credit: PropertyGuru

Unique as the exterior may be, residents have complained that their unit layouts can be impractical when it comes to renovation. This is because the units are a 5-room point block, where each of them has a floor space of one cylindrical section.

Address: 259 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 2, Singapore 560259

2. Little India – Bubble lifts 

Tekka centre bubble lift flats
Image credit:
Art Bao Globe

Usually, we only encounter bubble lifts in selected shopping malls, or in five-star hotels down in the CBD whenever it’s time to blanjah ourselves for a fancy staycay. 

That said, these cool lifts can also be found in Little India near Tekka Centre, which were built in 2007 when the blocks were having their lifts renovated. Residents can be treated to quite a stunning bird’s eye view of the vicinity on their way to and from home everyday.

Address: 661-663 Buffalo Road, Singapore 210661-210663

3. Toa Payoh – Y-Shaped block

Toa Payoh Y-shaped block
Image credit:
National Heritage Board, @veryrealandrew

Toa Payoh is unmistakably an old soul, housing many of Singapore’s firsts such as HDB’s pioneer satellite housing estate. Though the Dragon Playground is iconic enough, Toa Payoh also has its Y-shaped block to add to its book of landmarks in the neighbourhood. 

Toa Payoh Y-Shaped Block
Image credit:
Google Maps

Nicknamed the “VIP” block, its 19-storey facade is a one-of-a-kind in Singapore, and was one of the neighbourhood’s tallest buildings in the 1970s. So, you can imagine the skyline it created and the allure it exuded in contrast to the relatively undeveloped portions of the neighbourhood. Plus, it’s pretty impressive that Queen Elizabeth paid the blocks a visit in 1972 on her very first trip to SG.

Address: 53 Lorong 5 Toa Payoh, Block 53, Singapore 310053

4. Toa Payoh – Whimsical spiral staircases

Block 186 Toa Payoh Central
Image credit:

Just like our grandparents with stories to share, every old neighbourhood has its own hidden gems waiting to be unearthed. For Toa Payoh, it will be these whimsical spiral staircases. Located near the neighbourhood’s library, these eye-popping yellow and blue staircases could be added to your list of charming back alleys to visit. 

Address: Block 186 Toa Payoh Central, Singapore 310186

5. Queenstown & Whampoa – HDB terrace homes

HDB Terrace Homes 2
Image credit:
Edge Prop

Like yin and yang, the words “HDB” and “terrace houses” bring to mind images that are polar opposites. Though that occurs 99.9% of the time, Queenstown and Whampoa are the chosen ones with HDB terrace homes, rarities that were built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), HDB’s predecessor. 

HDB Terrace Home
A Japanese zen garden built within a HDB terrace home
Image credit: @wabisabihomu

Built between the late 1960s to early 1970s, there are around 285 of such units in Singapore across Jalan Bahagia, Jalan Tenteram and Jalan Ma’mor in Whampoa, as well as Stirling Road in Queenstown. 

Those who manage to get keys to these units will have struck gold, as they’re effectively buying a terrace from $950,000, a far cry from usual landed home prices. In the HDB world though, they are undeniably the most expensive – for the record, it was this Whampoa HDB Terrace House that took the top spot as the most expensive resale unit ever sold at $1.268 million.

6. Tiong Bahru – Art deco-inspired flats

Tiong Bahru flats

Image credit: TheSmartLocal

An era long before being the unanimous go-to for hipster cafes and quirky bookstores, Tiong Bahru was already the cool kid in the block. Proving its OG status is its art-deco inspired flats, which were pre-war developments built by the British in 1936, also under SIT.

Tiong Bahru flats
Image credit: Urban Redevelopment Authority

The main block that stands out is one that is horse-shoe in shape, located at block 78 across Yong Siak Street, Guan Chuan Street and Moh Guan Terrace. In 2003, it was gazetted by URA as a heritage conservation site.

Address: 78 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 163078

7. Rochor – Diagonal balcony-like corridors

Rochor Selegie House 2
Image credit:
@cwaikong, @aloysnaps

A neighbourhood known for housing techies’ haven, Sim Lim Square, Rochor is one of our most highly-valued districts, not forgetting to mention its Prime Location Public Housing status. Expensive resales aside, it also has its share of uniquely-designed blocks, as seen in these diagonal balcony-like corridors found in the building complex Selegie House. 

Rochor Selegie House
The balconies are decorated with Singapore flags to celebrate National Day
Image credit: @truemy.eyes

Located just behind Laselle College of the Arts, Selegie House was one of HDB’s first ventures into building high-rise flats to accommodate the population growth during the post-war period. When construction was finished in 1963, these blocks were the tallest in Singapore, and had commercial units on top of residential ones.

Address: 8 Selegie Road, Selegie House, Singapore 180008

8. Punggol – Hexagonal designs 

Punggol waterway terraces
Image credit:

Like a late blooming child that has just begun to flourish, Punggol has come a long way from its kampung days, becoming one of the fastest growing towns in SG. When it comes to uniquely-designed HDBs, it has Waterway Terraces to show, a block of flats right opposite Punggol Waterway Point with hexagonal designs.

Punggol waterway terraces
Image credit:
ArchDaily, ArchDaily

Taking sustainability into account, these blocks have lots of in-built greenery in order to maximise natural ventilation. The hexagonal shape also enables the blocks to bind around each other, allowing the units to remain shaded from the sun, while creating a sense of community.

Address: 380B Punggol Walk, Waterway Terraces, Singapore 822308

9. Choa Chu Kang – Geometric murals with vibrant colours

Choa Chu Kang Piet Mondrian blocks
Image credit:
@theoccasionaltraveller, @enonater

Life imitates art, and we have blocks in Choa Chu Kang to prove that. With its geometric murals with vibrant colours, these blocks contain square murals decked in solid red, blue and yellow colours as reminiscent of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian’s iconic style. 

Completed in 2017, this paint job was done by Choa Chu Kang Town Council, which repaints the blocks once every seven years. Beyond its IG-worthy facade, these blocks do their part by bringing a slice of the National Gallery to the heartlands. After all, art does wonders in injecting life into a neighbourhood.

Address: Blks 1-7 Teck Whye Avenue, Singapore 680001-680007

10. Pasir Ris – Maritime-inspired facades

Pasir Ris Street 11
Lighthouse-inspired exterior of the blocks along Pasir Ris Street 11
Image credit: National Heritage Board

No, we are not putting forth our stance on the “East side vs West side” debate, but you can’t deny the heavenly seaside vibes found in Pasir Ris that makes it a go-to for many of us as a break away from the usual concrete jungle. 

Beyond its beaches and chalets, the neighbourhood also has these blocks with maritime-inspired facades that remind us of its role as our nautical getaway spot. 

Pasir Ris street 11
Image credit:
National Heritage Board

Through the use of porthole and lighthouse motifs, these flats have designs that pay tribute to the Pasir Ris’ coastal heritage.

Address: Block 130 & Block 141 Pasir Street 11, Singapore 510130 & 510141

HDBs with unique designs in Singapore

Apart from being a gateway to affordable housing, HDBs are a hallmark in our everyday Singaporean life. It doesn’t hurt to take a break from the regular blocks every now and then, as these HDBs with unique designs have worked a whole magic to their surroundings in a bid to add a lil pzazz to spruce up the neighbourhood.

Other HDB-related content to check out:

Cover image adapted from: ourbigfatexpatadventure, kelvinkwgoh

This article was originally published on 6th April 2022, and updated on 16th May 2024.

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.

More In... #hdb