Sunday, January 22, 2012

Galleries Galore Part 2: HDB Gallery

I hope you enjoyed my write up on the Singapore City Gallery, a free public gallery about urban design and planning. Today, I am going to do a write up on another well known free public gallery which is the HDB Gallery. Opened by the public housing agency, the Housing Development Board (HDB), this gallery showcases the past, present and future of public housing in Singapore.

The gallery is located in HDB Hub which is the headquarters for the HDB and the gallery is hidden underneath the Coffee Bean outlet. You'll have to walk down a flight of stairs to enter the place. 

The first thing you'll come across are two circular projection screen thingies with several touchscreen displays around it. The one making the noise is a game called My Ideal Community: Town Discovery Challenge. It's a fun multiplayer game where you'll have to navigate the guy around and collect for coloured tokens.

When you have found the token, you need to answer a fairly simple question. When I played the game, I only got one wrong question. And if you're unfortunate enough to get a question wrong, don't have to worry just keep walking around and collect the other tokens. It's a very fun game although the music is repetitive and quiet annoying at times. It's great to play with more people.

The other circular projection thingy is not a game but it's still fun nonetheless. It's called Town Navigator. You'll use the joystick and navigate around the screen to find out more about the different estates in Singapore and what they have to offer in the estate. In the picture, I was finding more about the estate of Hougang, which is the estate that I live in. I get to find out what Hougang has to offer such as places of worship, schools, food centres, MRT Stations and more. There are tons of estates that were featured in this touch display. Try to find out more about the estate that you live in.

In this Town Planning part of the gallery, you'll come across an interesting TV display with a town planner explaining to you about what the HDB estate, Toa Payoh has to offer and how the estate benefits the people living here. You can drag left or right to find out more about the facilities such as the parks, expressways and the stadium. There is also another display which is similar but explains about how Singaporeans can own a home with several methods such as the Home Ownership Scheme.

When you walk in further, you will see three different exercise equipments dhat are commonly found in HDB estates. But they're not ordinary equipments. Instead, the wheel which is in the middle, can be used to navigate the video on the screen. And you can view typical residents talking about what is it like to live in a HDB estate with people of different backgrounds.

Right over here, is an exhibit about the history of housing in Singapore. The one with the dirty wall filled with old style pots and pans is how houses look like before the 1960s. The house with the old school black and white TV and fan is how houses look like in the 1960s and lastly, the house with the big CRT TV and coffee table is how houses look like in the 1980s. You may be wondering, how it looks like now. Well, just look at your living room.

You can even read about the stories of these houses on the panel below and watch the history of these houses on the TV sets and projector screens. Turn behind and you'll see the timeline of the history of public housing. Don't forget to pick up the gallery brochure at the reception counter there too.

There are two gallery brochures that are available. One is big and the other one is smaller which is the one pictured above. The smaller one is unique as it looks like an envelope which can be opened from the back. Just peel off the small circular sticker and open it. The feeling is just like opening the envelope for a special invitation to a party.

I think that is the star of the gallery. A unique 360 degree panoramic theatre which shows a short film of a family living in public housing and families enjoying themselves at an HDB estate. It's a great short film. The music is Home, which is a popular 1998 National Day song. Although be warned that you may get teary-eyed after watching the short film. Another warning is that when the film is playing, all doors will be closed and theatre lights will be switched off. The only light source is the film itself. Don't worry, you can get out after watching it. Screening is approximately every 10 mins.

In this exhibit, it's all about the future of public housing. The first picture of these three, is a projector where you get to take your hand and wave it to screen. And take a peek of the future of public housing. There is also a photo booth where you can take a photo of your face with different backgrounds and send it to yourself or friends. The irritating thing is that they'll keep asking to do a survey but you can skip that if you don't want to do it.

You can also watch some videos about how Singapore estates will look like in the future such as Yishun, Punggol and Dawson. These videos are a must watch if you live in any of these estates so that you get to know what's in store in the future. There's also a Koi Pond with real Koi fishes swimming around.

The rest of the gallery include a time capsule, information about green public housing, sustainability efforts and a voting system which lets you vote on what is right and what is wrong. Results of the voting can be seen on this ticker.

Overall, I had a great time here at the HDB Gallery. I get to learn about public housing and also get to learn more about my estate which is Hougang. This place is relatively quiet although some of the noise can be heard upstairs from the Coffee Bean Cafe. It's a relatively empty place so if you're alone, I suggest you bring a friend along. And if you're hungry, grab a bite at the Coffee Bean or Delifrance or Subway that are near the gallery. Eating and drinking are not allowed.

The HDB Gallery is a great place to visit with friends and family. It's completely free and opening times may vary. Although the location is not that convenient, it's located beside Toa Payoh bus interchange and a walking distance from the MRT Station. It's located underneath Coffee Bean and it's within HDB Hub, the HQ for HDB.

The Galleries Galore Series

Part 1: Singapore City Gallery
Part 3: IRAS Gallery
Part 4: Marina Bay City Gallery

Getting Here

Bus services available: 8, 26, 28, 31, 73, 88, 90, 139, 142, 143, 145, 155, 157, 159, 163, 231, 232, 235 and 238 (Toa Payoh Bus Interchange)

Nearest MRT Station: NS19 Toa Payoh MRT Station (North South Line)


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