How S’pore is improving the way we build our urban environment

Those ongoing construction projects you see here and there along Singapore’s streets? They are testament to the PAP Government’s efforts in improving our cityscape.

About 60 per cent of Singapore’s construction demand for 2023 is from public sector projects, to a cost of between S$16 to S$19 billion. There will be, for example, up to 23,000 flats launched this year.

These projects are also the result of the PAP Government enhancing the resilience of Singapore’s built environment (BE) sector. Developing them includes working with the refreshed BE Industry Transformation Map (ITM) blueprint and making public sector projects more collaborative through the Growth and Transformation Scheme (GTS).

“Even though construction demand appears to be steady, we must remain vigilant,” said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee at the BCA-REDAS Built Environment and Property Prospects Seminar 2023 last week (Jan 12).  

Source: Desmond Lee, Facebook

“Challenges ahead include the growing risk of recession in major economies around the world, supply chain pressures as countries continue to adjust their Covid-19 management policies, and the existential threat of climate change,” he explained.

The BE Industry Transformation Map for productivity and sustainability

The refreshed BE Industry Transformation Map provides a key framework, building resilience against these challenges.

This is done in three main areas.

Integrated Planning and Design has project stakeholders collaborating digitally during design and planning. This optimises downstream construction and maintenance. It’s a common set of data that can be used all through the project.

Advanced Manufacturing and Assembly during construction sees more robotics and automation used. This increases productivity and reduces the need for manpower. It also makes for more efficient land use and streamlines logistics.

Source: Desmond Lee, Facebook

Sustainable Urban Systems reduces building emissions especially during operations and maintenance. This is part of the Singapore Green Building Masterplan.      

This refreshed BE ITM is timely: There’s a strong BE project pipeline overall this year. More HDB flats, as well as public infrastructure like MRT lines and water treatment plants are being constructed.

“For the medium-term outlook from 2024 to 2027, the projected annual construction demand is expected to remain steady, at between S$25 billion and S$32 billion per year,” said Minister Lee.

“The public sector will continue to be the main demand driver, in light of upcoming projects such as the Cross Island MRT Line and several hospital developments, among others.”

The Growth and Transformation Scheme for transforming the value chain

Meanwhile, the GTS fosters even more teamwork between BE stakeholders. As it should be; tripartism is a hallmark of the PAP Government.

And the construction value chain, as Minister Lee notes, is “extremely long”.

“For instance, designs put together by architects and engineers upstream will have downstream implications for contractors as well as facilities managers who build and maintain buildings,” he said.

“If coordination is not optimal, unnecessary re-works will need to be carried out for the building to be constructed or maintained effectively.”

A value chain approach which is geared towards transforming the construction process is needed then.

“We introduced the Growth and Transformation Scheme (GTS) to support groups of firms who want to collaborate across multiple projects and develop capabilities for the longer term,” said Minister Lee.

Source: Desmond Lee, Facebook

This GTS includes a grant which reimburses up to 70 per cent of a BE project’s costs. It is for areas including equipment, materials, software, testing and accreditation, licensing royalties for technology acquisition, intellectual property rights, training/course fees, manpower costs, and consultancy.   

“I am glad to see four of our developers — CapitaLand, GuocoLand Residential, City Developments Limited and UOL Group Limited — sign MOUs with their respective value chain partners at the BCA-REDAS Built Environment and Property Prospects Seminar 2023,” said Minister Lee.

“These MOUs underscore their commitment to pursue strategic relationships, and their intent to apply for the GTS.”

More flats and effective property cooling measures

And where home ownership remains a fundamental Party project, all these developments are taking place in the context of the PAP’s Government recent measures for the buoyant property market — cooling measures including a tightened loan limit and a ramped-up supply of public housing.

“The pace of price increases has moderated in 4Q2022, on the back of much lower transaction volumes following the implementation of the property market measures,” noted Minister Lee.

“We can expect tightness to further ease, as the additional public and private housing supply is made available for sale.”

We can all look to a Singapore that is built better.

Cover photo credit: Kharl Anthony Paica, Unsplash