A Place We Take for Granted: Void Decks

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exploringsingapore is exclusive ExplorerSG mini series where we reveal some of the lesser-known places, facts and history of Singapore.

Back in the 1960s, void decks weren’t a thing!

Ground floor flats were once popular among those who were displaced from the kampongs for its direct access to the outdoors as well as the lack of need to take a lift; Yes, people were once afraid of taking the lifts!
Ground floor flats eventually lost its popularity for its lack of privacy and poor ventilation.

In the early 1970s, the Housing and Development Board made the first level of all HDB flats free of housing to open up space for social activities and community events. Void deck, a term only found in Singapore, was first mentioned in HDB annual reports in 1977.

Over the years, void decks extended its use to include an array of amenities and activities from convenience stores to police posts, and from wedding receptions to funeral wakes.

Today, taller and smaller HDB flats have led to the shrinking of void decks. New HDB flats now feature ‘void decks’ in the mid-level as well as the rooftop, opening up the ground floor for communal and retail activities. However, going out of the way to access the void deck have almost defeated the purpose of it: a communal space for (organic) interaction. 

(Image credits: Roslan Rahman)

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