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Isabelle Liew and Sarah Koh
The Straits Times
March 1, 2023
The Housing Board will look into improving the new red-themed HDB blocks in Tampines North which have left some residents displeased, after MP Baey Yam Keng said the colour choice was “not appropriate”.
Photos of one of the blocks, featuring its crimson red tiles and paint, surfaced on social media on Tuesday night, with netizens commenting that they were “spooky” and “like a horror movie”.
Mr Baey told The Straits Times on Wednesday that he has received feedback from residents and will work with the housing authority on it.
“Seeing the photos taken at night with dim lighting, I agree with the comments that the block appears eerie. I’ve told HDB that the colour may not be appropriate in an HDB block, and they will look into it,” he said.
On Tuesday night, the ceilings of the lift lobbies – which were initially painted red – have been painted white. The walls and floor of the lift lobby, as well as the letterbox area, are covered in red tiles.
The block in question is among 11 blocks in the Tampines GreenVines Build-to-Order (BTO) project, which has three different coloured themes.
Three yellow-themed blocks were completed in December 2022, and one of the four red-themed blocks was completed recently, Mr Baey added. The other four blocks are themed purplish blue.
In response to queries, an HDB spokesman said it will also paint some of the red walls white to “tone it down”. It will also do so for the other blocks in the BTO project.
“The tiled areas will remain to help with way-finding and maintain the precinct identity,” she added, noting that the brightly-coloured lift lobbies are meant to differentiate the clusters of blocks.
The spokesman said the three colours chosen were inspired by fruits – dragon fruit, mango and mangosteen.
A resident, who collected her keys this week and wanted to be known only as Ms Nur, 29, a manager, said she thought the lift lobby was “scary and eerie”.
“The bright red floor-to-ceiling does not give me the sense of calm one would seek as they return home. Rather, it creates a pretty stressful environment,” she said, adding that the new white ceiling made the lift lobby look better.
Another resident who wanted to be known only as Ms Lee, 35, said she was shocked when residents shared photos of the block taken at night. The interior designer will be collecting the keys to her four-room flat in one of the red-themed blocks in April.
“At first, I visited the block in the afternoon with my husband and daughter, and we thought it was acceptable. But we went again at night, and it really looked as scary as the pictures,” she said.
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Mr Baey said other suggestions he gave HDB included using brighter lighting.
“The lights used now are a bit dimmer as they are ambient lights, whereas people are used to brighter lift lobbies. HDB is open to exploring various options,” he said.
Mr Baey, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and the Environment and Transport, added that he hopes not to waste resources.
“Our last resort would be to hack the tiles on the wall and floor,” he said.
When residents at the yellow-themed blocks collected their keys in December, some were hesitant about the bright colour, said Mr Baey.
“In a Telegram poll yesterday, most of the residents in the yellow blocks wanted to keep the colour. So let’s not jump to conclusions and I urge residents to give HDB time.”
The BTO project was launched in May 2018 and comprises 1,271 units of three-, four- and five-room flats. It is bounded by Tampines Street 62 and Tampines North Drive 2.