Veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon slams poor design of pedestrian walkways in Singapore

Veteran architect and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Architect at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Tay Kheng Soon took to his Facebook on Sunday (13 October) to slam the poor design of footpaths in the country.

In his post, he uploaded a picture of a sidewalk and said that it is a “bad design” as almost a meter of the sidewalk is wasted.

“If the pillars are planted on top of the retaining wall and the open drain is covered, the footpath will be that much wider at very little extra cost,” he suggested.

A few minutes later, the renowned architect took to his Facebook again to upload another image of a different footpath, which he opines has a “much better design”.

“This is a much better design where there is more space. The pillars are at the edge and don’t have an unnecessary bulky base,” he wrote.


A Facebook page called “Singaporeans supporting the government because of covered walkways” also shared Prof Tay’s post and mocked the poor design.

For those who are not aware, this page is a satire on how sheltered pathways are presented by the Government as a election goodie to win votes.

In its post, it wrote: “This cannot do!! This is borderline blasphemy to our scared covered walkways !! Almost 1 metre has been reduced to the walkable area and we have to share this same narrower path with marauding PMDs !!!” sarcastically insulting the bad design by the Government.

However, it’s important to note that the poor design of pedestrian walkways that Prof Tay highlighted in his first post is very common in the country. It is built in such a way because the overhead shelter is usually constructed after the pavement is built.

The construction of covered walkways involve multiple agencies. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) builds and maintains covered walkways which connects transport nodes to nearby amenities as well as maintains covered linkways within road reserves or on state land.

On the other hand, Housing and Development Board (HDB) offers covered walkways between residential blocks to precinct facilities such as multi-storey car parks when designing new developments. However after these are constructed, the town council maintains them and they can opt to build more walkways using its own funds, or by taking from HDB’s Remarking Our Heartland programme or Neighbourhood Renewal Programme.

As such, we wonder if shelters are such an important element to the town’s infrastructure, why don’t the HDB plan the sheltered walkways when they first build the estate, instead of having the town council to build the much needed sheltered walkways later on?

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