Award-winning Punggol 21: a promise delivered brick by brick, step by step

Punggol 21 - Punggol Waterway

Stroll along Punggol estate and you will come across My Waterway@Punggol – a waterway created for a more refreshing living environment for HDB residents.

The 4.2km-long Punggol Waterway is now one of the most recognisable landmarks in Punggol. A joint project between HDB and NParks, the waterway acts as a major air corridor and encourages wind flow in Punggol, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said.

Flanked by two rivers which were dammed to form two new reservoirs to increase Singapore’s water catchment area, the Waterway was borne out of a need to build an underground pipeline to transfer water between both reservoirs. Through innovative planning, creative design and novel building techniques, the Waterway has transformed Punggol into a vibrant waterfront town replete with sustainability features that help promote greater biodiversity and enhance the water quality.

Vertical green walls, such as the Heartwave Wall, along with some parts of the water also reduces heart absorption on concrete.

Punggol Waterway

Mr Desmond Lee revealed that the project team overcame several challenges as the soil was initially too soft to be built on. He gave credit to HDB officers Mr Chua Kok Eng and his team of engineers who devised a sustainable and cost-effective solution by mixing the soft soil with cement and water injected into the ground.

“The international and local awards received by the project demonstrates the officers’ innovative spirit in creating vibrant and sustainable towns,” said Desmond Lee

Punggol 21: the vision began in 1996

The Punggol of today is very different from its rural past.

Sungei Punggol
Aerial shot of the Punggol river passing through HDB flats and a construction site.

The blueprint for Punggol 21 was first unveiled in 1996 by the former Prime Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, with the vision of developing Punggol 21 as ‘A Waterfront Town of the 21st Century’.

In September 2007, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled new plans under the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) programme. Punggol was one of the pilot towns under the ROH programme with new strategies and plans to reinforce the vision of Punggol as a waterfront town.

One of the plans was to dam up Sungei Serangoon and Sungei Punggol, and introduce a man-made waterway through the town to connect these 2 reservoirs, opening up opportunities for waterfront living.

In 2010, Punggol was selected for development as Singapore’s first Eco-Town, to enhance the living environment in its estates and encourage residents to do their part for the environment. Punggol also serves as a ‘living laboratory’ for HDB to test new ideas and technologies in sustainable development, and integrate urban solutions to create a green living environment. One of the first eco-friendly housing projects in the town was Treelodge@Punggol.

Vision realised

The vision for waterfront living was realised with the development of housing projects along Punggol Waterway such as Waterway Terraces I and II, and Waterway Ridges.

Punggol Waterway Terraces
Punggol Waterway Terraces

In 2014, Punggol Northshore was announced as the first nature-centric district to test-bed smart technologies in public housing. These include an intelligent parking demand monitoring system, sensor-equipped lighting in common areas and smart waste management.

Housing projects in the newest Punggol Point District, including Punggol Point Crown and Punggol Point Cove, were launched in 2019. Their designs pay tribute to the town’s rich heritage as a rustic fishing village.

International awards

After its completion, My Waterway@Punggol won the coveted global award at the FIABCI Prix d’Excellence Awards Ceremony, held on 27 May 2013 in Taichung, Taiwan.

The project also won the Gold Award for the 2012 International Award for Liveable Communities. The award was conferred by the LivCom Management Company and is endorsed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

It clinched the top honour at the International Water Association’s (IWA) biennial Project Innovation Awards, winning the Global Superior Achievement Ward, the first Asian project ever to do so.  The biennial IWA Project Innovation Award (PIA) recognises excellence and innovation in water engineering projects globally.

Five months after its launch, it was awarded the Grand Prize for Excellence in Environmental Engineering in the environmental sustainability category, presented by the prestigious American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE) in 2012.

The 4.2km-long Punggol Waterway is now one of the most recognisable landmarks in the town. Residents and visitors can take part in a range of leisure activities along the waterway and enjoy scenic views as they walk along the landscaped promenade.

Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk.
Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk.

Coney Island, opened in 2015, is now an integral part of the envisioned Waterfront Town. The island is linked to the rest of Punggol by bridge to the Punggol Waterway Park Connector. These recreation amenities have added to Punggol’s waterfront identity.

Promises delivered

We put brick on brick, we climbed step by step, we kept Singapore special, delivered results for Singaporeans.

PM Lee Hsien Loong –

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