P ublic housing – and by extension, HDB – is an inextricable part of our national identity. When we think of Singapore, the first things that come to mind are quite often our iconic HDB flats. The works of the organisation are just so pervasive in our culture that it is safe to say that our country would not be the burgeoning metropolis that she is today without HDB.
Working with HDB to create homes that we can all be proud of is a team of diverse, talented, and dedicated staff. Of note are the architects, who continually work to revitalise our older estates and towns through a host of renewal and upgrading programmes, and develop new estates to meet the growing needs and aspirations of our population.
One such individual is HDB Local Undergraduate Scholar Sharry Wang, who is currently an Architect in HDB’s Design Development Department. She tells us all about how she helps HDB achieve its mission of redefining public housing to improve the lives of Singaporeans.
Both individuals share how they came to choose their respective courses, and give us an idea of student life at Housing & Development Board.
Why did you decide to apply for the HDB Local Undergraduate Scholarship?
Sharry Wang: A few months before I sat for my International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations, I found myself pondering my future. I was at a crossroads, choosing between taking up a business degree and pursuing my interest in architecture. My family and friends advised me to follow in my dad’s footsteps and study business, but it was clear to me that starting my own business would not be as fulfilling as making an impact on people’s lives. This was when I knew I wanted to join HDB and design spaces that people call home.
How did HDB support you back when you were an undergraduate?
Sharry: Not only did HDB finance my exchange programme to the US, it also sponsored my field trips to Vietnam and India during the course of my architecture degree.
Sharry Wang Suqi
HDB Local Undergraduate Scholar
Architect, Design Development Section,
Development & Procurement Group
The experience of living and studying abroad has been enriching as it has truly broadened my horizons. Through studio sessions with local students in Vietnam and India, I saw first-hand how architecture is perceived in other countries, especially the factors that take precedence in their residential typologies. It was interesting to learn how some architectural practices are efforts to strengthen cultural vitality and preserve existing heritage.
During the course of my architectural studies, I was also privileged to be attached to two different groups – first to the Research and Planning Group, where I had the opportunity to witness HDB’s planners take charge of the overall planning of HDB towns, then to the Development and Procurement Group (DPG), where I learnt more about design options for HDB flats. Throughout both my internship stints, I was mentored by experienced officers who guided me in my projects and helped me gain a better understanding of HDB’s work. I also obtained a broader perspective of the design processes in HDB, which further fuelled my interest in architecture.
Tell us about your current roles and responsibilities as an Architect at HDB.
Sharry: I am exposed to a wide range of job responsibilities in the Design Development Department. As part of my work, I am involved in development designs and I manage the technical aspects of new Build-To-Order (BTO) projects as a Project Coordinator. In the midst of conducting design studies with senior architects, I also get to work with in-house professionals from other disciplines and consult them on the feasibility of these studies. Such inter-department collaborations allow us to develop and improve our existing housing standards, so as to better respond to Singapore’s changing demographics and meet the needs of our diverse population.
Share with us some notable projects you’re involved with now.
Sharry: Currently, I am involved in my first BTO project. Working closely with architectural consultants, we implement the design of this new development project and see it through launch and tender.
In terms of design studies, I am working on re-adjusting the current unit layout and block plans by deconstructing existing spaces and reconstructing them to better fit our present way of lives. I am also involved in research on improving the overall design of HDB flats. Besides injecting vibrancy into our towns, this will ensure better comfort and liveability for our residents.
Give us an idea of the kind of culture in your workplace.
Sharry: My team is relatively diverse. We have colleagues who have been working in HDB for decades and others who decided to leave the private sector to join HDB. The multiple experiences that they have chalked up over the years are a valuable resource that I try to tap on.
Overall, HDB is a warm and encouraging environment to work in. I especially enjoy our lunch sessions where we exchange information and get to know one another better over a hearty meal. We are like a big family here, and we all support one another at work.
What advice would you have for students and aspiring HDB Scholars?
Sharry: I would advise aspiring HDB Scholars to keep abreast of current affairs especially housing matters in Singapore. You can start by reading articles issued by HDB. Not only will this keep you updated on the latest policies and design guidelines, but the knowledge you acquire will also help you in your future career with HDB.
If you are looking forward to being involved in meaningful work over the course of your career, rest assured that a career with HDB will be immensely satisfying as you will be able to make a positive difference to the lives of Singaporeans. I could not have asked for a better place to build a career, and I am sure you can look forward to a fulfilling job when you join HDB too.