HDB just hinted that future flats could be 3D-printed smart homes that keep cool: Here’s how

An artist’s impression of Woodlands Champions Green, an upcoming HDB estate.

In the future, Singapore’s ubiquitous HDB flats could turn out to be jaw-dropping, 3D-printed smart homes that can keep themselves cool.

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) signed two partnerships on Tuesday (July 23) with chemical company Evonik and digital security firm V-Key to help improve the design and digital features of flats.

HDB CEO Dr Cheong Koon Hean said these partnerships would increase HDB’s adoption of advanced technologies, and provide Singaporeans with more liveable and sustainable homes.

Here’s what HDB flats could be like in the future:

#1. Fully smart flats 

HDB is currently testing out smart distribution boards and smart sockets in flats.

Future HDB flats could allow occupants to securely connect smart appliances from different brands on a single digital ecosystem, HDB said.

It is currently testing out smart distribution boards and smart sockets in flats, which will enable tech like smart lighting, motion sensors and smart curtains to be used without requiring an external hub for each device.

“Residents can have the lights switched on and curtains drawn automatically when they step into a room,” HDB said.

It added that this will also allow households to install an elderly-monitoring system, which uses motion sensors to track the activity patterns of elderly residents and can send alerts to loved ones if these patterns are suddenly disrupted.

#2: Buildings with cooler interiors

Chemicals firm Evonik has invented a silicon-based heat-insulation material (in grey) that could be used to cool down HDB flats.

Future HDB flats could be built using a silicon-based material with heat-insulating properties that can mitigate the effects of rising temperatures, HDB said.

It added that by 2100, Singapore’s average daily temperature is projected to increase by up to 4.6 degrees, and the stat board is looking for energy-efficient methods to cool buildings, instead of relying purely on strategies like natural ventilation.

Read also: When Singapore heats up, poorer households use more water, richer ones turn up the air-con: Study

Invented by Evonik, the material has been used in buildings in Germany, Switzerland and London, and is sustainable, non-flammable, and can repel water.

HDB will start testing this silicon-based material on HDB roofs early next year to see if it can successfully reduce the temperature by 2 degrees.

If the trial is successful, it will then consider using the material in other parts of the building, like the facade and gable walls.

#3: Flats 3D-printed from concrete

If Evonik manages to develop a new type of concrete suited for 3D printing, this could mean more designs for future HDB buildings.

HDB said it will start testing out new types of concrete intended for 3D printing late this year. It aims to create a concrete mix that is both strong and flows well into the printed shape.

Currently, making custom concrete moulds is a slow process. If the trial is successful, this could also mean HDB buildings getting more design options, the stat board added.

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