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Bringing maximum efficiency to a 700sqft HDB flat

A small space functions big with a well-considered layout and a custom design solution.

Home Type: 3-room HDB flat

Floor Area: 700sqft

Text by Yvonne Xu

More than anything else, a small space demands economy – an efficiency that answers all the needs, practical or otherwise, of its inhabitants. This 3-room, 700sqft HDB flat designed by Arkhilite demonstrates such an idea.

3-room HDB flat

The unit, situated in the Commonwealth estate, belongs to a professional who is also an avid toy collector. The design brief included a need to house the owner’s large of collection of toys and a requirement for space to occasionally accommodate visiting family.

3-room HDB flat

With the aim identified, the team surveyed the apartment for its potentials and constraints. Arkhilite’s director Vincent Goi recalls some of the key discoveries: “There were two equal-sized bedrooms. Although there were two bathrooms in the flat, neither bedroom was linked to one. Besides, these two bathrooms were very small. Showering was difficult, not to mention that it would wet the entire bathroom. The client thought of it as an unenjoyably utilitarian experience. And no matter which bedroom became his master room, he was going to be inconvenienced, as the bathroom wasn’t attached. Also, there were two structural columns in the flat that were not only visually compromising but also huge hindrances to circulation.”

3-room HDB flat

Vincent continues: “The windows in the living area were covered with opaque films. Only when we were checking for natural light and opened the windows, did we discover the majestic and beautiful rain trees outside the apartment. We knew this was an invaluable site opportunity to take advantage of.”

3-room HDB flat

These discoveries prompted a series of questions: What if the layout was opened up to increase the size and lend the living area a sense of openness? Could the living area also serve as an ad-hoc guest room, or be transformed into one only when the occasion arises? Should the toys’ display be integrated with the living space or peripheral areas? How can the view of the rain trees be maximised? How should the structural columns be concealed?

3-room HDB flat

All these considerations informed the final design plan. First, a new layout was introduced with a set of walls to delineate the common and private areas diagonally on plan. This expanded the floor area of the bedroom, allowing it to comfortably accommodate a queen-size bed and a long wardrobe. It also effectively created a direct path between the master bedroom and an en-suite toilet.

3-room HDB flat

In the centre of the living room is an impressive multi-feature island centrepiece. It houses the entertainment system, storage areas, and an altar. It also conceals the problematic structural columns. A glass display for toys tops the unit. On the other side, the island faces a secondary living space that can be transformed into a sleeping nook for visiting family (by enclosing the space with curtains). The living area wraps around this island unit with a sense of movement and openness, all accentuated by the view of the majestic rain trees through the windows.

Vincent shares:  “We wanted as much of the apartment to have views of the rain trees as possible. Even from the kitchen, you can see the trees. A fixed glass panel was inserted in the master room for a direct visual connection to the trees, swaying beyond the lively living space. For privacy, the roller blinds can be lowered.” The impressive design has been successful in ‘borrowing’ outward views from the deeper reaches of the apartment.

Floor Plan:

A new set of walls delineates the common and private areas diagonally on plan, creating a larger master bedroom


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