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An HDB flat designed with limited mobility in mind

Thoughtful design mannerism has been put in place to make this HDB flat work for a senior with reduced mobility and her able-bodied nieces and nephew, without sacrificing aesthetics.

Home Type: 5-room HDB flat

Floor Area: 1,205sqft

Text by Vanitha Pavapathi

With its open layout and minimal furnishings, this flat would have registered as a minimalist’s home, except that the deliberate design approach indicates more than just aesthetic appeal. Says designer Ean Chu of Happe Design Atelier: “The space planning was heavily reliant on the needs of the inhabitants, especially the owner’s aunt who has limited mobility and navigates in a wheelchair. Walls were removed where possible, and the floors throughout are levelled and kept free of any obstructions to allow uninhibited movements.”

hdb flat cabinet designed with limited mobility in mind by Happe Design Atelier

For safety reasons, quite a fair bit of cabinets has been built-in to prevent them from toppling over. One of the most obvious and important pieces is the cabinet that lines a wall in the living area. It houses a sewing machine that nests on a pull-out system, making it easily accessible for the seamstress aunt; clearly, her limited mobility does not dampen her enthusiasm for the textile art. The generously sized cabinet also keeps all the fabric and sewing necessities behind closed doors when not in used.

hdb flat entrance designed with limited mobility in mind by Happe Design Atelier

In fact, this hidden storage principle is employed throughout the flat with full-height cabinets (save for the display niches) on both sides of the front entry, fully enclosed kitchen cabinets and a platform bed in the master bedroom. The latter of which demonstrates Ean’s design ingenuity.

master bedroom- hdb flat designed with limited mobility in mind by Happe Design Atelier

“The owner (nephew) who occupies the master bedroom requested for a large platform to serve as additional storage,” says Ean. “Seeing that he enjoys gaming and wanted a space where he could have his friends over to engage in this leisure activity, the platform bed has also been designed as a lounge area and to keep the gaming consoles hidden beneath when not in use.”

hdb flat desk designed with limited mobility in mind by Happe Design Atelier

Ean’s thoughtful design mannerism is also evident in the common bedroom where the aunt shares with her niece. The shallow depth of the cantilevered desk by the window not only facilitates the wheelchair, but also makes it more accessible for the aunt to operate the windows and blinds.

kitchen - hdb flat designed with limited mobility in mind by Happe Design Atelier

From the light wood shade of laminated furniture and white marble-liked tiled flooring, the flat predominantly dons a light colour palette except for the kitchen. The unexpected gesture introduces a dramatic yet captivating contrast, especially since the formerly enclosed kitchen became an open-concept space with the integration of an island counter that doubles as a dining area.

The brilliant interplay of light and dark, and the detailed design gestures – both aesthetically and functionally – resulted in a beautiful and comfortable home that is also practical for this family’s day-to-day living.

Happe Design Atelier

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