6 unique layouts that you can only find in old apartments

Map of River Place 14Map of River Place 14
7 min read

Today’s newer apartments tend to be a bit samey. In an age of ABSD deadlines and shrinking margins, developers are simply not inclined to take risks or try the new and exotic. Sometimes it’s worth looking at the older apartments, which are less uniform but perhaps more characterful; or comfortable, if you are the type who prefers old-fashioned interiors. So here are some less common unit layouts you can find on the market today:

1. Island view

Island View is a stepped terrace project, a form of apartment rarely encountered after the early 1990s, as it is clearly not considered an efficient use of space. This specific private project, which dates back to 1984, has only 72 units. But each of those units is huge and spread over three levels. This amounts to approximately 3,500 square feet, making them some of the largest resale apartments you can find today.

A major advantage of the layout is that the rooms on all levels have a uniform, rectangular or square shape; this makes it extremely versatile (if you look up reno sites you’ll see that Island View units are quite prominent in many portfolios, despite how small and relatively obscure this apartment is).

Like most patio projects, the living room opens onto a sizable outdoor space, large enough to host gatherings and events. There is a dedicated dining area, not normally found in newer apartments; but homeowners today are more likely to use it as an extra family room, recreation room, etc. (these days, Singaporeans like to eat in the kitchen or living room).

These types of projects look visibly older, and the open patio spaces aren’t for everyone – some homeowners find them too exposed to the elements and harder to keep clean (and yes, it can pose quite a challenge for air conditioning depending on how it’s done). is set). But in terms of sheer space and uniqueness, it’s hard to find many equivalents.

2. Pine forest

Pine Grove was the second HUDC estate in Singapore to be purchased and redeveloped, and it also happened to be the second largest estate of its kind (it’s over 80,000 square meters, the HUDC estates were huge). This explains the fairly large units of 1,300 to 1,900 square meters, of which there are 660 in the project.

Pine Grove also has maisonettes (multi-storey units), which come in two variants. The first floor maisonettes have a rear patio, and the second floor maisonettes are walk-up units (but please note there is no elevator to the second floor).

Some maisonettes are divided into four levels: the first floor is the living room, while the next floor is the kitchen and dining room; the other two floors are for the remaining bedrooms. In some other maisonettes, they are only two floors, with the kitchen and dining area on the bottom floor, and the bedrooms and living area on the second floor. It’s an interesting layout that not everyone would appreciate from a practical perspective, but it does create a more unusual visual look – something that those looking for something unique would like.

This dedication to a dining space is almost extinct in Singapore; newer apartments treat them as just an extension of the living room (or in HDB flats we are usually expected to use the kitchen as the dining room). Having a kitchen this spacious is also great for serious home cooks.

Although the interiors are spacious, one quirk of Pine Grove units is the lack of distance between the parking lot and the units. The houses on the ground floor have parking directly in front of the door, on non-designated plots. It’s a little strange to open your door and be greeted by a stranger’s car if you happen to park there. In addition, the parking spaces are not sheltered, so it can be a minor annoyance if the parking space is occupied and you have to park further away.

3. Sutton place

Sutton Place is a freehold apartment dating from 1989; and as you would expect from that era, it has some of the largest units on the market. The most notable are the penthouse units, which can reach over 3,000 sq ft (some are smaller at over 2,650 sq ft, but even that is impressively large by today’s standards).

The ground floor of the penthouse houses the living and dining areas, as well as a bedroom and bathroom (which can also be used as a powder room for guests). A bedroom here is a big plus for residents with limited mobility – in layouts where all the bedrooms are upstairs, going up and down the stairs becomes a safety issue.

The other bedrooms, including the master bedroom, are located on the upper floor. Each The bedroom in the unit is large enough for at least a queen-size bed, while the master bedroom can easily fit a king-size bed (and there’s plenty of room for something like a walk-in closet, even after that).

Regarding the stairs: we are not Feng Shui experts, but we were told that the stairs should not be in the center of the room and should not point directly to the main entrance. Now the stairs here be able to meet these conditions, as the stairs are not neatly tucked away to one side (the center of the unit is more of a traditional placement) and appear quite visible from the front door; we leave that up to you.

For the ground floor units we understand that some have additional basement space. This can be useful if you have a lot of stuff or want to show a collection.

Note that there were en-bloc attempts here starting in 2023.

4. River place

River Place is one of those rare apartments that is suitable for both private occupancy and private use And Rental. Although years in the making (built in 1999, with a 1995 lease), this somewhat mid-sized (509) unit project is very close to Fort Canning and Clarke Quay.

The variety of units here is enormous, from one-bed rental properties (600 sq ft) to larger rental properties over 3,600 sq ft. The interesting ones, however, are the two-storey units.

These units have the living and dining area on the first floor, along with the kitchen and a bedroom. As we said about Sutton Place, if you have family members with mobility issues, it’s important to have at least one bedroom on the ground floor. The stairs are also neatly tucked away to one side rather than in the middle, and are not directly visible from the front door (for Feng Shui believers).

The highlight is the top floor, where there is a roof terrace with jacuzzi. To be honest, one of the reasons we rarely see these anymore is the maintenance issues; some homeowners have complained that it is more trouble than it is worth (for example, leaves and other debris sometimes fall into the hot tub). But on the other hand, some people hate sharing hot tubs with strangers, so a private hot tub may appeal to them.

Nevertheless, some of these units will also enjoy scenic views of the Singapore River along with its convenient location.

5. Pandan Valley

Pandan Valley is one of the oldest apartments in Singapore, dating back to 1978. That could soon be the case the oldest, now that Peace Mansion, Golden Mile and most of its 1970s counterparts are gone.

We have a more detailed overview of the project here; and as we mentioned in the review, there is one enormous mix of layouts across the 623 units. As such, it’s difficult to really categorize how many different layout types are available.

Here is an example of a dedicated dining area, with a study between the living and dining room; also note the partially covered terrace, which now gives you more outdoor space than a typical apartment. Its size is a whopping 3,089 square feet, but it is categorized as a four-bed room.

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Some units are duplexes and also feature a dedicated dining area. In some of these units, the master bedroom – large enough for a walk-in closet – is the downstairs bedroom; great for older homeowners (the younger kids can be the ones climbing up). This kind of semi-separation into levels can also be better for family life, with everyone getting their own space.

Unfortunately, the floor plans of some units have been lost to time. But Pandan Valley was in the era when apartments were designed as ‘bungalows in the sky’, making each one a little different.

6. Bedok Court

Being a 1980s apartment (completed in 1985), Bedok Court has huge units, typically over 2,400 square feet. This may be why there is only room for 280 units. Apart from the size, the units here also boast large amounts of outdoor space, which will appeal to gardening enthusiasts.

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In addition to huge balconies – enough to set up a dining table and eat al fresco – the units have multiple openings onto large terraces, courtyards and gardens. Combined with the large unit sizes, it almost feels like a plot in some ways. In fact, we’d say it’s a better task to simulate the landed experience than even some cluster homes.

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Some residents also appear to have enclosed some of the large balconies, which would significantly enlarge the living area. However, we don’t know if it is easy to get approval, or if the current management is as tolerant as that of the past. Either way, it seems a bit of a shame, as this apartment’s greatest strength is its masterful blend of indoor and outdoor space.

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Be warned though: there have been several en-bloc attempts in Bedok Court, so we don’t know how long it will last; it is certainly a nice piece of land in a mature area.

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