Located in Cantonment Road, Pinnacle at Duxton is a 50-storey residential development next to Singapore’s business district. Collectively, the seven connected towers are the world’s tallest public residential buildings. One of the most iconic features of Pinnacle at Duxton are the sky bridges that connect the towers through the 26th and 50th floors.
Pinnacle is also unique in that it is the winner of a worldwide design competition that attracted over 200 entries. The winners were two Singaporean architecture companies, ARC Studio Architecture + Urbanism, in collaboration with RSP Architects Planners & Engineers (Pte) Ltd.
Entrance to Pinnacle@Duxton
The development has won the 2010 Best Tall Building (Asia and Australasia) award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, as well as the 2011 Urban Land Institute’s Global Awards for Excellence.
Pinnacle towers over nearby shophouses
The site that Pinnacle is located on, Duxton Plain, has great historical significance – it is the site of the first two ten-storey HDB blocks built in Tanjong Pagar. Those blocks were also amongst the oldest built by HDB in the country.
The redevelopment of Duxton Plain was initiated by Lee Kuan Yew in August 2001 to commemorate the historical significance of the previous blocks. There is an outdoor gallery that also highlights this history by tracing the outline of the original blocks.
An international architectural design competition – the first for a public-housing project in Singapore – was launched on 8 August 2001 by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The design brief required that the flats be affordable and easy to maintain, able to “preserve the memory of the Duxton Plain site” and “relate to the adjoining Duxton Plain Park”, which would feature a light sculpture and two plaques.
The flats needed to have a mix of four- and five-room units, and rooftop and mid-level gardens had to be included. Tanjong Pagar Community Centre also needed to be more visible from Cantonment Road. The project also had to accommodate two trees planted by Lee Kuan Yew in the 1980s when he was prime minister.
The sky bridge linking the seven buildings
All seven buildings are linked at the 26th and 50th floors by sky bridges. These bridges form a jogging track, and there are also playgrounds and a sky garden. Other facilities include a food centre, basketball court, daycare centre, underground car park and other recreational facilities.
The design inspiration came from the idea of using “flow and eddies” as well as “strips and loops” to weave through the estate, forming a network linking the tower blocks and the ground.
It would create green pockets or pathways, while giving residents interactive spaces. This allowed greater flexibility in the orientation of the flats, which enabled the oddly shaped plot of land to be fully utilised. The ground level of the buildings was also raised to create parking spaces beneath.
Buyers were able to choose the layout of their flat from various combinations which included balconies, planter boxes, and bay windows. The internal concrete walls are lightweight and easy to remove, which made it convenient for owners to modify their interiors.
HDB released the flats under the BTO scheme on 29 May 2004, with the tagline “The Peak of City Living”. Smaller flats measuring 93 to 97 sqm were priced from S$289,200 to S$380,900, while bigger ones measuring 105 to 108 sqm were priced between S$345,100 and S$439,400.
The response was overwhelming. The first batch of 528 units received 3,149 applications within one day. HDB ended up releasing the remaining 1,320 units and extended the deadline. The final tally of applications was 5,171. A relaunch of the remaining 111 units, with higher prices of S$545,000 to S$645,800, took place in September 2008 – 372 applications were received.
Pinnacle’s rooftop sky garden
The Resale Value
Many of the flat owners of Pinnacle at Duxton have begun to reap large profits since December 2014, which is when they began fulfilling the five-year minimum occupation period.
On January 3 2015, the very first unit that was sold on the resale market went for $900,000 – less than a month after owners of the units were allowed to put their units for sale. It was a four-room flat located between the 34th and 36th floors. The following year, a five-room unit went for $1.12 million. It was at the time the highest price that was fetched by an HDB flat. A good number of Pinnacle’s five-room units have been sold for over a million.
Pinnacle’s prices are not unique to the development – other HDB flats in mature housing estates have begun to command such prices, such as an executive maisonette in Bishan that went for $1.05 million.
Why are people willing to pay so much?
Pinnacle at Duxton can be considered the Rolls-Royce of HDB development projects. One of the main reasons that people are willing to pay this much for a unit at Pinnacle at Duxton is its prime location near the CBD area.
Outram MRT is also within walking distance, and Tanjong Pagar Plaza is but a stone’s throw away. This is in addition to its unique status as a landmark HDB project, and the facilities present in the development. The scarcity of available units, the flats’ design and unblocked panoramic views have also contributed to the prices.
These sky-high prices however, do not represent the majority of resale HDB flat transactions.