I’ve spent many a day trawling streets and alley ways in search of murals and street art in Singapore, but did you know there are some pretty impressive murals adorning the sides of Singapore’s HDB blocks in Hougang? I spent an afternoon wandering around for a closer look at the huge murals on the side of Hougang’s Housing Development Blocks (HDBs) and put together this guide on where to find murals in Hougang if you want to do a big of heartland street art hunting.
I’ve found several similar street art residential estates on my travels: Zaspa in northern Poland is a favourite because the apartment blocks remind me so much of our Singaporean HDB estates, as well as the barracks-turned-living-gallery Weiwuying in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and while I’ve not dedicated a complete post to it, Tor Marancia in Rome was my latest residential street art find in 2020. I was pretty surprised to learn that we had such large scale building-high murals in the Singapore heartlands as murals in HDB estates tend to be found in the void decks.
There are 22 murals in total painted by the students of Xinmin Secondary School over 2 phases in 2006 and 2014. Unfortunately there isn’t available information on the specific names so I can’t credit accordingly. Overall I think it’s a pretty impressive job given that these students are just teenagers. It’s also a great community initiative that allows the school to give back and brighten up the community that they are in – the works are in the blocks that face and surround the school compound.
It probably also explains the varying quality of the designs and the ‘National Education‘ sentiment of the works. It feels like a Singapore National Day pep rally theme – golly the number of Singapore flags and Merlions. I couldn’t find info on what brief the students were given for these murals (If you were one of these students, drop a note in the comments please!), but it’s safe to say that it probably had to do with icons of Singapore and loving Singapore as our home and community.
I think it’s a great initiative and the murals really give the Hougang neighbourhood a distinct character. HDB tried to do that with the architecture and you’ll see some of the more experimental-style HDB blocks around here with curved balconies and columns (read more on this in NHB’s Hougang Heritage Trail Booklet), but I’m hoping in future they can open up similar large-scale murals in other estates to Singapore’s plethora of street artists and muralists. Something like what they’ve done in Taman Jurong and Ang Mo Kio but on a much larger, HDB-high scale. And also I would love to see broader themes – Singaporean culture and history is much more than our social studies textbooks and the Merlion.
Count the number of these ‘Singaporean icons’ that you spot and compare them to my Singaporean Icon Count at the bottom of the post:
- Singapore Flag
- Architecture (MBS, Singapore Flyer, etc.)
Random side note: This song was playing in my head as I was putting together this post and now I want it to get stuck in yours. (ROLL OVER THE OCEAN ROLL OVER THE SEA. DON’T FORGET TO DO YOUR PART TO BUILD COMMUNITYYYYY)
Where to find HDB murals in Hougang
Here’s a Google Map to help you out. Most of the Hougang HDB murals are clustered in the area between Hougang Avenue 8, Hougang Avenue 9 and Hougang Avenue 4 around Xinmin School. I’ve classified them into 3 main areas using major landmarks and also threw in some bonus works in the Hougang estate that you can check out as well. I’ve heard of these works for awhile but only got around to exploring them in March 2021 which is when these photos were taken.
If you are taking public transport to Hougang, some of the closest options:
- Bus stops 63321/63329 at Blk 627: 25, 55, 112, 132, 854
- Bus stops 63381/63389 at Xinmin Primary School: 74, 112, 147, 165, 660
- Bus stops 64479/64471 at Blk 665/Blk 917: 72, 109, 112, 116, 159, 329
- Hougang MRT on the purple NE Line (NE14) is about 20 minutes walk away
Hougang Avenue 8
If you’re coming from Yio Chu Kang Road, these are some of the first works you’ll see as you turn off Hougang Ave 2 into Hougang Ave 8.
Blk 628, Blk 632
Blk 620, Blk 611
Xinmin Primary+Secondary School
These works are on the blocks of flats on either side of the school compound along Hougang Ave 8. There are 2 sets of 4 murals on the walls facing the school which look quite nice.
Blk 644, Blk 645, Blk 650, Blk 652
Blk 675, Blk 676, Blk 677, Blk 678
Blk 678, Blk 680
There are another 2 works here on the far end of Blk 678 and the wall on Blk 680 facing it.
Hougang Avenue 9
Blk 665, Blk 667, Blk 661, Blk 662
These works all face the carpark off Hougang Avenue 9. Blk 661 and Blk 662 are next to each other, as well as Blk 665 and Blk 667.
These works are around Ci Yuan Community Centre on the opposite side of Hougang Avenue 9.
Walk down Hougang Avenue 9 pass Hougang Crimson to see this work.
Other notable HDB murals in Hougang
Rainbow Block (Blk 316, Hougang Ave 7)
This Rainbow Block at Blk 316 Hougang Avenue 7 has been around since the 1980s and is one of the more iconic HDB block designs in Singapore. The giant rainbow mural has actually had different orientations in the past, and it’s nice that they’ve kept it even when they’ve repainted the blocks. Quite Instagram-friendly as well.
Welcome Block (Blk 25, Hougang Ave 3)
The welcome to Hougang Town Block 25 sits at the busy junction of Hougang Ave 2 and Upper Serangoon Road and has been another local fixture for many years. It’s a pretty simple design of a sun against a blue sky with birds flying and the welcome message in the 4 official languages.
Singaporean Icon Count
Were you counting how many Singaporean icons make an appearance in these Hougang HDB murals? Here’s my final count:
|Singapore Flag||x 8|
|The word ‘Singapore’||x 5|
|Marina Bay Sands||x 4|
|Singapore Flyer||x 4|
Other notable themes throughout the murals: rainbows and HDB blocks
- Roots.sg has a Hougang Heritage Trail Map if you want to plan your own walking tour as well as a brochure for some historical facts about Hougang
- Jennifer Teo Photography has more pictures of these murals and was quite helpful in me putting together this guide
- Remember Singapore has some great older photos of the HDB murals in times past
Looking for more posts about Singapore? Check out all my Singapore posts or see more street art and mural related posts here: