Thursday, September 3, 2009

Singapore 360 - Day 11: HDB Laundry Bamboo Poles

Most of the Singapore population live in HDB flats. HDB stands for Housing and Development Board, the government office responsible for public housing here in Singapore. But locals have referred to these government-built housing units themselves as HDBs. "Do you live in an HDB or a condo?" is therefore a common question.

These high-rise flats were initially a response to the housing shortages Singapore faced after independence from Britain. Land is scarce especially here in Singapore, being the smallest nation in Southeast Asia and one of the smallest in the world, so HDBs make perfect sense.

How do you dry washed clothes if you live in an HDB and don't have a backyard to put up a clothesline? Easy, use bamboo poles to hang wet clothes outside. Bamboo pole holders, located mostly just below the kitchen windows, are built as part of HDBs and are designed specifically for that purpose.

There are holders inside the kitchen too, attached sturdily to the ceiling. They come in handy when it's raining or if there are certain clothes one is careful not to expose directly under the sun lest risk having their colors fade. Sometimes the only problem with this is that a number of people get too lazy to bring them down before they cook and so the aroma of the food seeps into the clothes. More often than not, it's not a very pleasant smell.

Like the HDBs, the bamboo poles and their holders are an ingenious solution to an everyday problem.


Here's an interesting article I found on the Web:

Debunking the official myths about HDB flats (Part 1): Singaporeans are owners of their HDB flats


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At September 3, 2009 at 4:00 AM , Blogger Brad Farless said...

A few things I wanted to say about that is that people should remember to spend the 1 SGD to get the pole holder caps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the standing water left after rain.

Also, those poles should be lightly hung with clothes. There was an incident where a woman overloaded it and then got pulled out of her window by the weight while trying to place it. She fell to her death. Also, people sometimes drop things, or poles, while doing laundry, so I would advise walking under the buildings or away from them, lest you get killed or maimed by someone's laundry.

I thought it was pretty interesting how the poles are mounted into the sides of the buildings, and how the mounts are outside the windows. Well, I was more surprised by the cost of electricity and the lack of dryers first, but then I was pleasantly surprised by how the common practice of hanging clothes to dry was so nicely addressed.

Something like this could be useful in some US cities too, with garments that specifically need to be hung to dry, or for garments that are hand wash / air dry only. It's much better than just hanging them from a curtain rod!


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