SINGAPORE – When the rebuilt Anderson Serangoon Junior College opens in 2028, it is set to sit on a smaller plot but its buildings will likely be taller.
The site in Yio Chu Kang is slated to occupy 4.3ha in land area, down from its current 6ha.
The redeveloped junior college (JC) is likely to adopt a design similar to that of Eunoia JC, as the Ministry of Education (MOE) looks to house government schools in taller buildings to reduce the land they occupy.
Eunoia JC, which opened in 2020 in Bishan, is Singapore’s first high-rise JC and has one 12-storey block and another 10-storey one.
In September, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) published a proposed amendment to its masterplan which involved rezoning part of Anderson Serangoon JC’s existing campus into a reserve site.
This effectively reduces the land available for the school’s new campus, which will take about four years to be built from 2024.
The JC will move to a holding site in Upper Serangoon Road in January 2024.
Asked about the school’s reduction in land area and whether this will apply to other JCs slated for redevelopment, an MOE spokesman told The Sunday Times that the ministry is studying building future schools on smaller sites, based on high-rise designs, to maximise land use.
MOE had announced in March 2019 that three JCs with older campuses – Anderson Serangoon in Yio Chu Kang, Temasek in Bedok, and Jurong Pioneer in Jurong West – will be rebuilt.
Its spokesman said the upcoming redevelopment will “better support collaborative and interactive learning”. The designs of the redeveloped JC campuses have not been finalised.
In a statement to ST, a URA spokesman said the authority is rezoning part of Anderson Serangoon JC’s site in tandem with the school’s redevelopment, and that the rezoning is “in line with URA’s efforts to optimise land use and meet evolving needs”.
Anderson Serangoon JC – a merged school which brought together Anderson and Serangoon JCs in January 2019 – currently occupies an area of 6ha, which is the equivalent of 8½ football pitches in size.
Beside it, a 0.7ha plot that houses the former Anderson JC hostel is currently zoned for educational institution use. Completed in 2012, the hostel was returned to the state in 2019 and is currently unoccupied.
Next to the 6ha and 0.7ha plots is a 0.6ha reserve site. Under URA’s proposed amendment, the former hostel site and part of Anderson Serangoon JC’s 6ha premises will become part of that reserve site, which will then be 3ha in area.
Asked about plans for the reserve site, the URA spokesman said land made available by the JC’s redevelopment will be “comprehensively reviewed together with the surrounding areas to support future needs for the precinct”.
As these plans are under review, more details will be provided when they are ready, he said.
Anderson Serangoon JC’s planned 4.3ha land area will make it – together with Eunoia JC – among the smallest JCs by land area. CPG Consultants, the architect for Eunoia JC, states on its website that the school occupies 4ha, a third smaller than older JCs.
Despite its smaller land area, Eunoia still has facilities that are comparable to those of other JCs over its 5.1ha gross floor area.
It boasts an eight-lane running track and a field partially elevated at about five storeys high over Kallang River, as well as other facilities such as a multi-purpose hall, music and performing arts studios, an indoor sports hall and a 900-seat auditorium.
Besides serving students, the campus also houses Marymount Community Club.
This was cited by the URA in its long-term plan review exhibition in June as an example of how co-locating “community anchors” – a school and a community club, in this instance – can promote interactions between residents and students, and allow residents to tap the school’s facilities.
Urban planning consultant Alan Cheong said that with the move towards building schools on smaller plots of land, school facilities such as those for sports may have to be built on a smaller scale, and can be placed above or below ground.
Where larger facilities, such as a track and field, cannot be accommodated on campus, the easy access to sporting facilities islandwide can help meet students’ needs, he said.
Mr Cheong, the executive director of research and consultancy at real estate firm Savills Singapore, suggested that it is worth keeping some older JCs for at least a decade, so that the authorities can study how they compare with high-rise schools that are more densely built.
For example, the effects of campus design on student interactions can be studied between schools, he said, noting that interactions between students may be impacted when social spaces become more compact.
Gleaning such insights will allow the authorities to take remedial action before more high-rise schools are built, said Mr Cheong.
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