Text by Eugene Tan

Sited at the peak of Cairnhill Circle, one would imagine that Hilltops got its name from its location. First designed by Kumpulan Akitek in 1965, it was a high rise compact development of 99 apartments and 3 penthouses.

Hilltops Apartments (Photo credit: Kumpulan Akitek)

Totalling 15 storeys, each floor had seven apartments attached radially to the perimeter of an octagon with a common internal open corridor access served by a single core of lifts.

Plan of Hilltops Apartments by Kumpulan Akitek

With complete privacy from adjoining units, this design allowed every apartment to enjoy their own uninterrupted views of the city, taking full advantage of the building’s lofty location. The central void is open to the sky and acts as an airshaft to induce cross ventilation through the apartments. The children’s play area was located at the base of this void, benefiting from natural light and animating the building with movement and sound.

Hilltops Condominium on top of Cairnhill Circle

In a forward-thinking gesture for its time, the building was elevated on ‘pilotis’, leaving the ground floor open as a covered car park for residents, giving all units better privacy. Other decidedly modern features were the long horizontal windows, made possible by an intelligent and efficient structural system which only used one wall of each unit.

Hilltops by Kumpulan Akitek before its collective sale

Just as Hilltops was the first of many luxury high rise developments in the Cairnhill area, it was also one of the first to be expunged. In 2006, Hilltops was sold through collective sale, and a development of the same name will replace it. The two should not be confused.