A decade after the first residents of Tampines Town moved into their flats, HDB's work on the town was recognised with the 1991 World Habitat Award from The Building and Social Housing Foundation, ahead of the competing cities of Vancouver in Canada and Boston in the United States. The World Habitat Awards are given out annually and are run in partnership with UN-Habitat.
Announced in October 1992, the award held Tampines Town as an exemplar of “high-quality, high-density and affordable housing”. Globally, Tampines was also a “timely lesson to a rapidly urbanising world on excellence, economy and efficiency in the provision of high-rise housing, as well as on how to retain socially cohesive communities.”
Singapore’s submission for the World Habitat Award in 1991 had initially been in the Developing World category, but the judges deemed Tampines worthy of being assessed in the Developed Country section. According to HDB, Tampines was selected above Singapore’s other satellite towns as it best represented the country’s achievements in public housing.
To commemorate the achievement, a three-metre-tall sculpture in the shape of the World Habitat Award trophy was installed in front of Block 510, Tampines Central 1. It was later shifted to the cul-de-sac at Tampines Avenue 5, located just behind Our Tampines Hub in 2017.