On the Socialism of Cycling Lanes, Public Transport and Subsidised Transit Part 1

19 09 2008

Just last year, I headed out to one of the cycling specialist shops and got myself a nice bike and kitted it out with skinny road slicks and disk brakes for on road commuting. I figured that, with the kind of frequency that our public buses are scheduled (according to SBS’ online bus tracking service, over 20 minutes between buses during off-peak hours) I can probably out-cycle the bus to most destinations within a 10km radius of my place. On top of that, it is probably an excellent way to fight the flab as well as ¬ dare I say it this year’s flavour-of-the-month, save the environment.

Indeed as it turns out I arrived for appointments earlier that I would had I waited for a bus, and I had quite an adrenaline rush from the commute as well. On the latter point, it was not only the speed that a well tuned gear ratio and slick tires enabled the bike to do (an average of close to 30km/h over the course of a journey, which is not too shabby when you compare that to the frequent start and stops of a bus), but the yobs behind the wheels of their corollas and their lancers. More than once I had nearly cycled into taxis swerving in to pick up fares, or drivers who come too close to the curb-side, forcing one to take evasive manoeuvres. Over the span of 6 months, I had numerous opportunities to test out the enormous stopping power of those disk brakes. Things came to a head when a cycling mate of mine had his front wheel of his bike dented by a car that came too close to him as he was evading the large chunks of debris that litter the side of our public roads on top of the double yellow lines, and in that moment of epiphany I went back to taking the bus, declaring that it is way too dangerous to cycle on Singapore roads. Read the rest of this entry »


Temporal Mutability: Post-Structuralism and the Indeterminate in the Discourse of Landscape Urbanism

3 05 2008


Against Determinism

Cedric Price, in his analogy of the city as an egg, describes the ancient city as a boiled egg, still encased in its shell, alluding to the organisational structure of a nucleus within a perimeter wall. The industrialised cities of the 17th to 19th centuries were analogised as a sunny-side-up — a clear centre and a more fluid periphery. And Price sees the modern city as akin to a scrambled egg, without a clear organisational structure.

To take this idea further, I would argue that it is not so much the modern city than the post-modern city that takes on this structure of interoperability between the different areas and transmuted spaces between them. Specifically, the modern city, or the post-industrial metropolis of the twentieth century, is still one planned with a clear organisational framework. While perhaps not one based on a centralised node, as efficient transportation reduces the need for physical proximity and post-industrial commerce has a reduced dependency on the transfer of physical materiel, there are still distinct centres of commerce within this model of the modern city. Read the rest of this entry »


2 04 2008

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2″ in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full?

They agreed that it was.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was. The students laughed.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognise that this is your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else, the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

But then…a student then took the jar which the other students and the professor agreed was full, and proceeded to pour in a glass of beer.

Of course the beer filled the remaining spaces within the jar making the jar truly full.

The moral of this tale is:- no matter how full your life is, there is always room for BEER.

I Am Nerdier Than 93% of the World’s Population

9 09 2007


I am nerdier than 93% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Absolutely, utterly devastating. I am a nerd. Just so you know, I’m blogging this in HTML/CSS

The Shock Doctrine — The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

9 09 2007

I was stressed, I was bored; I had photoshop, I was god

24 08 2007

Yeah, wadeva. Screw dissertation.

The Rehabilitation of Ground Zero and the New Downtown: An Essay on the reconstruction of the World Trade Centre and the development of the New Downtown in Marina Bay

23 08 2007

In an earlier post I’ve mentioned the diametric differences between Singapore and New York, City of Cities. Not that I’m particularly enamoured with NY—its shortcomings are well-known, and in instances almost debilitating for the residents—but it serves as an apt comparison. Written for a past module on urban design, it thought I’d share it, rather than horde it to myself.

The catastrophic destruction of the World Trade Centre has left Lower Manhattan with an urban scenario that has not been seen in many years. Famously chaotic, the lazier faire development of New York City had been an urban planning nightmare. There is more in the way of zoning as opposed to specific and strategic planning of the urbanscape, and as Rem Koolhaas puts it there is a Culture of Congestion[1] in the Big Apple. Yet, in the wake of the massive destruction at Ground Zero, a worldwide design competition was held and the resulting urban proposals for the site were astounding. With all the big names from the international architecture fraternity somehow involved in offering schemes for improving the urban condition of Lower Manhattan, it is little wonder that the New York State is undertaking its largest urban renewal project in decades[2]. A memorial, a new transit station, 7 blocks of skyscrapers and a new tower that will more than double the original land area[3] in terms of commercial usage.

Yet, urban renewal at this scale is no stranger to a city like Singapore, where the Urban Renewal Authority is granted a heavy hand in acquiring property and doling out land leases[4]. Entire precincts are erased in the name of urban renewal and the modernisation of the city, and of what little are left, stringent regulations govern their usage. But before this statement is judged as an overtly harsh critique of what essentially is the urban reality in Singapore, it can be tempered with parallels being drawn with New York. While New York grew under the strength of its commerce, Singapore grew under the strength of its government. In both cities, very little of history remains, and like Singapore, places where there are regulations pertaining to historical buildings like those along Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, the rules are just as stringent as in Singapore. With the development of the New Downtown at the Marina Bay in Singapore, a new and unique opportunity is presented for us to examine the urban design and planning of the entire district, and whether it takes a different approach as the utopian Modernism that has very much exemplified the current Central Business District. Will it take a post-urbanist or zeitgeistic stance and try to introduce the notion of bayside city living as touted in URA’s mantra of Live, Work, Play?

Read the rest of this entry »