Urbanscape in Singapore

18 09 2006

There was an entry on Blinkymummy’s blog regarding the possibility of gated communities and container housing in the context of the Singapore city. It, and Zihao’s comments, got me thinking that the satallite-town autonomy enjoyed by our ring city system has created inward-looking communities that do little to add to the vibrancy of city life.

I’m not too sure having such random communities of containers popping up on state or disused land will take flight in a place like Singapore, where control is cardinal. I’m not saying that we are living in a dystopian society of dated ideals, but the Singaporean model of urban planning is in need of a review if we need to create a vibrant city.

Vibrancy in a city is not just about having nightspots or late-night shopping; it is about integrating the lifestyle of the average citizen with the urbane. Look at Shenton Way after 7, or Orchard Road late at night. We will never become a true metropolis like New York because our lives are not intertwined with the city itself. To us, it is simply a place where we go to work or to get the latest fashion.

There is zero residency in the Shenton area, and whatever apartments you have in the pheriphery of Orchard Road are high-luxury apartments that pay lip-service to the notion of city-living. Having a glazed facade does not constitute interaction with the city (you should know which building I’m talking about). These people will not come out of their houses to stroll in the city, neither does the city have anything to offer them.

While BM’s idea of such container houses introducing a different social strata into the city might help jumpstart a rejuvination of the city, the city itself needs to have something to offer the residents of such housing, and at this moment there is pitifully little in the way of that.

We need to create shopping complexes that are not navel-gazers (this is to say shops should look out at the street instead of an internal atrium) and have infrastructure to allow people to stroll the street, and not choke the pavements with roadshows and other cacophony that make walking down Orchard Road a horror.

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