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 »


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?

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And Beyond Posting Inane Things…

15 08 2007

My life is packed, yet I am unflustered.

Which doesn’t make sense. Submission of my dissertation draft, as according to my countdown widget, is a pasty 8 days 16 hours 14 minutes and 5 seconds away right now. Yet, I’m feeling a sense of peace.

School kicked off with a 3 week intensive workshop conducted by, if Wikipedia is to be believed,  a French political advisor and urban designer. But of course he doesn’t disclose his political affiliations, and thus this goes down into the annals of speculation. The class is made up of students from, at last count, 10 different countries, many working professionals, some government officials, all great people. But I digress.

I wouldn’t say that the workload from this workshop is light. It isn’t. But it isn’t particularly taxing either; yet when I gets home in the evening, sitting down in front of the computer to type out paragraphs of academic essays is not exactly something appealing to me. As always, I lose the motivation to work on it, in no small part due to the fact that I’ve already nailed the content in point form. As anyone who knows me, the cession of intellectual work and the beginning of industry bores me.

And at this moment, irony strikes. I should have taken the last 15 minutes to type my dissertation. 

I Smell Something Burning…

11 08 2007

Mmm, shiny mirrors on a parabolic building… Interesting reflections…


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If Architects Had to Work Like Web Designers

23 06 2007

This has apparently been making its rounds of the interweb for a while now, but Mr Hermit here just saw it on Digg. Poor me.

Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one.

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9 06 2007

The nutters have cut a hole in the building with a giant craft knife.

8 06 2007

As seen at Boredstop.

First were the plans…

… then the contractor takes the plan too literally:

I’d have thought they were Singaporean contractors but then they wouldn’t have the skill to cut the marble that well.