Saturday, March 07, 2009

Uniquely Singapore

I had the opportunity to join a study tour of Singapore recently. It served to give me a new meaning to the tagline “Uniquely Singapore” as far as urban planning is concerned.

We all know Singapore. And everyone of us has certain perceptions and stereotype views of this small nation at the tip of the Malay Peninsular with a population of only 5 million. You know what I mean: the spats and little quarrels that we continue to have over petty issues and some not-so-petty issues. It’s a love-hate relationship, if you like.

But when it comes to urban planning and landscaping, we can’t find a better city to benchmark against so close to home.

To be sure, Singapore is city-state. Its easier to control, manage and plan a small area, you may say. But therein also lies the biggest challenge for Singapore planners – scarcity of land for development.

But hey, not to worry. This is Singapore!

Sure enough, they’ve found a way around it. Singapore has on-going land reclamation projects. As a result, Singapore’s land area grew from 581.5 km2 in the 1960s to 704 km2 today. And may grow by another 100 km² (38.6 sq mi) by 2030!

It is with these “new land” that the government has (since the 1960s) developed new residential towns in outlying areas consisting mainly of high-rise public housing. As a result, coupled with good and practical landscaping exercise, Singapore has managed to develop high quality urban environment which is not only pleasant for living, but also conducive for their economic growth needs.

Singapore has an excellent landscaping program started about 30 years ago. It is now reaping the results of those meticulous planning and proper pruning works. Its streets are well-shaded and pleasant for walking

Bus stops and footpath well-shaded

The Urban Redevelopment Authority established in 1974 is responsible for urban planning. It boasts the Singapore City Gallery, an extremely interesting urban exhibition center

Not all is prim and proper, though. You can still find this in Singapore - reminds one of home?

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