In Singapore, city planning is conducted in an ivory tower governed by the authorities. One could fully leave the incessant process of tearing down and building for bigger and better horizons to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) or private property developers such as Far East Organisation and CapitaLand, to name a few. In fact, entering the building of the URA is like visiting the museum of Singapore’s entire city planning history and, in fact, you can gather a repository of historical material from its in-house library. But concept plans and ivory towers hardly capture the spirit of a city, and one should dig deeper into the motivations and influences in a city’s design in order to unravel the nooks and crannies of city planning.
Taking Singapore as a case study, I hope to draw attention to the intricacies of our contemporary cityscape and what these reveal about our culture, in an attempt to view my hometown through a kinder lens and in light of its 48th birthday.
From conducting an informal research into the design of Marina Bay Sands, Singapore’s casino complex comprising of a luxury mall (with an indoor Vienna-style stream) that directly links to an equally ambitious ArtScience Museum, the wisdom behind the architecture is informed by conventional Fengshui wisdom. Without going into specifics in the confines of this article, one can pursue more information from websites detailing hypotheses in architectural geomancy here and here. It is hard not to imagine some tiger-fisted blueprint being helmed by the likes of Cambridge-educated Harry Lee, who could still heed to the conventional superstitions of the old-school fengshui masters. In any case, ever since returning to Singapore in July 2012, the view of Marina Bay Sands from the Benjamin Sheares Bridge has never been more beautiful.