“There are many challenges to planning but in Singapore, we managed to get it right.” These words by Dr Liu Thai Ker, Director, RSP Architects Planners and Engineers (Pte) Ltd, were echoed by all four speakers as they shared their experience of the planning of Singapore’s urban landscape at the recent National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series (GGS) forum: Service Through Design, By Design.
Mr Liew Mun Leong, Founding President & CEO of CapitaLand Group and Chairman of Changi Airport Group, a major participant in Singapore’s urban development, said that in Singapore, where land is scarce and costly, three important lessons should be applied: first, careful planning and design so as to maximise our scarce land resource; second, investing in people or “building people so they can build for people”; and third, promoting good design.
Mr Lim Eng Hwee, Chief Planner and Deputy CEO of the Urban Redevelopment Authority shared the vision behind the development of Marina Bay. He explained the objectives of this development were to grow Singapore’s Central Business District, preserve history and design an area where people can live, work and play.
To achieve this, the government emphasised architectural and urban design excellence, for example providing an appealing skyline with low-rise buildings on the waterfront flanked by high-rise developments. They also aimed to provide a garden in the city with parks and roof gardens. Water sustainability was also key and led to the development of the Marina Barrage. Finally, every effort was made to conserve historical buildings, such as Clifford Pier. Today, Marina Bay is undoubtedly a success story. It boasts over 22 million local and overseas visitors per year, rates highly in all visitor surveys and has been voted the favourite waterfront place in Singapore by locals.
Dr Liu gave a talk entitled “Creation of a Global City – Urban Transformation – The Design of Singapore” in which he charted the steps taken by Singapore to create a city where, in the words of most foreign visitors, “everything works”. This Asian success story has managed to avoid problems such as the flooding and pollution of Jakarta and Beijing respectively through successful planning and good government leadership. The secret to this success includes ensuring that urban planning leads development rather than the other way round, as in the case of most cities. There must be a masterplan that marries the basic functional needs of the city, such as areas to live and good infrastructure, with the artistic side of the city. Every city should be a both perfect machine for living and a beautiful environment.
Dr Liu concluded his talk by highlighting the role that the NUS School of Design and Evironment (SDE) has played in the development of modern Singapore. He said, “To carry on our legacy, we need good students and strong support from everybody.”
Professor Heng Chye Kiang, Dean of SDE, provided a glimpse of some of the works by SDE students designed for the underprivileged including a baby monitor for hearing-impaired parents, an assistive walker for children with cerebral palsy and “Blindspot” a device for the visually handicapped to detect obstacles and spot friends in the vicinity.
At the forum, it was announced that Mr KH Tan, Managing Director of Newsman Realty Pte Ltd, who made the NUS GGS possible thanks to a generous gift, has made an additional gift to SDE to support scholarships and bursaries and a series of outreach and engagement events.
NUS GGS features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The Series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society.
For further information on the NUS Greater Good Series, contact Chow Wei Ling firstname.lastname@example.org.