Portrait no. 3: Singapore

Singapore – City of superlatives

Barely as big as Hamburg in terms of area, Singapore is a city and country at the same time, making it the smallest country in Southeast Asia. With 4 official languages, exemplary cultural diversity and forward-looking urban planning based on the principle of sustainability; the former British colony is considered a model of an intelligent city. In the “Global Liveable Cities Index” study, Singapore was ranked number 3 among the most liveable cities in the world.

Rapid rise to world metropolis

Scarce land and limited resources, along with a rapidly growing population, prompted the city-state to lay the foundations for a holistic approach to urban development in the early 1990s. Through increased use of smart technologies, including collection and linking of data, Singapore has launched a number of innovative solutions in the fields of urban planning, green buildings and smart mobility. Singapore today understands itself as a kind of “living laboratory” for forward-looking smart city concepts and has established itself as a leading financial and economic centre in Southeast Asia.

Photo 1: The mega hotel “Marina Bay Sands” in the “Marina Bay” district looks like a gigantic ship on three towers and is one of the many architectural landmarks of Singapore.
Photo 2: The water-spouting mythical creature “Merlion” with the head of a lion and the body of a fish is the patron saint of the city. It symbolizes Singapore’s strength and its special connection to the sea.
Photo 3: Balcony-like gardens adorn the façade of the Park Royal luxury hotel, which is recognized as a “green building”.
Photo 4: The 2.5-kilometre Orchard Road is the shopping street in Singapore. A large number of designer boutiques and shopping centres offer pure shopping pleasure.
Photo 5: In the park “Gardens by the Bay”, “super trees” up to 50 meters high attract attention.
Photo 6: Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu and Islamic festivals are celebrated extensively in Singapore: Entire neighbourhoods are adorned with colourful lanterns, mandalas, and flower arrangements.
Photo 7: The ArtScience Museum designed by the architect Moshe Safdie, with its unique architecture reminiscent of a lotus flower, is one of the most frequently visited museums in Singapore.
Photos: Fotolia, Singapore Tourism Board/Vincent Chong, Andrew Tan.

Model of an intelligent city

Construction boom above and below ground 

In Singapore 5.3 million people currently live on an area of 700 square kilometres; the population density is 8000 people per square kilometre. According to the current zoning plan “Land Use Plan 2030”, the government expects a population increase to 6.9 million people by the year 2030.
The tropical metropolis wants to deal with these challenges with ambitious construction projects, including 700,000 apartments and an increase in the land area through fill on 800 square kilometres. Short distances and the connection of the functions of work, living and leisure are to satisfy the exacting demands of the population for a modern urban environment with high quality of life. Other urban development measures include pedestrian-friendly development of the city expansion with walkways and promenades, plenty of green spaces, sport facilities and very good access to public transport.
New usable spaces are also to be created underground: An “Underground Master Plan” under consideration provides for underground shopping centres, research facilities, and bike paths. There are also plans to convey waste to incinerators using a pipe system.

“Green buildings” conquer the city

To optimize energy efficiency in new buildings, construction is increasingly being carried out according to ecological aspects. In combination with intelligent management and control systems, “green” components such as solar panels, landscaped building surfaces, LED lighting and energy-efficient air conditioning systems are to reduce total energy consumption of buildings sustainably. If new buildings meet the prescribed standards for environmentally friendly construction, they receive the “Green Mark” certification from the “Building and Construction Authority” (BCA). According to government specifications, by 2030 80 per cent of existing and new buildings are to be classified as energy- and resource-efficient “green buildings”. 

Sophisticated transport

The extensive public transport network with the underground system MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) and the city buses is one of the most advanced in the world, ensuring reliable connections to all corners of the island.
To offer passengers all useful information regarding transit operations in real time, mobile and stationary sensors collect vast amounts of digital information, such as at traffic lights and using cameras. For example, passengers can use their mobile phones to find out when the next buses will arrive and how crowded the vehicles are.
In addition, electronic tickets allow the transit companies to always know the utilization of routes by passengers. This means that express buses can be deployed or additional bus lanes can be set up using overhead signs if required.
Due to the modern public transport system, only 10 per cent of Singapore’s population owns a car. After all, high costs are associated with car ownership: In addition to payment of a special tax, a car license that is valid for 10 years must be purchased. Tolls must also be paid each time you drive into the city centre.

Attractive leisure and cultural activities 

Garden city character makes for a pleasant ambience

300 parks and gardens, spread over about half of the urban area, create a nice balance to the extremely densely populated districts. With the delightful contrast between lush wilderness and formally landscaped areas, they offer a high recreational value and are popular places for long walks or sports activities such as Tai Chi.
Singapore has come quite a bit closer to its goal of becoming a “city in the Garden” with the recent project “Gardens by the Bay”: The 100-hectare park at Marina Bay – an artificial district created by filling in the bay – impresses with a number of “super trees” that are up to 50 meters high. These landscaped trees made of steel are connected by footbridges and feature solar panels that provide the power for atmospheric night lighting.

A festival every month

The wealth of cultures and influences means hardly a month passes without a festival: In addition to Singapore’s public holidays, Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu and Islamic holidays are celebrated.
Already at the beginning of the year, the Chinese New Year takes place as one of the most important festivals. It is an exceptional time of year, particularly in Chinatown: Red lanterns and luminous dragons promise good fortune on every corner.
In addition, Singapore is committed to becoming the leading art metropolis of Asia. Numerous new museums, concert halls and theatres enable guest performances on the international level and have become a solid platform for Asian and international artists.

“Living laboratory” for smart city solutions

University campus as a test environment

Particularly to foreign technology companies, Singapore’s dynamic environment offers extensive opportunities to develop and apply technological innovations. The close cooperation between governmental organizations, such as the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), educational institutions and private companies make for an ideal framework.
One example is the EcoCampus of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU): In specially provided experimental buildings, companies can test and bring to market innovative urban solutions, such as for reducing energy and water consumption and waste.
In this way Singapore is continuously expanding its expertise in efficient smart city solutions and taking a leading role in their implementation.

Further information

www.yoursingapore.com – Official website of Singapore