11 January 2016
It is certainly a captivating experience to step out of the Singapore campus gate and mount the staircase which is positioned only a stone-throw away. So captivating, that for many of the students it was one of the first things students do, even before unpacking their bags, when they arrived here in Singapore.
The stairs give access to the canopy walk, which extend to the tree-top nature trail. At some point near the trail you can see the skyscrapers piercing the sky from between the tree canopy. What a juxtaposition! Singapore is a city of skyscrapers yes! But, undoubtedly, one of its most distinguishing features is its success at merging urban density into its clean, green, natural context. This is certainly a marvel of urban planning.
What the students discovered during their recent Global Learning visit is that Singapore is planned and maintained by the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). This institution is responsible for urban planning and maintaining cultural harmony. In the city-state of Singapore, land usage is very important, the value is emphasised by its limited availability. The URA is responsible for the strategic planning and usage of land. We visited the URA gallery on Maxwell Road for a glimpse of Singapore’s land and sky scape, past and present, and insights on how the land space is managed and regulated.
Through a series of interactive displays of Singapore, scale models and a guided tour of all these, the students were able to get a more holistic view of the tall city they see from their windows daily. The URA offered a mix of temporary and permanent displays of the buildings, city scape and heritage of Singapore. The tour guide was keen on drawing the students’ attention to the people who were a part of Singapore’s journey over the years and detailed how these different people impacted the Singapore that is present today.
They learnt that the delightful scale models of Singapore were actually created by craftsmen in house, and that these are constantly updated to reflect the changing landscape of Singapore. The delightful tour guide, fed them with titbits of information about the history of Singapore— drawing comparative presentations with other countries. They also looked at an interactive display of Singapore compared to other major cities in the world. The URA gallery employs very innovative User Interface design, to showcase how Singapore has changed over the years, for example showcasing how the Singapore river, once dirty and smelly is now the beautiful tourist attraction.
Interesting Fact: Fascinatingly, Singapore measures only 718 square kilometers, yet has one of the highest population densities in the world!
Other notably interesting facts were detailed in the “Audio and Light Show” about the different sections of Singapore. Another Interesting Fact: The swissotel vertical marathon takes place at the swissotel in Singapore covering 1,336 steps over 73 stories.
Surely the visionary approach with which the building of Singapore is noteworthy. The students understood that the first Master Plan was developed in 1971. Even then, there were essential elements of conservation and preservation built into the plan and the plan remains pliable to evolving needs and emerging value prospects for the nation.
The course of learning has awakened an analytical alertness in all of the students, and so it was natural that they would draw the parallel between the strategic, sustainable, approaches adopted in building a resilient nation brand. More profound though, is the reminder of incorporating such visionary precision in their personal and professional pursuits.
It was a wonderful guided tour, getting the students a little more intimate with the lion city, delving into its past, and soaring over its city scape of the present.