I’ve been bombarded with post after post of opinions, feedback, and criticisms of the recently-released population white paper, and to be quite honest, I’ve just about had enough with all these negativity surrounding our plans for supporting the projected 6.9 million people in Singapore by 2030.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I’m not concerned. In fact, I’m as affected as any other person on the street, especially in relation to my employment opportunities and housing issues.
In all honesty, solving these challenges that have such great impact on our lives is not something as easy to understand, as precise and as concise as a 78-paged whitepaper can put together.
While I certainly have no experience in anything as remotely important as running a country, I’ve had my fair share of dabbling as a mayor in SimCity.
I’m sure those of you who have played the virtual city management game before can vouch that it is tough making decisions to keep your Sims happy so they won’t protest in front of city hall or move out of your city altogether – so what more a whole bunch of people not controlled by a click of the mouse!
How we plan to resolve the problem of land usage is one area that I am particularly interested in. I’m already starting to feel the squeeze and my claustrophobia acting up when I shop along Orchard Road over the weekends; pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Let’s just say that at this point I do have reservations about how our current land space is able to support a 6.9 million population without driving us too close for comfort. If we were to increase our usable land area, does this mean less green spaces and parks? And how feasible exactly is it to continue with land reclamation before we become one with our neighbouring countries?
The white paper indicated that the government will “explore new technology and innovative solutions… to support longer-term needs”, so from a more light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek perspective, I propose to you three of my ideas for optimising Singapore’s land use:
1. When expanding horizontally is too much…
Try growing vertically! And by that I don’t just mean building taller-than-life skyscrapers (although we are famous for that) but exploring the option of going down under. Maybe it won’t be as massive as the underground District 13 in The Hunger Games, but we could move businesses that are not weather dependent – the likes of offices and retail spaces – below to make room for more developments on land. We can even create a whole transport network that works with the existing MRT routes. The “underground” line has a pretty nice touch to it, don’t you think?
Creativity: 100%, Feasibility: 10%
Well, one can always dream!
2. Houseboats, anyone?
Not to be confused with boathouse (nope, not the restaurant or the parking facility for your boats), we can think about developing contemporary mini-neighbourhoods on water. Maybe we can stretch that thought further and even expand our transport network to the waters: water taxis, yachts, canoes. Think about places like Amsterdam and Seattle where the houseboats have evolved to iconic architecture peppered along the shorelines of these cities. I’ll start you off with some architectural inspiration from Forbes’ Floating Homes Of The Future.
Creativity: 70%, Feasibility: 50%
Singapore isn’t an island set in the sea for no reason; might as well make use of what little natural resources we have!
3. Fun-sized apartments
I came across an article on Huffington Post about how New York is planning to roll out studio apartments of no more than 300 square feet (slightly smaller than 28 square metres). To put things in perspective, a studio apartment in Singapore comes in 35 and 45 square metres, and so you can already imagine how small these Manhattan dwellings would be. It makes sense to build micro-units in Singapore not just because of land scarcity, but also because we cannot deny the fact that our household units are becoming smaller, with people choosing to stay single or married without children. It is also an affordable option for new couples who are cash-poor. That said, don’t let the size of your apartment limit your creativity. Check out Zach Motl’s 178 square feet studio apartment in Brooklyn to see how he has created a home out of his tiny living space! And I got to say, this man has my utmost respect.
Creativity: 0%, Feasibility: 100%
The idea of smaller apartments is a no-brainer, but totally feasible and practical. Just one caveat: keep us entertained outside of our homes with more outdoor gigs and events!