Case Study 3 – Singapore Cultural identity in Architecture as Perceived from a Singapore Viewpoint

Soon, Tay Khang. “Architecture and Identity Case Study 3 – Singapore: Cultural Identity in Architecture as Perceived from a Singapore Viewpoint”. In Architecture and Identity, edited by Robert Powell. Singapore: Concept Media/Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 1983.

Soon addressed the search of how Singapore tried to find her own cultural identity in architecture. Although the content does not directly cover the scope related to the Golden Shoe redevelop project, the statements made in the journal might give some hints of how the skyline of the Golden Shoe area becomes how it looks nowadays.

In my opinion, Soon made an important argument as follows:

“I suppose that the cornerstone in the agenda for the invention of South East Asian architecture is the recovery of this heritage and a connection between it and modern science and technology.” (Soon, 1983, page 47)

He stated that the way to create a new form of contemporary South East Asian architecture would be the integration between the old traditions and new technologies. And for Singapore, I think that the result of embracing modern technology into architecture and society is inevitable.

To recover Singapore from its unstable socio-economic conditions, the only way was to introduce new ideas for solving and alleviating problems at the time such as poverty, undesirable living conditions and the like. The input of monetary resources and professional aid would be crucial. As a result, the participation of local professionals (educated from the West) and the focus on economic recovery became the priority to resolve the national issue.

Soon further explained the idea as follows:

“The invention of such as architecture requires a total grasp of the science and technology of building, including the economics and functions.” (Soon, 1983, page 49)

In other words, tall building construction might be the result of how Singapore tried to search for her own identity from architecture. Since tall building construction requires a lot of high-end technologies and materials, more effort has to be put for creating new construction solutions and compete among developers and corporations. The goal to be the ‘tallest’ and the ‘most beautiful’ might also be a side-effect from the search of Singapore’s national identity.

1 Comment on “Case Study 3 – Singapore Cultural identity in Architecture as Perceived from a Singapore Viewpoint

  1. I am very interested in the relationship between national identity and the city. Kyoto has a distinct urban fabric of low rise traditional buildings that becomes major part of the city’s identity.

    In Singapore it seems that there is a new tall building on podium type and the tall building construction is an attempt to find the national identity. Did this type become the national identity? If so how would it differ from similar types we observe in Hong Kong?

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