Cities today look greener than before. Many new buildings come with terraces and rooftops landscaped with greenery. They are also installed with a host of energy-saving technologies that make them certified “green buildings”. Yet, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, the sector’s carbon emissions worldwide reached an all-time high in 2022. It is also not on track to achieve decarbonisation by 2050, and the gap between the sector’s climate performance and the pathway to decarbonisation is only widening.
Whether it is by sea, air or even digital space, Singapore is one of the world’s most connected cities today. It is plugged into an array of networks that are largely invisible unless there is a breakdown in their operations. The disruptions due to the recent pandemic, for instance, pulled back the curtain on the global supply chains that power everyday life in Singapore.
These networks have not only helped the city-state stay connected to a globalised society, but have also shaped its inhabitants’ image of their home. Most will recognise Singapore as a single landmass when in fact it is an archipelago of 64 islands. It is a testimony to how successful the ruling People’s Action Party government has been in moulding Singapore into an integrated urban entity since the 1960s. As part of the construction of a modern nation-state, citizens were rehoused from kampongs all across Singapore, including its surrounding islands, into public housing estates on the mainland. These physical dislocations and disconnections were the foundation for the connected island nation of today.
Through a lens of social and architectural histories, the book uncovers the many untold stories of the Southeast Asian city-state’s modernization, from the rise of heroic skyscrapers, such as the Pearl Bank Apartments, to the spread of utilitarian typologies like the multi-storey car park. It investigates how modernism, through both form and function, radically transformed Singapore and made its inhabitants into modern citizens. The most intensive period of such change happened in the 1960s and 1970s under the rise of a developmental state seeking to safeguard its new-found independence. However, the book also looks both earlier and later, from between the 1930s to the 1980s, to cover a wider range of histories, building types and also architectural styles, expanding from the International Style and Brutalism and into Art Deco and even a touch of Postmodernism.