As more data centres are built to power the city-state’s digital transformation, the design of these high-tech boxes become ever more important.
What do “The Internet” and “The Cloud” look like to you? Even a Google search turns up nothing more than diagrams of seemingly invisible networks that connect the world’s computers, phones and devices. Well, stop looking up and start looking around, because the world wide web exists in plain sight across Singapore. Inside buildings known as “data centres” are the racks of computers that form part of the network which we increasingly depend on in our everyday lives.
They are alongside motorists as they travel down the Ayer-Rajah Expressway—between the flyovers at Buona Vista and Portsdown. One is a neighbour to residents living in the public housing blocks along Serangoon North Avenue 5. Another greets students across the road from Corporation Primary School. These data centres are where information is collected, stored, processed, distributed and accessed, and they are all part of a web of similar facilities connected around the world via fibre cable and satellite.
Despite being touted as an “explosive book”, Socialism That Works… The Singapore Way has a surprisingly idyllic-looking cover. Featuring an aerial photograph of a tree-lined lagoon and greenery that stretches into the horizon, the book could be mistaken for a tourism brochure. Instead, this picture of East Coast Park fronts a 268-page publication that refutes “the many half-truths perpetrated by hostile parties” about Singapore, including the government’s detention of communists without trial and its controls on trade unions and the press.
Over 10 chapters, the country’s top politicians and trade unionists refuted the allegations and made a case for how successful Singapore had become under the rule of the People’s Action Party (PAP). East Coast Park was just one picturesque outcome. As Singapore’s newest and largest public recreational centre when Socialism That Works was released in 1976, the park showcase how the PAP had literally reshaped the island for modern play.
 ‘Socialism That Works… the Singapore Way’, The Business Times, 1 February 1977.
➜ Read the full story in The Singapore Architect #15 (May-August 2019)