Given the size of the population relative to the country’s geographical size, it is not surprising that urban architecture dominates the Singapore skyline. What does surprise people when they arrive, however, is the way in which the old and the new sit comfortably alongside one another, and the city’s concerted attempts to ensure that there are parks and other green spaces aplenty.
Singapore’s cityscape presents any number of fascinating architectural juxtapositions, from the grandiose Palladian and Victorian buildings of the Civic District, to the beautiful and historic shophouses of Chinatown, to the bustling markets and temples of Little India. There is a surprising variety to the architecture and in reality the cityscape is far removed from how it is sometimes portrayed, namely a succession of drab, 1970s HDB high-rise apartment complexes (although, of course, there are plenty of these too).
Singapore is, however, synonymous with the skyscraper. The CBD abounds with enormous towers, such as One Raffles Place, Republic Plaza and Capital Tower, all of which come in at over 250m tall (much higher than the highest point on the island, Bukit Timah!). It is tempting to see these towers as deliberate symbols of Singapore’s determination to be a leading player in the world of international finance.
In recent years, however, Singapore has also entered the world of iconic architecture – that is, one-off, unique buildings that are intended to represent the city in the public imagination. The Esplanade Theatres and the new Marina Bay Sands complex are two startling and memorable additions to the city’s skyline that serve as examples of how Singapore is reinventing the way it is seen by the world.
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