What is it about Singapore that gives you the impression of total wellbeing and puts you in a relaxing and cheerful mood? Is it the fact that everything seems to be working and things make sense? Probably…
After many visits and talks to local people I understand that this feeling is not a coincidence; it is the result of optimal urban planning and future vision. And three main key attributes of Singapore that you hear over and over again: it’s clean, it’s safe and it’s green.
That’s all there is to it.
Singapore has come a long way since the start of its urban planning in the 1950’s. According to the latest UN report, Singapore today counts 5.8 million residents, all living peacefully together on some 700 m2 with an overwhelming majority (92%) enjoying homeownership. Furthermore, most of the resident buildings don’t exceed a height of 280 meters as skyscrapers are not allowed. In this country the sky is not the limit…
I have some friends and family in Singapore; they moved from Europe a while ago. What amazes them the most is that – even with small children- living is made very easy and very safe. When it comes to mobility (Singapore have the world’s fastest walkers), taxis are omnipresent and really cheap and the perfect alternative against pollution and traffic digestions. Everything everywhere is clean. On top of this, everyone can relax and enjoy the day as criminal activity is very rare and they don’t have to worry about being in the wrong part of town at the wrong time of day. A real achievement for a global metropolis !
But what struck me the most is the omnipresence of green spaces; Singapore is home to the biggest tropical orchid gardens on earth ( Singapore Botanic Gardens ) and half of its land area is under green cover. The small country even decided to build the S$ 1 billion Gardens by the Bay with over a quarter of a million rare plants. This masterpiece is developed for all Singaporeans to enjoy life in a highly comfortable, pleasant and gracious way. In a region where space is limited and building opportunities very costly, this decision to dedicate 101 hectares to the public, was indeed not an easy one. For a small country with a population of 5.8 million, this takes courage, vision and planning.
Singapore’s policy makers and urban planners understood very well a key factor: humans are a product of nature and a deep bond with nature is embedded in our genes for thousand and thousand of years. But somewhere along the way we left nature behind and went inside; in the present day, people are spending 85% of their lives indoors.
Living without daylight and fresh air affect us; it undermines our health and wellbeing. Singapore’s policy makers and urban city planners know this and responded massively. Real estate developers such as award winning City Developments Limited took action and stuck to it; despite scepticism and set backs.
Mainly under the supervision of the late visionary chairman Mr Kwek Hong Peng, they developed and built since 1963 a distinctive legacy of championing green buildings, fuelled by their vision to conserve as they construct, setting new benchmarks in innovation and green sustainable developments.
They are building better homes for everyone to live in. Aspiring to the single most important thing we all search for: to let nature back into our lives.
Nature is still here for us and dramatically increases our wellbeing; ask the Singaporeans, they already know …