Art is less valued in Singapore

How Singapore envisions the "intelligent" city of the future

Singapore is not necessarily one of the pioneers when it comes to climate protection: Although the city-state only has around six million inhabitants, the CO2 emissions per capita are among the highest in the world, according to the International Energy Agency. Part of the problem is the enormous need for air conditioning in the city. According to the government, the city has warmed up twice as fast as the global average over the past six decades. Added to this are the already high tropical temperatures averaging 27 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

In order to lower the temperature for the residents without driving up the CO2 emissions with the sometimes inefficient air conditioning systems, the government is already working on better designed city concepts. In the next few years, a completely new district, called "Tengah", with 42,000 apartments is to be built, which - according to the developers - is to become a model for future urban projects in the country and worldwide.

Central cooling system

The special thing about the district: Instead of leaving the air conditioning to each individual apartment, a central cooling system is to be created, which should be significantly more efficient than the individual air conditioning systems. For this, water is to be cooled with the help of solar systems and then passed on to the individual apartments. The residents can still regulate the temperature in their apartment, but according to the developers they would have to pay less for the air conditioning.

In addition, the city planners simulate wind currents and heat development between the buildings and streets. By building the buildings at different heights, for example, the wind flow could be improved. This is to ensure that the district does not heat up too much compared to the surrounding area. Last but not least, dozens of parks and green spaces should ultimately serve as recreational areas and at the same time contribute to cooling.

Ecological corridor

The approximately 700 hectare area on which Tengah is to be built was once the site of the local brick industry, was later used as a training zone for the military and is now largely covered with forest. A large part of the forest will have to give way to the new urban development, but the developers want to integrate part of it into the city - in the form of an ecological corridor around a hundred meters wide, which will also serve as a passage for wild animals.

In addition to the new air conditioning and the green areas, the developers have also come up with a number of other innovations: The center of Tengah is to be completely car-free - at least on the surface. Because the streets for cars should run underground in order to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists on the surface. Outside the center there should then be enough charging stations for the mostly electrically powered and possibly already autonomous vehicles.

Resource consumption via app

The garbage in the district is to be electronically recorded everywhere and transported to collection points by means of a compressed air system, from where it will then be picked up. The residents should keep an eye on their energy and water consumption via an app, and a display in each block should provide information on the environmental impact of all residents. What may sound like excessive surveillance to some, is only intended to provide an incentive to reconsider one's own behavior with regard to environmental protection, according to the Singapore authorities.

The fact that the entire district and all 42,000 apartments are planned and built by the government is also not unusual in Singapore. More than 80 percent of Singapore's population already live in social housing. Of the 42,000 apartments that are to be built in Tengah, around 70 percent are to be awarded as long-term leases via the state housing agency. The cheapest apartments with 40 square meters should cost around 70,000 euros.

If everything goes according to plan, the first residents should be able to move into the new district in 2023. Only then will it become clear whether the innumerable peculiarities of this area actually contribute to a reduction in CO2, whether the district is really worth living in for the residents and, last but not least, whether Tengah is actually a model for the "city of the future". (Jakob Pallinger, February 10, 2021)