Sunday, April 9, 2023

City of the Future in Singapore is Singapore

Liam Young 
On a brief stopover in Singapore, I happened across "City Utopia" at the Semi Permanent Festival of Creativity & Design. This was sponsored by Audi, and the venue was the lotus shaped
ArtScience Museum. There were electric cars displayed as art, and in between a podium and seats for the talk. The talk turned out to be a performance, with Liam Young narrating a video about a planet wide single city of the future. The concept was that humanity could live in one interconnected metropolis, with the rest of the planet returned to wilderness. 

Visualization of city infrastructure
 at Singapore City Gallery
The graphics for the world city were impressive, showing towering buildings, made up of futuristic, and old fashioned elements. But it was a little too dark and Blade Runner for my liking. I much preferred the actual city of the future, all around us: Singapore. Young mentioned Sim City, and this also featured in a multimedia display at the Singapore City Gallery, with their version called "Sing City".

I much preferred Singapore City's take on the future. But Aldi might not be happy with it. At the interactive Sing City display I selected the private car option, and the simulation showed all the green space converted to car parks, and roads clogged with cars. The message was clear: we need to move away from dependence on private cars, even if they are electric. 

Regardless of if we agree with the futures shown by Young or Singapore, such visions are useful in making informed choices.

Liam Young is an architect who doesn't design real buildings. He is not the first I have come across.  In 2001, design students at University of Canberra had my home office as their assignment. I was surprised to find the top design was by someone who did not plan a career doing real buildings, instead they were going to do them for video games. I presented my own vision of the city of Canberra to a Bauhaus class of design students working on a design for Sydney.

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