Singapore is building an eco ‘smart’ city with 42,000 houses

written by Oscar Holland, CNN

In a country where more than 80% of its residents live in public housing, the government’s commitment to sustainable urban design can have enormous implications. And while it is a tropical country where convenience and air conditioning are a way of life, the impact can still be greater.

Promising 42,000 new homes in five residential districts, the Malay word for “middle” – the eco-town of Tenga, although it is in the western region of the island – is the 24th new built by the Government of Singapore since World War II There will be agreement. However, it is the first with centralized cooling, automated garbage collection and a car-free city center, which conservationists hope provides a roadmap to reduce carbon emissions in the Southeast Asian city-state.

The development is being termed as “One Town” by the authorities due to the lush greenery and public parks. Once home to brick-making factories, and later used for military training, the 700-hectare (2.7-square-mile) site has been reclaimed in recent years by an extensive secondary forest. A 328-foot-wide ecological “corridor” will be maintained through its center, which will provide safe passage to wildlife and connect the water catchment area on one side to a nature reserve on the other.

Planners say the city is built with pedestrians and cyclists in mind. Credit: Courtesy Housing and Development Board

According to Chong Fook Loong, Group Director for Research and Planning of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) of Singapore, the project has proved a tabla rasa for urban planners, overseeing the country’s public housing.

“Tanga is a clean slate,” he said in a video interview, explaining that the street, parking and utilities are being pushed under the city center. “We’re going for the ideal concept of traffic segregation, (everything) is underground and then the ground level is completely freed up for pedestrians. So, it’s a very safe environment for everybody.

“We want a city that allows walking and cycling in a very user-friendly manner,” he said, noting that cycling has been “particularly” off-putting in Singapore over the last three to five years. ”

The master plan will see the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, while “Futureproof” is also being done to accommodate emerging technologies on the roads, Chong said.

“When we planned the road network, we envisaged a future where autonomous vehicles and self-driving vehicles would become a reality.”

Cooler by Design

Although relatively small, with a population of less than 6 million people, Singapore’s per capita emissions are higher than those of Britain, China and neighboring Malaysia, according to the country’s National Climate Change Secretariat.
This is due, in part, to air conditioning, which accounts for more than a third of specific household energy consumption. Global warming will only increase this dependency. The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) predicted that, by the end of this century, the average daily temperature in a city-state could be at least 34.1 ° C (93.4 ° F) “almost every day” during the eight warm months. . year.
An artist's impression on the 2.7-square-mile site.

An artist’s impression on the 2.7-square-mile site. Credit: Courtesy Housing and Development Board

As such, quiet desire, growing up, is a necessity for residents. Instead of demonstrating air conditioning, Tengah planners have instead sought to reclaim it. The cold water is cooled using solar power, although the homes in the district will be piped in, meaning that residents do not need to install inefficient outdoor AC condensers (although they can still control the temperature in their apartments Can).

According to SG Group, the city’s energy provider, this would save carbon dioxide the equivalent of taking 4,500 cars off the roads every year. The state-owned energy company reports that, of the apartments already sold, 9 out of 10 future residents sign up for centralized cooling.

Planners use the benefits of air flow and heat across the city to help reduce the so-called urban heat island effect (which causes human activities and structures to heat urban areas more urbanly than surrounding nature) Used computer modeling to simulate. Elsewhere, “smart” lights will go off when public spaces are not empty, and garbage will be stored centrally, when the monitor detects that garbage needs to be collected.

“Instead of using a truck to collect garbage from every block, we will suck all the waste into a chamber through the pneumatic system,” Chong said. “From time to time, (garbage) trucks need to be collected from the chamber.”

One of the city's five residential districts, known as the plantation district, will offer community farming.

One of the city’s five residential districts, known as the plantation district, will offer community farming. Credit: Courtesy Housing and Development Board

More than 70% of the 42,000 homes being built in Tenga will be made available through HDB on long-term leases. Prices for two-bedroom apartments currently start at just 108,000 Singapore dollars ($ 82,000), the first apartments to be completed in 2023.

All residents will have access to the app allowing them to monitor their energy and water usage. (“You control them so that they can reduce their energy consumption, where they can cut down on their energy consumption,” Chong said.) Digital displays in each block, allowing occupants of their collective environmental impact Will inform, which may also encourage competition between residential blocks according to SG. group.

Regardless of whether or not the use of smart technology can significantly dent greenhouse gas emissions, entangling residents with their own consumption can lead to behavior change, according to Perrin Hammel, assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University’s Asian School of the Environment accordingly. He said this is an important part of Singapore’s goal of reaching peak emissions by 2030 and then reducing them.

“To think about food consumption and how people use air conditioning is to (achieve climate goals),” she said. “Changing behavior is going to be an integral part of it and of course, urban design is the first way to influence and change behavior.”

Dubbing a project "Van Nagar," The planners aim to maintain some of the site's natural greenery.

Calling the project a “forest town”, planners aim to maintain some of the site’s natural greenery. Credit: Courtesy Housing and Development Board

Connecting with nature

For Hemel, the integration of nature and residential areas – which “creates more opportunities for people to interact with nature” – is where the outer centers of Tengaha are. In addition to the abovementioned forest corridor, city dwellers will have access to community farming in the so-called plantation district.

Hemel said that beyond promoting and conserving biodiversity, conserving nature on site could lead to further behavior change.

“There are many examples from around the world, which show that changing our relationship with nature through everyday encounters helps people take environmental action,” she said. “On that front I think the biophilic design and (Tenga’s) master plan do a really good job.”

The Nature Society Singapore (NSS) has nonetheless criticized the plan to conserve very little – less than 10% of the site’s existing forest. The environmental group has proposed two additional “core forest areas” on either end of the Green Corridor to promote biodiversity and protect migratory species.

Related video: how to design the perfect city

The government said it is “refining” its plan based on the NSS report, although the Land Transport Authority of Singapore has revealed that even more of the remaining forest – about 3% of the proposed corridor – is the path to viaducting connect. The city will fall for the nearby expressway.

(In an email to CNN, the agency said it would later recreate the trees in the cleaned area and “make suitable temporary wildlife crossings … to provide a safe passage for animals during construction”.)

Nevertheless, Eco-Town has also been widely welcomed by Tenga’s critics, with the NSS concluding its environmental critics as stating that “heartfelt by this adventurous plan”.

What do these urban design initiatives mean for the rest of Singapore. When Tenga was first revealed in 2016, it was the first new city announced by the government of Singapore in two decades, meaning that every other neighborhood was designed long before the era of autonomous vehicles and Internet-enabled facilities . Chong readily admitted that “it is not so easy” to withdraw underground road networks and pneumatic dustbins in existing towns.

Nevertheless, he made a positive comment when asked if Tenga’s model offers future residential projects.

“We try to bring all lessons forward – whenever we can and to our full potential,” he said. “You look at Tenga and in short, you are looking into the future of what the government (sarkar) is trying to create: the future of cities.”


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