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S'pore in next 50 years: Open-plan flats, 'identity corridors', recreational spots on Southern Islands among URA's plans

SINGAPORE — Several decades from now, people in Singapore could live in "open-plan" flats, walk to the nearest business district for work and spend their weekends exploring one of the five “identity corridors” across the island. 

The Urban Redevelopment Authority launched a public exhibition on June 6 at The URA Centre, showcasing planning concepts and proposals to guide Singapore’s development for the next 50 years.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority launched a public exhibition on June 6 at The URA Centre, showcasing planning concepts and proposals to guide Singapore’s development for the next 50 years.
  • The Urban Redevelopment Authority launched an exhibition on June 6 to gather public feedback for its 50-year plan
  • The plan includes concepts to rejuvenate homes and communities as well as prepare workplaces for the future
  • Sustainability and preservation of identity are also being explored, through the launch of more green areas

SINGAPORE — Several decades from now, people in Singapore could live in "open-plan" flats, walk to the nearest business district for work and spend their weekends exploring one of the five “identity corridors” across the island. 

These are some of the ideas unveiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in a public exhibition launched on Monday (June 6) that showcases planning concepts and proposals to guide Singapore’s development for the next 50 years. The exhibition, dubbed Space for Our Dreams, is presented for public feedback and covers different aspects of Singapore’s urban environment. 

The ideas include glimpses of what future homes could look like, new spaces outside the Central Business District that could be turned into commercial "polycentres" and swathes of green that will be preserved as ecological corridors

FLEXIBLE HOMES, INCLUSIVE HOUSING

One strategy that URA is adopting is to plan for a wider variety of housing designs to cater to households of different sizes and needs.

They would include homes designed with more open floor plans so that owners may configure the spaces according to their changing needs and lifestyle.

URA is also striving to make housing areas more inclusive and closely knit.

“For example, the future residential estate at Bayshore will have a mix of public and private housing that are well-supported by amenities and recreational options for the community to enjoy,” the authority said.

Besides these, it is looking at incorporating more walkable streets and community spaces, such as by designing schools to allow sharing of more facilities with the community and to foster better relationships in the community.

To make towns more adaptable and future-proof, URA will rejuvenate old towns, while setting aside reserve sites and adaptable “time-shared” spaces that accommodate different uses at different parts of the day.

An example would be a co-working space during the day that doubles up as a community events venue in the evenings.

MORE FLEXIBLE ARRANGEMENT, CLOSER TO HOME

URA will continue to build up islandwide “polycentres” — or business nodes outside the city centre — to bring jobs closer to home.

Both polycentres and city centres could also see industrial estates that integrate different uses in a single development in a “vertical zoning” concept.

“Clean industrial activities can occupy the lower floors and co-working spaces the mid-floors, which then creates a buffer for residences on the upper floors,” URA said.

A man looking at a display on commercial "polycentres", which are new spaces outside the Central Business District.

Key polycentres will also be positioned strategically to form “synergistic ecosystems” and efficiently tap nearby transport links, the urban planner added.

For example, the Jurong Lake District will be in close proximity to the Tuas Port and research and development nodes in the western region, while the Northern Gateway — home to new innovative sectors such as agriculture technology and cybersecurity — will have enhanced connection to Johor Bahru in Malaysia via the Rapid Transit System link at Woodlands North.

Taking into account the possible longer-term impact of flexible work arrangements on office space demands, URA plans to introduce selected sites for commercial and office uses with shorter lease tenures.

“This aims to help businesses adapt more nimbly to fast-changing needs, and enable our land uses to be refreshed more quickly.” 

Visitors looking at a display at a public exhibition at The URA Centre on June 6, 2022.

CLEANER TRAVEL, MORE VIBRANT NEIGHBOURHOODS

URA will push towards more sustainable modes of transport, such as by prioritising more road space for public buses and expanding the cycling network.

The authority also plans to make logistics operations more efficient, in light of the rising demand of e-commerce, such as by piloting courier hubs — where goods vehicles will stop at car parks to unload parcels, which will then be delivered to nearby houses by parcel walkers.

Separately, the public may see more community and leisure activities being conducted at schools, as URA looks to expand the Dual-Use Scheme, which allows the public to use school facilities.

It plans to provide more recreational options beyond housing estates, too.

“In line with feedback from Singaporeans, we will explore further unlocking the Southern Islands as our very own tropical island destination over the longer term,” the authority added.

“As a start, parts of the Southern Islands could be activated to pilot new recreation and tourism concepts, including nature and heritage learning journeys, and low-impact eco-accommodations and leisure activities.”

SHAPING IDENTITY, PRESERVING HERITAGE

To build an “endearing and lovable” home for future generations, URA is also paying attention to Singapore’s heritage and sites to grow a wider appreciation and sense of ownership for such spaces.

A Heritage and Identity Structure Plan was developed, mapping out assets from monuments to heartland heritage areas.

“The plan will guide our long-term efforts to protect, enhance and sensitively integrate built heritage into the urban development.”

One key aspect of the authority's strategy is a new concept called "identity corridors" — five distinctive stretches around the island each defined by characteristics such as unique streetscapes and experiences that resonate with Singaporeans. 

The five corridors are Historic East, Thomson-Kallang Corridor, Inner Ring, Rail Corridor, and Southern Ridges and the Coast:

  • Historic East: The corridor of cycling streets that extends to the East Coast will be enhanced with a new festive plaza near Geylang Serai and, possibly, upgraded cycling and walking paths

  • Thomson-Kallang Corridor: Public spaces will be co-created with the community, while Kallang River will have improved accessibility and enhanced landscaping

  • Inner Ring: More walking and cycling spaces could be introduced to encourage exploration of different neighbourhoods along Zion – Kim Seng – Scotts – Newton – Moulmein – Balestier – Lavender – Crawford Roads

  • Rail Corridor: The public is invited to co-conceptualise activity spaces along the corridor to add on to ongoing works to enhance accessibility and greenery

  • Southern Ridges and the Coast: Ideas are welcome to shape the 10km promenade into a distinctive public space that connects the Greater Southern Waterfront to its surrounding area.

Apart from these plans, the Space for Our Dreams exhibition will also showcase the authority’s environmental stewardship and sustainability plans, and concept proposals for the Paya Lebar Air Base site, which will be vacated in the 2030s.

Members of the public may view the exhibition at The URA Centre on Maxwell Road from Mondays to Saturdays, or go online to see it and submit their feedback at go.gov.sg/ltprexhibit.

Related topics

urban planning URA environment housing heritage

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