In our Future Cities series, we sit down with prominent architects from across the Asia Pacific. In this segment, Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects shares his visions and dreams of a future city.
“The pandemic has highlighted vast inequalities across different socio-economic classes. The low- income are more severely impacted in mobility, housing and education. In the absence of good governance, people in a neighbourhood must depend on one another for recovery. Urban designers must consider clustering more public support amenities. For people who wish to escape isolation in their homes, city sidewalks and parks are an escape route. Sidewalks could merge with parking spaces to become shared, expansive spaces. In the meantime, a robust vaccine rollout may allow us to resume travel and social interaction. A repurposing of space will follow. However, I am not sure if all these will lead to a radical rethink of design. Advances in vaccine development may see us returning to our old social habits, thus rendering any radical changes in architecture unnecessary.
I would like to revitalise the Orchard Road streetscape where most pedestrian activities have been diverted subterranean to connect with the MRT network. For a successful commercial lifestyle hub, we need to bring human activity back on the streets and sidewalks in a sustained manner – by redesigning them into public spaces.
Currently, the five-lane traffic at Orchard Road bisects the shopping zone into distinct halves. I would propose broadening the Ngee Ann City sidewalk by an entire car lane. A second car lane will become curbside drop-off for passengers. The enlarged sidewalk can then be zoned for food and beverage kiosks with al fresco sitting, so that people can dine late into the night even after retail has closed.
Landscape design will consciously create shade and shelter. With increased human traffic, Orchard Road will become livelier. This will be done at the expense of traffic flow, but it has been proven that reducing traffic in a major area improves the human experience. This trade-off is worthwhile for the revitalisation of the Orchard district.”