World Cities Summit to explore creative place-making

Cultural centres from the civic district to Kampong Glam to the Botanic Gardens are what make Singapore more than just a place to live and work. Such integration of arts and culture into city planning will take centre stage at a forum here involving 120 mayors and city leaders from around the world.

"It is the inclusion of the cultural element that makes concrete buildings our homes and gives our people a collective sense of place and identity," Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu told The Sunday Times ahead of today's start of the World Cities Summit Singapore. For the first time, participants will discuss ways to enhance the cultural development of cities by designating or creating places that add to their distinctive identities.

This process, called creative place-making, is an integral part of Singapore's efforts to not only raise participation in cultural activities but also to engage and educate people on the country's history and heritage, said Mrs Rosa Daniel, chief executive officer of the National Heritage Board (NHB). She said that places such as Kampong Glam and the Indian Heritage Centre go beyond showcasing Singapore's cultural and creative offerings. "By place-managing effectively, we can have authentic citizen engagement. We are making cultural locations highly accessible, by working around the people's needs," she said.

Mr Michael Koh, fellow at the Centre for Liveable Cities, said that city planning included considering both the hardware and "heartware". "Social resilience is about bringing people together. It can be done by having the physical infrastructure, but equally important is the heartware - the food, sports and festivals - the common threads that tie us together."

Mrs Daniel also pointed out how technology could be integrated into creative place-making efforts. She gave the example of how mobile apps are becoming more common in facilitating community-driven heritage trails such as the Food Heritage Trail in Geylang Serai.

A travelling exhibition, called In Sight, is part of the summit. It features 3D visualisations of 27 of Singapore's national monuments. Organised by the NHB, it was done in cooperation with Italian photographer Alberto Fanelli, who took the photos and created 3D images with them. Visitors can view the images using 3D glasses. They can study the carefully restored ornamentation on the roof of Yueh Hai Ching Temple, and explore the inside of Maghain Aboth Synagogue, which is rarely open to the public. Other national monuments featured include Sultan Mosque, the former St Joseph's Institution and Raffles Hotel .

The free exhibition is being held at Level 4 of Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which is hosting the summit until Thursday. The biennial summit is jointly organised by the Centre for Liveable Cities and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 10, 2016, with the headline 'World Cities Summit to explore creative place-making'. Print Edition | Subscribe