Good urban design increasingly important: Heng Swee Keat

"The growth of Asia will result in rapid urbanisation and more demand for infrastructure and buildings," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.
"The growth of Asia will result in rapid urbanisation and more demand for infrastructure and buildings," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

It can boost city's identity, help Singapore overcome space constraints and competing needs, says minister

Singapore needs to continue finding innovative and sustainable ways to improve its urban design, given its space constraints and competing needs for residences, industries, leisure and amenities, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

This was one of three areas, on top of productivity and technology, which the Republic can capitalise on, he said at the launch of a three-day event on architecture and building services at Marina Bay Sands.

"The growth of Asia will result in rapid urbanisation and more demand for infrastructure and buildings," said Mr Heng. Asean is projected to become the fourth-largest single market by 2030, he said, and Asia is expected to continue being the world's fastest-growing region.

Work to improve regional collaboration is already taking place, with Singapore setting up an Infrastructure Asia office to help match demand and supply in infrastructure projects by bringing together local and international players, among other initiatives, Mr Heng said.

There are three areas Singapore can target to become a more liveable city, he added.

First, good urban design will become even more important as it can boost a city's character and identity as such spaces become similar in an increasingly globalised world.

"Singapore faces land and space constraints, with competing needs for residences, industries, leisure and amenities," he added. "But good urban design enables us to turn this into an advantage, enhancing our vibrancy and attractiveness as a city."

Second, advancements in urban design will require more productive methods, he said.

There has been good progress on this front, with site productivity in the construction sector improving by 12 per cent from 2010 to last year, he added, referring to the amount of floor area completed per man day.

Construction firms are also taking on more efficient means, such as prefabrication, said Mr Heng.

The adoption of the "design for manufacturing and assembly" concept, which moves work traditionally done onsite to an offsite factory environment, doubled from 10 per cent in 2016 to almost 20 per cent last year, he said, as Singapore looks ahead to a target of 40 per cent adoption by 2020.

Third, Singapore needs to keep up with the accelerating pace of technological advancement. "To continue building Singapore into a green, highly liveable and smart city, our stakeholders in our design and built environment and facilities management must come together and collaborate," said Mr Heng.

At the start of yesterday's event, Mr Tony Khoo, president of the Singapore chapter of the International Facility Management Association, cited how train and lift breakdowns in recent years highlighted the critical role his industry played in the daily lives of Singaporeans.

Facilities management has been identified as a critical industry that needs to be reorganised and modernised, he said, calling on his counterparts to rise to the challenge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2018, with the headline 'Good urban design increasingly important: Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe