Think out of the box for Greater Southern Waterfront developments

It is preposterous that St James Power Station's landlord Mapletree is planning to refurbish the national monument into an office complex, especially considering the site's potential as a lifestyle, cultural and entertainment hot spot (Live, work, play: Life by the water calls; Oct 21).

In fact, most of the ideas thrown up for the Southern Gateway of Asia lack fire and imagination, in contrast to the other developments in the world.

Such examples include the Saadiyat Cultural-Marina District and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, as well as the decrepit former Bankside Power Station in London that has been living it up for almost 20 years as the Tate Modern.

For far too long, tackiness has peppered much of our tourist offerings.

It is time to develop Singapore with greater self-confidence, flair, style and taste.

The Greater Southern Waterfront can be cast as the crucible of Singapore's holistic growth and development as a magnetic contemporary Renaissance city-state of commerce, culture and the good life in the Indo-Pacific region - similar to what Venice and its islands were to Europe at its peak centuries ago.

It will be the primary catalyst of what may be an eventual transformation of Singapore's entire southern coastal region - as part of an expanded central business, civic, cultural-entertainment and lifestyle district stretching from Orchard Road and Bras Basah to HarbourFront and Sentosa.

For example, the site where the HarbourFront Centre sits today could be redeveloped into a leading global destination for the world's yachting community, with the Singapore Cruise Centre moved to either the Tuas-Jurong or Changi-Tanah Merah precincts to support their respective redevelopments as key sub-districts of the downtown core region over the next few decades.

The water channel between Pulau Brani and the old Tanjong Pagar port can be one huge composition of individual public pools, with a beach on one side and public and private bathhouses and beach clubs on the other.

The proposal to set up a memorial for Singapore's port history may easily be etched and spotlighted on the walls of some new and old developments as an outdoor walking exhibition at the former port.

It is really not too difficult to fill in the blanks of this jigsaw puzzle with cogent creative synergy once the vision to transcend the same old formulaic offerings such as shopping, eating, drinking and working on this little red dot is clear.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2018, with the headline 'Think out of the box for Greater Southern Waterfront developments'. Print Edition | Subscribe