Singaporeans will soon be able to enjoy bigger and livelier public spaces, as part of the Government's bid to create a liveable and community-oriented nation.
They will also be able to stroll around some of Singapore's oldest historical buildings and spaces in a car-free zone, when roads in the area encompassing Empress Place and Esplanade Park are closed.
This was the highlight of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Draft Master Plan 2013 unveiled on Friday for the Civic and Cultural District by the Bay. The area is home to significant landmarks such as the former Supreme Court, City Hall building, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and the Asian Civilisations Museum.
Some proposed ideas that will take place over the next two years include paving Old Parliament Lane and Empress Lane to integrate the Asian Civilisations Museum and Victoria Theatre.
There are also plans to close surrounding roads from vehicular traffic for special events in the historic and cultural area or during the weekends.
This is not without precedent. For instance, St Andrew's Road, which runs alongside the Padang, has been closed during the Formula One Grand Prix.
Connaught Drive will also be narrowed by a lane, while through-traffic will be diverted away. Tour buses that stop along it will be directed to Marina Centre coach park.
The Formula One race track at Fullerton Road, in front of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, could also be realigned to create a spacious public arena.
Other proposals include connecting these public spaces to nearby landmarks like Raffles City, Marina Bay and Fort Canning Park.
Pedestrians can also find shade with more benches and trees planted. Playgrounds, public art as well as infrastructure to support pop-up structures for events will be built too.
The URA is seeking the public's feedback on these proposals, which should be implemented together with the opening of the new National Art Gallery and refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall - just in time for Singapore's 50th Jubilee celebrations.
In the longer term, proposals to close Anderson Bridge, Fullerton Road, St Andrew's Road and Parliament Place temporarily are on the drawing board.
URA has also earmarked four smaller public spaces for enhancement. The sites are at The Lawn @ Marina Bay, spaces along the Singapore River Promenade, an open space in Kampong Glam and Woodlands Civic Plaza.
Up to 10 ideas for these spaces will stand to win $1,000 each in a design competition held from Friday to Feb 14 next year.
Separately, the URA will start another initiative in February to determine where benches made from the former National Stadium's seating planks should be placed.
Currently, some of these benches can be found at Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay and by the Singapore River.