Ways Forward

  • Peter G. RoweEmail author
  • Limin Hee
Open Access


Beside Singapore’s recent glamorous rise in notable architecture and urban design, centres of activity, event curation and other urban enterprises, the rise of the ‘green-blue’ planning and implementation since the early 1990s is perhaps its most truly distinctive and notable achievement in comparative terms with elsewhere in the world. By all accounts and certainly those discussed here, it has been and is truly remarkable, making Singapore a world leader. Much of this and further success can be attributed to the particular nurturing of Singaporean habits of mind, or what can be referred to as ’Kiasu’ (“afraid of losing” and “afraid of being static and needing to move on”) with large doses of pragmatism, incremental effectiveness, doggedness and collective independence of opinion. Lurking behind is also a strong belief in the perfectibility of cities and that well-laid plans can be successfully carried out along with the technology needed to support them. While often leading to clean-cut and relatively narrow norms and ways of life, overall betterment has ensued for many if not most. Leadership, political will, visionary insight, clarity and directness in co-ordination among public and private agencies has come to the fore, with little wasted energy and outcomes. In the future, both internal and external challenges will undoubtedly emerge. Further buy-in by the public to Singapore as a truly ‘city in nature’ will require attention and public conversation. The result, however, also seems likely to be one of a kind, or if the rest of the world is shrewder in its choices, the first among many of its kind.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of DesignHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC)SingaporeSingapore

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