Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Sky Is The Limit

Dense – there are 4.6 million of us sharing this little red dot.
Denser – there will be 6.0 million of us sharing the same little red dot.
How will that change our cityscape?
Upwards, of course, you say.
Why not downward? I ask.

Singapore’s tallest skyscrapers are the Republic Plaza, the OUB Centre and the UOB Plaza One. All of them are standing at 280m tall. Thanks to height limit set by the CAAS, our buildings aren’t growing any taller than that.

Other tall siblings in the private residential family are The Sail @ Marina Bay Tower 1 at 245m (70-storey) and Tower 2 at 215m (63-storey) and both due for completion in 2009. In the same year, the tallest HDB flats at 152m (50-storey) at Duxton Plain will greet Singapore too. The vertical race, I am sure, will not end here.

Height Phobia? Nah!
The Frenchman Alain Robert recently came to Singapore on the invitation of SPH for the ST anniversary. The ‘Spiderman’ wowed a 15000 spellbound crowd when he scaled the 176m Suntec Tower One on 16 Aug 08. He started climbing up buildings when he was 12 and his other affairs with tall buildings include the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House and Taipei 101. Without any doubt, he loves tall buildings and he shows it by scaling them.

Tall buildings are mesmerizing, not just to the Alain Robert. Singaporeans equate high living to living high. Having a dwelling place up above everybody else is viewed favorably. Such upward drive is seen in some buildings which deliberately create a huge ‘void deck’ just to jack the building upwards.

How Low Can You Go?
Despite the expression ‘the sky is the limit’, we know our buildings are to be stunted at a preset height. Interestingly, I have not heard of any depth limit imposed for subterranean structures. Have you? I assume that the authorities are not in a hurry to set such a limit as we are not desperate to create more space by digging out soil. One thing for sure, any building going downwards would have to let go the much loved panoramic view and for that matter, any view. (Is there such thing as worms view?)

CityLink Mall at Marina Centre is a rare example of buildings totally ‘submerged’ underground. I can understand why the land scarce Singapore is not showing much enthusiasm in moving far below the ground level. With problems such as ventilation, waterproofing, drainage and insulation, going downwards can pose great challenges – not that Singaporeans can’t wait to live like the Hobbits, in some underground enclosures.

It seems that we are not heading south any time soon.

You ask me what I love
I say,
The splendid view from above
You ask is that true
I hesitate,
Glazing at the sky so blue
You ponder and are unsure
I nod
Such was not a lure

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