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Regulating design in Singapore: a survey of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme


  • Kah-Wee Lee


This paper is a survey of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme in Singapore as a mechanism through which design aspects of private developments are regulated by the state. By comparing specifications in tender documents with what was eventually built, and tracing how much design weighed in the awarding of tenders, the survey shows how design regulations moved from an experimental phase in the 1960s when controls were sparse and discretionary, to being institutionalised by the 1980s, when controls became comprehensive, precise, and technical. Still, this did not translate planning visions directly into reality, as developers and architects successfully made counterproposals during and after the tender process. By examining the Integrated Resort development at Marina Bay against shifts in political culture and economic conditions in the 1990s, this paper concludes by arguing that the state deployed the GLS programme to procure ‘iconic’ buildings while excluding public involvement from actual design-review processes.

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  • Kah-Wee Lee, 2010. "Regulating design in Singapore: a survey of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 28(1), pages 145-164, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envirc:v:28:y:2010:i:1:p:145-164

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    Cited by:

    1. Kah-Wee Lee, 2014. "Feeling like a State: Design Guidelines and the Legibility of ‘Urban Experience’ in Singapore," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(1), pages 138-154, January.
    2. Gavin Shatkin, 2014. "Reinterpreting the Meaning of the ‘Singapore Model’: State Capitalism and Urban Planning," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(1), pages 116-137, January.

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