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Reclaiming the City


  • T. C. Chang
  • Shirlena Huang


In its quest to be a world city, many of Singapore’s urban spaces have been subjected to constant redevelopment. Derelict waterfronts and ageing neighbourhoods have been given new life, enjoying their reincarnation as landscapes of economy and leisure. A prevalent theme in Singapore’s transformation has been the reclamation of landscapes to cater to new users, activities and agendas. Adopting a case study of the Singapore River waterfront, this paper analyses three forms of urban reclamation. They include reclaiming functionality, aimed at infusing the waterfront with new land uses; reclaiming access, as a way of opening up the landscape to more people; and reclaiming the local, as a way to commemorate local cultures and histories. While government planners and private enterprise are intent on developing a world-class environment, Singaporeans and visitors respond to this urban vision in different ways with some praising the dynamism of worldly transformations and others criticising them as a prelude to a soulless city. While some degree of worldliness is essential in any redevelopment, a fine balance has to be sought between the excesses of global urbanism and the parochialism of vernacular concerns.

Suggested Citation

  • T. C. Chang & Shirlena Huang, 2011. "Reclaiming the City," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 48(10), pages 2085-2100, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:48:y:2011:i:10:p:2085-2100

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