Clara is currently in her third year of the LLB Global Law programme at Queen Mary University of London, on a year abroad at the National University of Singapore. Read Clara’s blog post to find out more about one of the world’s most cutting edge cities & what makes studying here so special!
The Lion City. The most expensive, and once the most instagrammable city in the world. An international business and finance hub. That dazzling place where they filmed ‘Crazy Rich Asians’. Singapore is known as all of these things. However, what I have found most fascinating of all since moving here for my year abroad, is that Singapore is also The Garden City. The Smart Nation. The City of the Future. In this post, I will take you through a few examples of how this small country, about half the size of London, has come to acquire these inspiring nicknames. The answer lies in Singapore’s fun and unique approach to sustainability and technology, which make it a bucket list destination.
*Note: All photographs taken by Clara expect for image 3 above, which is the Shiseido Forest, taken from Jewel Changi Airport Website and the header image, taken by Jess Tan of the Global Opportunities Office.
One of the most noticeable features when first arriving in Singapore is all the beautiful buildings with cascading greenery in the middle of them. At first I just thought it was creative. That was before I found out that the government’s LUSH Programme requires buildings in certain locations to replace 100% of the area built on, with greenery throughout the building. Then I thought it was incredibly impressive. This means that the greenery that is lost on the ground due to building construction, is replaced with elements such as rooftop gardens, green walls, and urban farms throughout that same building. Some famous examples of buildings that have taken this requirement to the next level include the Park Royal Hotel on Upper Pickering St, the CapitaSpring, the Oasia Hotel Downtown, and the Eden Apartments.
That being said, the most iconic symbols of green architecture in Singapore would still have to be the Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay and the Shiseido Forest Valley at Jewel Changi Airport. The Supertree Grove resembles what you would find in the Avatar films, even more so every evening during Garden Rhapsody, a mesmerising light and sound show I will never get tired of seeing. The twelve steel supertrees are essentially vertical gardens that present a new way of growing and displaying over 200 species of plants. The tallest supertree reaches the height of a 16-storey building, and seven of these twelve supertrees are designed to harvest solar energy which is then used to light up the trees. As for Shiseido Forest Valley at Terminal 1, this large indoor forest garden featuring the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, is one of the most peaceful places to relax, dine, and shop amidst one of
the world’s busiest airports. Not only that, but there are also walking trails to explore and a canopy park including bouncing nets. Singapore is truly living up to its goal of becoming a city in a garden.
Car Ownership Regulations
Another way Singapore promotes sustainability is through its car ownership regulations. In an effort to reduce the number of cars, the government makes the cost of owning one incredibly expensive. Starting with the base cost of the car, this can be five times more than the retail price in the United States. For example, the current cost of a Tesla Model 3 in the United States is about $43,000 USD, whereas it costs about $86,500 USD in Singapore. The Toyota Corolla is around $21,000 USD in the United States but around $110,000 USD in Singapore. These are just two examples from popular models but the list goes on. On top of this, car owners also have to pay a number of additional fees and taxes, one of which is the Certificate of Entitlement (COE). This allows a car owner to register and use their car for 10 years, after which the car must be deregistered or the COE must be paid again in order to be renewed. According to the Land Transport Authority, the average cost of the COE for a basic car is around $53,000 USD. A final point worth mentioning are off-peak car schemes. There are three categories that restrict car usage at different hours and in return for opting into one of these schemes, car owners enjoy savings such as reduced taxes and discounted insurance rates. Overall, these regulations bring the car ownership rate in Singapore to 11% as compared to 80% in the United States and
50% in Europe.
At last, alongside Singapore’s eco-friendly efforts, are its exciting attractions featuring cutting edge technology that reinforce its title as The City of the Future. So far, some of my favourites have been the Light to Night Festival, the Wings of Time show at Sentosa, and the ArtScience Museum. The use of lasers, sensors, and trick eye projectors help bring these projects to life. The Light to Night Festival brought marvellous light displays to the facades of emblematic buildings in Singapore while Wings of Time features some of the most stunning water projections I have ever seen. The ArtScience Museum frequently brings on new exhibits highlighting trends from the art and science worlds. Examples of interactive pieces include nature displays like flowers and butterflies that scatter upon beyond touched and a big screen picturing a digital forest. Visitors can scan their plant and animal drawings to see them appear on the screen and interact with other creations. Some tech related attractions I still look forward to visiting include Scentopia, a perfume factory where visitors can make their own fragrances, and the virtual reality gallery at the