Urban Planning: Changing the Places We Know

Singapore City during the late afternoonAs the world’s city populations grow, a large number of city spaces are being rebuilt and regenerated as new, sustainable districts. These are only three examples of on-going urban regeneration projects that are changing the face of cities.

Paya Lebar, Singapore

This city fringe precinct was once a quiet residential area until the MRT Circle Line was built. What followed was the construction of the existing SingPost Centre and two other shopping malls—Paya Lebar Quarter being the latest addition to transform the area into a sizeable commercial centre with attractive public spaces that cater to businesses that do not need to be located within the CBD.

Given the go-ahead on redevelopment by the government authorities, an ambitious project has begun. Expanding from the MRT interchange will be a vast green public space that will give rise to hip cafés, cutting-edge retail and business spaces, and a high-end condominium. Paya Lebar is on its way to becoming the next enclave of the young, the professionals, and the upwardly mobile.

Barangaroo, Sydney

Barangaroo was once a part of Sydney Harbour. By the 1970s, ships had already grown too huge for the site. In its last days of use, Barangaroo was a temporary terminal for cruise liners. Today this 22-hectare concrete site is being transformed into a financial centre. Sitting on the edge of Sydney’s Central Business District, the evolution seems natural. What used to be a massive grey slab of concrete will one day be the greenest financial district Australia will ever see.

Elephant Park, London

This area was once a dilapidated, crime-infested brutalist style flat estate. Elephant Park was a symbol of urban decay, having been used as filming location for apocalyptic films like ‘World War Z’ and the street gang-horror flick ‘AttackThe Block’. The area suffered from a poor image and poor quality buildings erected after World War II. In 2002, the district council finally took the decision to remove certain structures so they could redesign the entire town.

Today it is being redeveloped from the ground up. The master plan is to turn this grey shopping district into the new green heart of Central London, a vast array of green spaces that will house 3,000 new homes, schools, over 50 shops and restaurants, 1,200 trees, and a new hope for the young people living here.

Cities are now trying to combine new ideas of urban life into their designs. Open spaces, new public buildings, and transport facilities are now part of city planning to recreate urban spaces for the future.