In Singapore, where more than 80% of its residents live in public housing, the government’s commitment to sustainable urban design could have a huge impact. When it is a tropical country, convenience and air conditioning have become a way of life, the impact may be even greater.

Tengah, an ecological town, is expected to build 42000 new houses in five residential areas. Although it is located in the western part of the island, it means “middle” in Malay. It will become the 24th new settlement built by the Singapore government since the Second World War. However, this is the first facility with centralized cooling, automatic garbage collection and car free town centers, and environmentalists hope that the roadmap can provide a roadmap for reducing carbon emissions in Southeast Asian urban countries.

Because of its rich green plants and public gardens, the development is known by officials as a “forest town”. Once the site of a brick factory, it was later used for military training. In recent years, the 700 hectare (2.7 square miles) site has been reclaimed by a vast secondary forest. A 328 foot wide ecological “corridor” will be maintained through its center, providing safe passage for wildlife and connecting one catchment to the other.

Singapore's planned road network and "smart" Technology City

Chong Fook Loong, head of the research and planning group of Singapore’s housing and development board (HDB), said the project had proved the goal of urban planners advocating green design principles and “smart” technologies.

“Tengah is a clean place,” he said in a video interview Roads, parking lots and utilities were pushed below the city center, he explained. “What we are pursuing is the ideal concept of traffic isolation, where many facilities are transferred underground and then completely released for pedestrians. So it’s a very safe environment for everyone. “

“We want a town that allows walking and cycling in a very friendly way,” he added In the past three to five years, bicycles have been “taking off” in Singapore, he said.

Chong said the master plan would install electric vehicle charging stations, while streets would also be “future oriented” to accommodate emerging technologies.

He said: “when we plan the road network, we assume that self driving cars and autopilot cars will become a realistic future.”

Reduce refrigeration energy consumption

According to Singapore’s National Climate Change Secretariat, Singapore’s per capita emissions are higher than those of Britain, China and neighboring Malaysia, despite its relatively small population of less than 6 million.

This is partly due to air conditioning, which accounts for more than one third of the typical household energy consumption. Global warming will only exacerbate this dependence. The Singapore meteorological service (MSS) predicts that by the end of this century, in the warmest eight months of New York State, “almost every day”, the average daily temperature in the city state may reach at least 34.1 degrees Celsius (93.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Therefore, keeping cool will increasingly become a necessity for residents. Instead of demonizing air conditioning, Tengah’s planners are trying to reinvent it. Cold water using solar cooling will be delivered through houses in the area, which means that residents do not need to install inefficient outdoor AC condensers (although they can still control the temperature in their apartments).

According to sggroup, the project’s energy supplier, this will save carbon dioxide, equivalent to 4500 cars off the road each year. The state-owned energy company’s report shows that nine out of the next 10 residents have signed a centralized cooling agreement among the apartments that have been sold in advance.

Planners use computer modeling to simulate wind flow and heat gain throughout the town, thereby helping to reduce the so-called urban heat island effect (that is, human activities and buildings make urban areas significantly hotter than the surrounding natural environment). In other places, when the public place is not occupied, the “smart” light will go out, and the garbage will be centrally stored, and the monitor will detect when the garbage needs to be collected.

“Instead of using trucks to collect garbage from every block, we will use a pneumatic system to suck all the garbage into a multi block bin,” Chong said “Garbage trucks just need to collect it from bins.”

Of the 42000 houses built in Tengah, more than 70% will be provided with long-term rental through the housing authority. Currently, two bedroom apartments start at S $108000 (US $82000) and the first batch will be completed in 2023.

All residents have access to an app that allows them to monitor their energy and water consumption. SG said digital displays in each block would also inform residents of their overall impact on the environment and might even encourage competition between residential areas.

Perrine Hamel, assistant professor of the school of Asian environment at Nanyang University of technology, said that whether the use of intelligent technology can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and allow residents to consume by themselves can trigger behavior change. She added that this is a key part of Singapore’s goal of peaking emissions by 2030 and reducing them thereafter.

“Thinking about food consumption and how people use air conditioning are both part of achieving climate goals,” she said “Changing behavior will become an integral part of it. Of course, urban design is the first way to influence and change behavior.”

Connect with nature

For Hamel, the integration of nature and residential areas – creating “more opportunities for people to interact with nature” – is a special aspect of the project. In addition to the forest corridor mentioned above, the residents of the project will also carry out community agriculture in the so-called plantation area.

Hamel said that in addition to promoting and protecting biodiversity, protecting the nature of the area could lead to further behavioral changes.

“Many examples from around the world show that changing our relationship with nature through everyday encounters really helps people take environmental action,” she said “In this respect, I think the master plan is actually doing very well.”

Nevertheless, the nature society of Singapore (NSS) criticized the plan to protect too few (less than 10%) of the existing forests in the area. Environmental groups have proposed two additional “core forest areas” at both ends of the green corridor to promote biodiversity and protect migratory species.

The government said it was “refining” its plan based on the NSS report, although the land transport authority of Singapore has since revealed that more remaining forest (about 3% of the proposed corridor) will be cut down to make way for the road connecting the viaduct from the town to the nearby expressway.

However, even Tengah’s critics generally welcomed the eco Town, and New South Wales (NSS) concluded its criticism of the eco town by noting that it was still “inspired by this bold plan”.

The implications of these urban design initiatives for the rest of Singapore remain to be seen. When Tengah was first announced in 2016, it was the first new town announced by the Singapore government in 20 years, meaning that all other communities were designed earlier than the era of autopilot and Internet amenities. Chong readily admits that it is not easy to retrofit the underground road network and pneumatic refuse chute in existing towns.

But when asked what Tengah’s model would offer for future residential projects, he made a positive impression.

“We will do everything we can to move all the lessons forward,” he said In short, “look at Tengah and you’ll see the future the government is trying to build: the future of the town.”

Editor in charge: PJ

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