Vibrant city centre planned

CITY living may in time mean bay views from glass-walled apartments, zipping across a landscaped sky bridge to the office in the next building and unwinding after work with a game of football in a nearby park.  

With Marina Bay as a backdrop, this is how the architects of an ambitious plan to transform the central region of Singapore see life in 10 to 15 years' time. 

These plans for a vibrant city centre are not “nice-to-have” but a “must do”, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said on Thursday as he opened the Urban Redevelopment Authority's exhibition. 

“Cites all over the world are competing aggressively to attract investment, jobs and tourists.” 

The massive area which comes under the plans covers the existing and new downtown areas, Newton, Orchard, River Valley, Tanglin, Bukit Merah, Bukit Timah, Kallang, Marine Parade, Toa Payoh and even the Southern Islands. 

The URA's grand plans are the last of five master plans to be rolled out this year. They are reviewed every five years. 

Into the central region which covers 13,050 ha, the URA proposes to inject 114,000 new homes and lots of new park spaces. 

The crown jewel of this area will be Downtown@Marina Bay, which includes Raffles Place, Shenton Way and Marina Centre and the existing Central Business District, and extends all the way to the reclaimed area of Marina South. 

Anchoring this new downtown will be a business and financial centre, and skyscrapers up to 50 storeys high. 

In Marina South, three distinct areas are being carved out of a 99ha plot, to capture the flavour of famous places abroad. 

It sees Bayfront Avenue, for instance, as a 2km tree-lined street reminiscent of New York's Park Avenue and Paris' Champs Elysees - dotted with cafes, restaurants and shops. 

Singapore Institute of Architects president John Ting sees it as a family playground.  

He said: “They can eat, shop, get entertained and soak in some culture.” 

Architect Liu Thai Ker, who is also the National Arts Council's chairman, sees Downtown@Marina Bay as “a great opportunity to create a piece of artwork”. 

Liu, who was once Singapore's chief planner, said: 'The plans give the city a stronger sense of personality.' 

Both men were part of the group of mainly architects, urban planners and property developers invited to view the plans and offer feedback at the URA's exhibition which is on until July 16. – The Straits Times/ Asia News Network 

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