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This book presents possible alternatives and interpretations to the well established notion in the mostly western discourse on public space. The discourse on public space as understood in the democratic-rationalist tradition, when applied to the Singaporean public space, would offer much criticism but would not be adequate in identifying alternative processes that allow for transformative potentials in public space. Thus said, the objectives of this book are: 1. To develop a conceptual frame of reference to construct the discourse on Singapore public space 2. To form a preliminary model of Singapore public space through analyzing case studies 3. To understand the modes, methods of production and representation of these public spaces within the rapidly changing urban context 4. To situate these constructions of public space and its possible trajectories within the larger discourse on public space, and to examine the viability of such a construction and interpretive model of public space

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction to Study

Abstract
The author provides a background and a context to the study of public space in Singapore, an Asian ‘development city-state’ and regional hub in the global space of flows. The introduction presents possible alternatives and interpretations to the well-established notions of public space, especially those featured in the western discourse of democratic-rationalist public space. The reader would find a review of the general discourse on public space, a focused discussion on thinking about models of public sphere as established in the modern western discursive discourse of Jürgen Habermas, the subsequent arguments that are based on that discourse, and how these have implications on our current conception and definition of public space. The author suggests that the western discourse on public space is inadequate to explain how public space functions in the context of a city in Asia, which has a different cultural, social and historical orientation than cities arising from the European tradition. These differences include overlapping phenomena, such as the relationship of the state and its citizens, the rise of civil society, the forging of identities of “invisible” foreign workers and the forms of changing spatial practices. The chapter concludes with an overview of the selection of the case studies presented later in the study using conceptual “frames” that piece together the different aspects of processes, parti (form), program and (spatial) practices that come together in the production of public space.
Limin Hee

Chapter 2. The State, People and the History of Urban Public Space in Singapore

Abstract
This chapter provides a historical account of Singapore as the pragmatic model of the “developmental city-state,” detailing trajectories of Singapore’s national and urban development from the colonial era, the post-colonial period of its Independence, into the present. The dominance of the state is characteristic of the Singapore model, with the economic development of the nation deemed as more important than the valorization of individual freedom. The nature of government in Singapore, the influence of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew and his promotion of neo-Confucian ethics in the forging of national values, and the phenomena of a national middle-class, constitute a particular political and social milieu in which the production of public spaces has taken place over the last few decades. The particular type of beginnings of the state in relation to the provision of public spaces has had a lasting impact on the built environment of Singapore. This chapter outlines the history of public spaces in Singapore, leading up to more contemporary urban developments.
Limin Hee

Chapter 3. Case Studies

Abstract
This chapter presents three case studies that have been selected to take into account historical context, scale, programmatic type, formal characteristics and the social value of such spaces. The sites are Orchard Road, the most important shopping street and representational space of the cosmopolitan image of the city; Little India, the hub of Indian social and cultural life in Singapore; and public housing, where a whole new plethora of public spaces have been created. The section on Orchard Road proposes it as the quintessential public space of the city—where different groups are channeled into close proximity—the space of friction as well as the space of appearances. It discusses how notions of authenticity and nostalgia resonate through different scales of engagement. The Little India section provides an exposé of the fluid roles played by public space in relation to community and ethnicity, established and concealed practices in public space, and states of boundedness created through forms of control. The ideas of ‘front’ and ‘back’ activities in public space are framed within notions of gendered spaces, spaces for tourist consumption and spaces of subversion. The case study of public housing provides an analysis of spaces where social practices have been transferred or transformed, due to the nature or distribution of these spaces. These spaces sometimes take on new shapes, but often adapted easily to the new spaces in public housing.
Limin Hee

Chapter 4. Themes and Modes of Production of Singapore Public Space

Abstract
This chapter summarizes and abstracts from the themes brought up in the case studies of Chapter 3, in order to propose a theoretical framework of the dynamic modes and methods of production of public space and spatial practice in Singapore. The framework proposes the types of spatial practices in public space as: (1) Traditions, where the location and form of spatial practice remains unchanged over time, even if its persistence is challenged in some way. (2) Transfers, where there is a change in location of the practices, but not change in form—the spatial practice adapts to the new spaces but with the same social content. (3) Transgressions, where there is a temporary interrogation of established rules and accepted spatial practices. Transgressive spatial practices may have the effect of a catalyst for change over time and repeated acts of transgressions. (4) Transformations, where there is change in the form of the practice, but the spatial practice is still recognizable in its social content. New social content may be introduced, and the spatial and temporal boundaries of these practices are transformed and may even be regarded as new practices. This chapter concludes by relating the framework back to the current social, cultural, and political milieu of Singapore.
Limin Hee

Chapter 5. Rethinking Public Space: The Singapore Model

Abstract
This chapter provides an analytical description of the Singapore model of public space. Highlighting specific aspects such as Singapore’s Asian value system, the rule by consensus approach of the Singapore government and its multiracial society, this chapter argues that Singapore public space is enacted through public-space-in-practice, with spatial practice as the communicative site of conflictual consensus. This chapter introduces new paradigms in Singapore public space that would enable new connectivities and sociabilities to respond to trajectories in Singaporean urban life, such as the impact of an aging population and an increasing reliance on a foreign worker population. It also provides suggestions for the future design of public space, which includes more collaboration between the state, private agencies, and individuals, increased engagement in smart technologies, and biophilic design. This chapter concludes by proposing the Singapore model as an adaptive, emergent model that is an alternative to classical western conceptions of public space, as exemplified by Jürgen Habermas’ model based on “rational-critical discourse”. Thus it could serve as a frame of reference for public spaces under similar systems where a strong, dominant state, weak civil society and pluralistic entities exist.
Limin Hee

Backmatter

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