Friday, November 27, 2009

Feeding and housing a new Singapore

IT IS a crisis that jumps from today's headlines: rising sea levels threaten to engulf Singapore and make life and economic activity intolerable for its five-million strong population.
While the risk seems real if the climate change experts are to be believed, so is the solution going by the architects at Woha.

The team put its collective heads together with boffins from the National University of Singapore and design firms Black Design and Obilia to devise a nifty answer: a ring of 15m-high dykes along the coastline that can double as freshwater reservoirs to supplement inland lakes.

Their blueprint seems to have all the bases covered. The dykes do not cost taxpayers too much because private developers buying coastal plots for projects have to integrate them into their projects.

As a result, the dykes take on many forms and guises - amusement parks, rolling cliffs, fruit valleys, even padi fields. They become tourist attractions in themselves.

Underground MRT tunnels are moved up as water levels rise but they carry more than just trains in this new world. Multi-level viaducts 15m above the ground stack bicycle lanes and running tracks on top of the train tracks.

And energy supplies are secure because the northern part of the island has become a solar farm. All buildings within the 100sqkm zone are fitted with rooftop mirrors directing sunlight onto a 900m 'energy tower' which then converts the sun's rays to electricity.

In the north-west, waves supply power. Underwater turbines harness the energy from seawater moving through a narrowed channel, built in front of lushly landscaped apartment blocks.

Meanwhile, Jurong has become a plantation to feed Singapore. The industrial buildings of old are stacked underneath fields that grow anything, from rice to coconuts. There are even fish farms within the compact 'plantation'.

The East Coast retains its laid-back charm. High-density housing developments stand above dykes integrated with attractions like seafood farms, scuba-diving schools and spas.

With seafront homes so appealing, older Housing Board flats inland fall out of favour. The vacant HDB blocks are converted to high-rise farms. Each block houses just one or two families, with the rest taken up by pigs, cows and chickens on some levels, and vegetables on others.

Farming, in 2050, has become a new-age industry in a country that has kept the tide at bay.

Source: Straits Times, 27 Nov 2009

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