Applying Spatial Justice in Singapore
Contesting Urban Spaces
The struggle over geography and place is not new to Singapore. It is just that the Internet has made it harder to ignore the voices of those who are embracing their right to shape the environment they live and work in and those who recognise the value of conservation and the necessity of sustainability. This has resulted in renewed vigour in urban spatial contestations.
Paradise Once Lost, Can’t Be Regained
by Paul Gilfeather (original link here)
While major cities around the world search for the money and means to establish quality green spaces for its population, Singapore appears to have hit the jackpot with the closure of the Malaysian railway line.
As the last train pulled out of Tanjong Pagar Station in July there was an outpouring of sadness as Singaporeans young and old turned out to mark the end of another chapter in the country’s history.
Now, as the planners and politicians fix their sights on the future of the now-defunct track, the environmental lobby has stolen a march by unveiling their “green corridor” concept. The genius and beauty of the proposal is in its simplicity. The plan is to do absolutely nothing to the stretch of natural beauty and I can’t help but feel excited at the prospect.
With four-fifths of Singapore being created within the last 25 years, campaigners say the Government has a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to maintain an existing site, as opposed to creating or developing a new one which would not function as it’s supposed to. They point to the recently-developed public spaces around Marina Bay and argue that they do not serve their intended purpose of providing quality, open space for ordinary Singaporeans to relax, engage with nature or take part in leisurely activities.
The 135th and final space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, concluding 30 years of shuttle missions launched from US soil. The shuttle mission will transport 3.5 tonnes of supplies (including 2 iPhone 4s loaded with apps to conduct experiments) to the diverse crew comprising Russians, Americans and Japanese at the International Space Station. While this would mean a hiatus for NASA space travel for awhile, other countries and private companies (like Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Virgin Galactic and Northrop Grumman) might takeover the helm in funding, developing and organizing future space travel to satiate man’s unquenchable desire to explore the stars, democratizing space travel.
You can view the roller coaster timeline, littered with both amazing triumphs and shattering tragedies, of the space shuttle here.
Deenis Overbye from the New York Times also commented in this short essay about how the space shuttle program was perhaps more of a social and political endeavor, rather than a scientific one.
Most of the scientists I know would be thrilled to see humans exploring space, landing on Mars, for example — they just don’t think that science should pick up the check. Many of them were suspicious of the shuttle, both because of the cost drain and because making instruments like the space telescope compatible with it would compromise the potential science, restricting them to low earth orbit, for example, and making them hostage to the exigencies of human spaceflight.
But politically, if not technically, the shuttle and the space telescope needed each other.
Why do you think humans desire to travel into space when there is so much undiscovered here on Earth?
What do you think about future space travel being funded and organized by private corporations instead of governments?
A lighthearted entry. I’m sure we’re familiar with the shopping mall–Singapore is brimming with these enclosed spaces of multi-floored material wonder and consumerist glitz. However, are you familiar with what sort of behavioral considerations go beyond the spatial design of such modern day constructs of temptation? Watch the video above to get a brief idea.
Are the ideas presented in the video applicable to your own shopping experiences?
Recall your own shopping experiences and share other ways you think shopping malls are designed to make people spend.
On a deeper note: Do buildings affect social behavior? Or is it the other way round?
A New York State of Mind: Urban Brains Behave Differently from Rural Ones
(Original link from the Economist here)
“HELL is a city much like London,” opined Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819. Modern academics agree. Last year Dutch researchers showed that city dwellers have a 21% higher risk of developing anxiety disorders than do their calmer rural countrymen, and a 39% higher risk of developing mood disorders. But exactly how the inner workings of the urban and rural minds cause this difference has remained obscure—until now. A study just published in Nature by Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the University of Heidelberg and his colleagues has used a scanning technique called functional magnetic-resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the brains of city dwellers and country bumpkins when they are under stress.