27 December 2009

Old Singapore Quiz (16) - A Garden City Built But Something's Lost

According to the National Parks website, efforts to turn Singapore into a Garden City started some 4 decades ago. The driving force behind the greening of Singapore was none other than the former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yee who launched the Tree Planting Campaign in 1963.

The following passage was extracted from the "Garden City" entry in the book "Singapore - The Encyclopedia":
"During the 19th century, the jungle was cleared in Singapore, first to make way for agriculture, and later to make room for urban growth. The colonial government introduced street plantings and civic spaces, attempting to preserve the remaining natural vegetation and ameliorate the loss of greenery. This was, however, interrupted by the onset of World War II and the Japanese Occupation.

In 1963, Lee Kuan Yew identified a 'Green Singapore' as a key competitive factor in attracting foreign investment and contributing to the quality of life of Singaporeans. Resources were directed towards building up Singapore's natural environment through the active planting of trees and shrubs along roads, on vacant plots and on new development sites. The Parks and Recreation Department (PRD) was formed in 1976 for this purpose. As most of Singapore's streets were devoid of greenery, the key task of the PRD was to increase the amount of plant and vegetation in public spaces. Fast-growing indigenous trees such as the angsana, rain tree, yellow flame and ketapang were introduced.

The next phase of the Garden City programme saw the cultivation of free-flowering trees and shrubs like frangipani and bougainvillea, which added colour to the landscape. In addition, paved areas, such as car parks, were planted with trees to attenuate the build-up of heat over asphalt surfaces. Concrete structures, such as flyovers, were also planted with creepers, such as the climbing fig.

By the 1980s, Singapore had tree-lined roads interpersed with parks filled with flowering plants and greenery. 'Green lungs' had been created in commercial areas such as the Marina City Park, while developers of residential areas were required to plant roadside trees and set aside land for open space. Parks competed with residential, commercial and industrial developments for land use, and park planners had to consider factors such as the location of population centres and accessibility.

In 1990, the National Parks Board (NParks) was formed, comprising the Singapore Botanic Gardens and research divisions of the PRD. NParks also undertook a major programme to rejuvenate the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Fort Canning Park found new life as a performance venue. Singapore's nature reserves were also given new resources for conservation.

On 1 July 1996, the PRD as a whole merged with NParks. NParks instituted community outreach and education programmes such as the 'Adopt-a-Park' scheme, through which schools and other organizations were encouraged to help tend their own special garden plots with an aim to cultivating a sense of ownership of the natural environment.

As the Garden City took shape. NParks introduced the Heritage Trees concept in 2002 to preserve and maintain prime specimens of old trees, while the Heritage Roads scheme (also launched in 2002) sought to preserve distinctive roadside landscapes.

NParks now manages a hierarchy of parks and open spaces, including nature reserves, roadside greenery and vacant state land. The Park Connector Network, a comprehensive network of park corridors, links major parks and nature areas. To sustain the development of the Garden City, NParks has completed its islandwide Streetscape Greenery Master Plan, which is aimed at creating distinctive landmarks out of future roadside greenery. Skyrise and rooftop greenery is also encouraged as part of the aim to optimize land use. Such features include rooftop gardens, landscaped bridges, terraces, decks and balconies. Other forms of skyrise greenery are plants on flyovers and pedestrian overhead bridges, as well as landscaped gardens above basement carparks."
The above passage is summarised in the following YouTube Video titled "The Garden City Story":



Quiz Question:

Well, that explains the part about building a Garden City. You must now be wondering what the second part of this article's title, "But Something's Lost" is all about. The 1970s photo at the beginning of this article was passed to me by my friend Peter Chan. The pre-war houses in the foreground of the photo had been demolished. Can you identify the place in the photo? As with my 3 previous quizes, the place is in town. (Of course, Peter is automatically barred from participating in this quiz.)

22 comments:

polestar said...

is it somewhere near river valley?

Victor said...

No, Polestar. Not near River Valley.

Andy Young* said...

I remember reading in the newspapers some years back that, "Singapore is a city within a garden."

Is this place within the radius of Outram Road?

Victor said...

No, Andy. It is not near Outram Road. There is a reason why I brought up the subject of Garden City - it gives another clue.

polestar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
polestar said...

actually outram crossed my mind too.. is it some where near hong lim park area?

Victor said...

No, not Hong Lim Park area, Polestar. Hint: Take a closer look at the flats in the background.

Icemoon said...

When I first saw the pic, I thought the background flats look like Rochor Centre. I just checked with the image in Google map, the flats are of the same design.

The view would be to the side of North Bridge Road. Many shophouses there, but got flats meh?

Icemoon said...

To show you guys what I meant, here's the screenshot from Google Earth. Eh, somebody can take it from here?

peter said...

i itchy backside, wan 2 talk but Victor say cannot talk. So i say, hot-cold" icemoon

Icemoon said...

LOL What secret code is that, Peter?

Say I'm right, but I'm not sure which plot of land is that. Cannot be Parkview Square plot 'cos that one was all shophouses. Might be Raffles Hospital plot but I thought that one had Blanco Court. I never seen old photos of the plot opposite Bugis Village. But that one is all-green today.

Icemoon said...

I found two more clues.

1. The completed housing block in the foreground looks like this one beside Blanco Court.

2. If we look at a picture of Bugis Village shophouse, the facade actually bends abruptly at the last part, resembling the shophouse in the left background. Must I mention both facades are similar too?

yg said...

seems to me peter has sent victor a photo of a place which victor was familiar with, and our friend is not queasy about using it for a quiz.

Victor said...

Once again, I am impressed by Icemoon's legendary investigative skills. But where exactly is this location? More specifically, what is the road name for the rows of old shophouses on the left and in the centre of the photo?

Victor said...

YG, I got prior permission from Peter to blog about this photo. I don't understand what is so queasy about that.

Victor said...

Peter, thanks for keeping mum. :-)

Icemoon said...

I checked the old street directory and got more confused. The road alignment matches Johore Road between Queen Street and Victoria Street but the Rochor Centre looks a tat small in the picture. So it could be Swatow Street.

peter said...

Victor got very great IT skills you must remember and with so many softwares available in the market today.......

Icemoon said...

Victor doctored the picture?!

peter said...

Read my lips.............

Lam Chun See said...

Looks familiar but without more clues I am not able to even make a guess. I suspect its nearer to the French Rd, Jln Besar area.

Victor said...

Thank you for all your answers. The quiz answer is out.