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Singapore: Livable Density

National Geographic explores living up instead of out

February 28, 2017

Symbol of Singapore, these “Supertrees” belong to a garden display in Marina Bay. The high-tech structures range from 80 to 160 feet and collect solar energy to power a nightly light show. They have a softer side too: their trunks are vertical gardens, laced with more than 150,000 living plants.
Symbol of Singapore, these “Supertrees” belong to a garden display in Marina Bay. The high-tech structures range from 80 to 160 feet and collect solar energy to power a nightly light show. They have a softer side too: their trunks are vertical gardens, laced with more than 150,000 living plants.

Singapore is home to one of the most iconic skylines in the world, thanks in part to Dr. Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of Singapore’s Housing & Development Board and Chief Urban Planner.

In her Q&A with National Geographic, Dr. Hean discusses Singapore’s transformation over the past 50 years. She describes what she calls “livable density” – how cities must grow up (instead of out) while leveraging natural elements to create the illusion of space.

Hean is widely recognized as the visionary architect and urban planner responsible for much of the forward-thinking urbanization taking place in Singapore. Credited with developing one of the most comprehensive conservation programs in Southeast Asia, Hean acted as the driving force behind many policies and plans to integrate public spaces, art and “sky rise” greenery into the cityscape.

Hean is associated with two other notable developments: Marina Bay, Singapore’s central business district, and the Jurong Lake District, which is positioned to become the city’s second business district.

Urban Expeditions is a multiyear project spotlighting the rise of cities and innovative, sustainable solutions for managing urban growth. The initiative was made possible by a grant from United Technologies Corporation to the National Geographic Society.