In an area of Singapore once home to a brickworks and military training facilities, a vision of the future of urban living is taking shape.
The country is building what it calls its first smart and sustainable town, promising 42,000 homes in an environment where people can be “at home with nature”.
The Tengah project will consist of five residential districts on the 700-hectare site in Singapore’s Western region. Named Garden, Park, Brickland, Forest Hill and Plantation, the areas are designed to improve residents’ health and wellbeing and give them a better quality of life.
How? With smart buildings, greenery everywhere and a prioritisation of walking and cycling that routes motor vehicle traffic underground.
The Tengah project’s new homes and workspaces will be built alongside two other developments, the Jurong Innovation District – for the manufacturing sector – and Jurong Lake District, planned to be the city-state’s second Central Business District.
Dubbed a ‘forest town’ thanks to its abundant green space including areas for community farming, Tengah will feature a 100-metre-wide ‘forest corridor’ that runs through the centre of the town. This will connect a nature reserve and a water catchment area, as well as providing safe passage for wildlife, and a recreational space for residents.
Residents will also be able to travel to neighbouring towns or to the city centre via buses or the planned Jurong Region Line, with the majority of people living within walking distance of a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station.
Tengah will also be the first development built by the Singaporean government to have a car-free town centre, with vehicles running underground to free up space above ground. By separating road traffic from pedestrians, the town centre will be safer for walking, cycling and other recreational activities.
Smart and sustainable
Singapore recently topped the Smart City Index for the second year running – it has long been known as one of Asia’s greenest.
Computer simulations have been used to design buildings and precincts to optimise wind flow and minimise heat, while smart lights will automatically switch off in unoccupied areas in order to reduce energy consumption.
The town will also feature a centralised cooling system in some precincts. Singapore’s Housing & Development Board says this will regulate the temperature in homes and will be more energy-efficient than individual air-conditioning units – significant in a country where air-conditioning typically accounts for a third of household energy use.
Meanwhile automated waste collection will see household rubbish transported down a conveyance system, creating a cleaner and more hygienic living environment and minimising pest infection.
The Housing & Development Board is also working with power company SP Group to examine the possibility of Tengah becoming a ‘smart energy’ town. Using artificial intelligence, SP Group hopes to develop a software system that optimises energy use along with an app that enables residents to accurately monitor their usage.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Cities initiative seeks to help cities rethink their strategies for post-pandemic economic recovery and building a more sustainable and resilient future for their citizens.
The initiative encourages public-private collaboration on solutions addressing the political, economic and social challenges posed by COVID-19, alongside advancing new frameworks and policy tools for improved planning.
The G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance, for example, brings together government bodies, private-sector partners and residents to discuss shared principles for the responsible and ethical use of smart-city technologies.
Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of the Internet of Things and Urban Transformation platform works with more than 100 global partners to help ensure that connected devices and smart technologies are used to create a future that is more sustainable, prosperous and resilient for all.