Music: What Must Be Done by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis
Walking around Singapore, you’re bound to find such diverging paths. Along a grass patch, a concrete walkway laid out by city planners lie unused, while nearby pedestrians tread an unofficial path through the grass.
In the sandy trails lies the ingenuity of the people in finding their own way out despite a readily available path.
A city just over 700 square kilometres in size, Singapore’s biggest problem is being small. This is why the state has dominated city planning, drawing and re-drawing this city down to where every building, strip of road and tree should be. Such detailed planning, it says, is crucial for economic survival and why it is one of the world’s most business-friendly and comfortable.
Yet, this city struggles to hold its people’s minds and bodies within
official boundaries. Older Singaporeans lament lost memories of their city while younger ones hanker after more space for their opinions and lifestyles. And there are still many others amongst the population of 4.8 million who want something else.
Will city planners be able to meet these diverse needs?
Our stories find in the everyday life, the ordinary people’s resilience in creating their own spaces in a city where everything is planned. Just like how the state reclaims land for its plans, so have its people. Reclaiming space ultimately allows us to redraw the map of Singapore, to re-imagine a new geography — our geography, undaunted by the smallness of this city. It may take a while, it may even get messy, but this claim to space allows us to question, and answer: Whose city is it anyway?