Tucked in a corner of Maxwell Road is the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)’s Singapore City Gallery, which showcases Singapore’s physical transformation over the past 50 years.

The three-storey gallery features 10 thematic areas, with more than 50 audiovisual and interactive exhibits.

In a short visit to the gallery, I was amazed by what the gallery had to offer. Unlike the fantastical imaginings of art exhibits, these are real plans that will be brought to life.

One of they key exhibits on the second floor is a miniature model of the city center – so detailed that it seemed like the buildings and landmarks we are all familiar with had shrunk.

It is also through this exhibit that I learn how the urban skyline is set to change in the next few years.

The spread of greenery close to Gardens by the Bay and the Straits of Singapore will disappear in the future, as the URA has plans to turn it into an urban village.

Expansion Of The CBD Area

As the urban landscape in the Central Business District (CBD) area expands, more people can live near their workplaces – saving them from the rush hour frenzy every weekday.

The Marina South area will not only have private residential areas but also cafes and grocery stores among other services.

In fact, this is one of the highlights – that the space is intended for mixed usage, which means that both “commercial and community uses are at the doorstep”.

You can head down for a haircut, or to visit the doctor; arrange to meet your friend at the convenience stores around the corner.

Perhaps in an effort to make Singapore more bike friendly, there are plans for cycling paths so that riders can travel safely around the district, and sheltered connections to any destination within the village.

Given the advancement of such cycling paths in other countries, its convenience and also given the strain in Singapore on the roads and public transport, it is about time these plans are implemented.

However, the main feature of this area – branded as one of the “hallmarks of city living” – is being a part of the community, which URA hopes to develop naturally through numerous public places for its residents to socialise.

The urban village is actually a part of URA’s latest Master Plan, a statutory land use plan “which guides Singapore’s development in the medium term over the next 10 to 15 years”. It shows the permissible land use and density for developments in Singapore.

The Master Plan is reviewed every five years and is part of the larger Concept Plan, a land use and transportation guide plan which spans over 40 to 50 years.

Memorising The Skyline

Apart from the Central Area Model, what caught my eye in the gallery is a drawing of Singapore’s skyline by Stephen Wiltshire.

Wiltshire is a British artist and autistic savant, who is known globally for drawing detailed cityscapes from memory – after viewing them only once. He has sketched the skylines of major cities such as London, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Wiltshire drew the Singapore cityscape from memory in July 2014, after a short helicopter ride to view Singapore’s skyline. He then spent five days drawing the city on a canvas at the main atrium of Paragon shopping centre.

This artwork was presented to former President Tony Tan as a gift to Singapore for its 50th birthday.

The Singapore City Gallery offers much to explore – with captivating images from the past, it serves as a reminder of how far we have progressed. There are also tidbits of information that helps you gain a deeper understanding of Singapore’s land use planning.

To find out more about the Singapore City Gallery, click here.

45 Maxwell Rd, The URA Centre, 069118
Mon – Sat: 9AM–5PM
Closed on Sundays
Phone: 6221 6666
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