Liu Thai Ker could have followed in his father's footsteps and chosen the profession of painter. He preferred to work on huge canvases: cities. This architect is one of the great thinkers behind the city of Singapore that has become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Since then, his expertise has been used in other urban environments. In this video given at TED (in English, with English or Spanish subtitles), he explains his vision of urban planning.
Already, as he reminds us, when the British left Singapore in 1960, the metropolitan area was far from what it is today. A huge part of the population lives in very poor housing, almost slums. So the Singapore government has been working to ensure that everyone has a decent home. For Mr. Ker, the city must be designed as a viable living environment where each stratum has its purpose. The city center serves very niche requirements. After that, each "floor" serves commercial, industrial, educational, etc. needs. The idea is to avoid needlessly clogging up neighborhoods with traffic.
And he laments that cities do not think about their planning under the pretext that the world is changing too fast. Yet long-term architectural thinking thinks about possibilities over decades and ensures that its facilities will last. After all, his plan for Singapore extends from 1991 to 2091! For him, the three keys to urbanism lie in humanism, resilience and ecological sustainability. These are, as he reminds us, living environments that must endure the test of time.
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