Physical Adjustments in a Changing Landscape
Chapter 2: Landscape Change: From Kampung to Global City by Victor Savage
- a paper tracing the landscape alteration and spatial changes to singapore since 1819
- before 1819 singapore's landscape was relatively untouched by human activity.
- most of the island's undulating topography was covered almost entirely with tropical forests flanked by either sandy beaches or mangrove swamps
- population of about 1,000 to 1,700 malays, orang laut, and chinese on the island was very small, did not affect much landscape alteration
- only significant change came from 20 gambier plantations near the singapore river, which was an extension of the chinese gambier and pepper cultivation from riau
- built up area in colonial singapore actually expanded rather slowly, took over a hundred years (1840-1950) to reach 52 km2.
- after 1950, very rapid expansion of built up area, by 1967 accounted for 144km2 or 26.5% of the total land area of singapore
- both govt and private sector played important roles in defining the nature extent and types of land use
- dissatistified with haphazard growth, raffles established town committe to draw up plan for urban developemnt
- raffles plan mapped by jackson (crawfurd, 1828). areallly defined by newbold (1839). town plan covered an area on either side of the river from rochor river to bukit pasoh and inland up to the mount sophia fort canning area.
- the raffles plan was significant
- it specified the spatial configuration of the town's urban development
- it set up the first network of roads in the town which prevails till today
- it defined the ethnic distribution of population in the town with 3 designed ethnic areas - on the south side of the river was the chinese (chinatown) and indian areas, on the north side was the european community (high street, n bridge and beach road) and malay area (kampung glam)
- although colonial city layout was product of british planning, the actual development and land use was reflection of social, electronic and cultural factors
- mostly european at first, but later also wealthy chinese property developers such as choa chong long, tan tock seng, yeo hood ing, yeo ching hai, tan oo long) and arabs too (syed allie bin al junied, syed omar, syed abdullah, shaik alkaff)
- ironically, occasional fires were partly responsible for urban renewal in the early phase.
- besides fires there was three major building phases - the first was around 1844-1845 and reflected a notice by supreme court to pull down very decayed and unsafe buildings changing singapore to fire resistant brick houses.
- by 1853 crawfurd noted there were 4719 dwelling houses, shops, warehouses, and public buildings constructed mostly of bricks