Photodiary: Living high in Singapore

Aiste Stancikaite is a pho­to­grapher trav­el­ling in Asia at the moment. For Art Pit, she fea­tures the most inter­est­ing moments of her jour­ney and writes some feed­back about her impres­sions of Asia. In this post, she dis­cusses sky­scrapers’ archi­tec­ture in Singapore.

When I got held up at the cus­toms of Singapore and missed my bus, I was ‘saved’ by a Singaporean guy who helped me to get to the city. On the way, when I was soak­ing in Singapore through the bus win­dow, my new friend saw my wide open eyes jump­ing from one sky­scraper to another and asked if the coun­try, which I was from, is flat. First, I thought he was talk­ing about hills and moun­tains, but then I real­ized he was actu­ally ask­ing about the height of the build­ings — that’s what forms Singapore’s landscape.

The thought that thou­sands of people live in monster-​like sky­scrapers and every apart­ment in the build­ing is the same, is not, of course, very appeal­ing at first, how­ever, the life is quite com­fort­able there. Every block has its own car park, small court­yard and chil­dren play­ground which is actu­ally covered in soft rub­ber so kids would not get hurt. And it’s all pre­cisely clean, from the 40th floor stair­case to the court­yard, but that’s how all Singapore is like.

Housing mar­ket in Singapore is con­trolled by two parties. Council owns a big share of con­domin­i­ums (that’s how they call apart­ments) in the city and they are usu­ally much cheaper to rent. However, for­eign­ers, single or gay people might find it dif­fi­cult to get one of those flats as coun­cil usu­ally favours mar­ried couples and small fam­il­ies. The coun­cil also con­trols the racial per­cent­age in one build­ing but, as ridicu­lous as it may sound, it actu­ally pre­vents the form­a­tion of ghet­tos. Private hous­ing is a second option. It’s more expens­ive but apart­ments are usu­ally in a bet­ter con­di­tion and much easier to get, that’s why they are pop­u­lar amongst expats or rich Singaporeans.

Singapore is a tiny coun­try hav­ing five mil­lions of people and, because of the lim­ited space, there is only one way to fit every­one in and it is build­ing up instead of out. Massive blocks of flats or office build­ings cre­ate a very spe­cific and a bit sur­real atmo­sphere and add a lot of char­ac­ter to the city. It’s not a uni­ver­sal kind of beauty (like old towns of Europe) but it’s inter­est­ing. Sometimes you need to lift your head very high to see the sky but if you are on the 40th floor (or higher) you can see it all. After all, Singapore is not just con­crete or glass build­ings, it also has a lot of parks and incred­ibly lots of trees on the streets, so some­times it feels as you’re walk­ing in a trop­ical jungle with sky­scrapers care­fully com­bined on it. The har­mony between nature and the city is pre­served thanks to Singaporean people who live peace­fully with each other and take care of their environment.

Aistė Stancikaitė
About author:
Aistė Stancikaitė
Aiste Stancikaite works with images and text to tell stories about places and people. She is interested in reality and how it transforms into multiple narratives when it's pictured. Aiste has finished B.A. degree in Fine Arts (Painting) and since then is travelling, making photo essays, writing articles and doing other creative projects. At the mom... Read further >
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