Saturday, January 13, 2007

Evolving Aspirations

Since we're on the topic of aspirations, local vs global, I'd like to share the contents of a conversation I had with a friend who used to be from a certain committee in a certain planning authority in Singapore.

We were talking about Marina Bay, and how countless fingers have pointed at it accusingly that it is catering only to the elites, and have no room for the locals. And he said yes, that is exactly what Marina Bay was meant to be, a playground for the elites. If you want a piece of the local pie, go to Chinatown, go to Little India, go to Geylang. Our nation needs a place like Marina Bay to complete the picture the authorities are painting for the world.

That comment confirmed the validity of my questions I had in mind. But it hasn't answered them. My question was, is this what we should be portraying to the world? Is there room for the average Singaporean in Marina Bay, the New Downtown which, for many – resident, visitor, or one who’s never been here – inevitably becomes the metonym for Singapore? I guess there's no right or wrong answer, and the answer to this question depends on your values in life.

Let me paint a scenario: I am married with 4 kids, and my family has been supporting me for the past 10 years during down times. Things have picked up recently, thanks to them, and now I have the opportunity to cast away this shadow of my past and get a job that is high paying and shoots me into superstardom. The only problem is that not all my kids are smart, and my wife is not as pretty as the secretary they picked for me. What should I do? Is there room for my family in this bright prospect of a future?

Up until this point, you may be wondering. Am I in the correct blog? Where's the architecture? That, incidentally, was also the same question my friend asked. Do Architects really need to dwell into the realm of politics? Can't Architects simply focus on creating nice spaces to enrich people's lives?

Well friends, that's the question I pose to you too.