by LEE Hui Lian | Supervisor: Tsuto SAKAMOTO
My thesis is a critique on the development of Singapore’s urban development as an anaesthetised landscape. It questions the selective erasure of history and the meaning of land through looking at archivisation from various perspectives.
Singapore, a city and a country, in its aim to be both marketable and idealised, projects a future that constantly displaces the past before the ripening of the present. This often results in a dramatisation and orchestration of the urban landscape – transplanted trees (and now Super Trees), crafted vistas of high‐rise living next to beaches and parks by the sea (especially along the East Coast Parkway expressway from the airport to the city centre) and carefully outlined skyline at the central business district. The ‘real’ is hence compromised; it has become an anaesthetised landscape where selective history, and memory, is kept.
Thus, the archive of Singapore has to be resuscitated, not merely in the form of an entity that documents and expands the autonomy of archivisation, but also a physical body that archives the transformations in the Singapore landscape. It records the changes of the past (& the attempt to bury and negate this change), provides autonomy for the public to engage in the act of archiving, and lastly, allows archivisation to take place in the inprogress development of the landscape (land reclamation). In essence, the project is manifested in three categories: archive as architecture, archive as document, and archive as mnemonic.
The site, Marina East, was chosen as it was the first major reclamation project in Singapore that altered the land and coastal profile in a series of phases. Katong Fort that marked the original coastline of Marina East, was as a result, buried, discovered and reburied in what became Katong Park that we see today. The artificial reclaimed land has since been seamlessly stitched into the original landscape, the past conveniently forgotten.