Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2019


urbanism, Singapore, history, hawker center, shophouse, architecture, sky garden






With a population density of 20, 191.5 people per square mile and 279 square miles of land, Singapore is the world's third densest country. One hundred percent of the population lives in an urban area. Every year, the population increases by an average of 100,000 people, while land shrinks due to rising sea levels. For Singapore, the only option is densification. Singapore's historical identity is often secondary to the pragmatic need for densification.

In a city built in 30 years, the rapid rate of modernization has created a disconnect between our historical background and architecture today. Buildings in Singapore have an incredibly short lifespan and many buildings that are only 30 years old are torn down despite their cultural significance. Jane Jacobs believes in preserving not just the building but also the streets, the community and the self-organization within neighborhoods. In this young country, many of these sites for preservation are still very much in use, retaining the characteristics of the community that will be lost if destroyed. The loss of tangible built history has led to many feeling that Singapore lacks a cultural identity.

This thesis proposes an alternative that examines an intersection between urban densification and organic growth as a solution to the preservation of culture and identity in the future of high-speed urbanization. Using a system of layering, it speculates on a new building typology that overlaps and intermixes the past with the contemporary. A tangible history is important in preserving the culture and fostering an identity. In cities like Singapore, it gives citizens a tangible item to ground their heritage and cultural identity in a rapidly globalizing world. As an alternative to the preservation, layering will be explored to study the multiplicity of identities in facade design, speculating upon these adaptive layers as a new way to preserve cultural identity via addition.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisors:

Maya Alam

Anne Munly


Local Input

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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