Singapore’s central business district (CBD), with towering skyscrapers and their prestigious occupiers, has seen a tremendous transformation in the past decades. The financial district has extended from a 32.4-hectare plot of prime land dubbed “Golden Shoe”, including Shenton Way, Raffles Place, Battery Road and Raffles Quay, to the new downtown Marine Bay. If that transformation was CBD 2.0, then surely, the future development of Greater Southern Waterfront heralds CBD 3.0.
The 1,000-hectare Greater Southern Waterfront presents plenty of redevelopment opportunities
and new ideas. They can be summarised in the word: “IMAGINE
Innovative, smart technologies
Singapore, with its Smart Nation initiatives, digital infrastructure and tech-savvy population, is well-positioned to tap technology to improve lives of its citizens. The future Greater Southern Waterfront precinct will likely be highly tech-enabled, including Internet of Things sensors, automation and robotics, as well as big data and data analytics. The built environment will be more responsive to the users’ needs.
There are plenty of innovative ideas to make cities smarter. For example, intelligent buildings
equipped with a myriad of sensors will be able to detect ambient temperature, wind and humidity levels, and automatically adjusts the lighting and temperature within to ensure optimal comfort for occupiers. With autonomous intelligence, there may be driver-less cars that can re-route themselves to less congested streets, or “drive” themselves home after dropping off the passengers, reducing the need for car parking in the city.
Master planning and place-making
The sprawling Greater Southern Waterfront could be a prime candidate for development under the ‘master developer’ model, with greater flexibility in land use. The master developer will be able to strategise development activities, building up the area in phases by considering changing market conditions.
It will probably see a larger number of white sites, a land zoning that gives developers more flexibility in assessing the development options for specific land parcels. Developers have a free hand in deciding the mix of uses – including hotel, office, residential, retail, entertainment and serviced apartments – and the quantum of floor space allocated for each use on the site, within the total permissible gross floor area for the entire development. They can be more responsive to market dynamics by adjusting the allocation among different uses without being subject to hefty differential premium.
With direct connectivity to Labrador Park and Marina Bay, the Greater Southern Waterfront is set to be a vibrant multi-use public gathering place. Creative place-making initiatives, including weekend markets, festivals, firework displays, concerts and F&B options such as food trucks, will draw people to the water’s edge.
Advantageous to neighbouring areas
Neighbouring areas such as Shenton Way stand to benefit from the development of Greater Southern Waterfront from a container port area to a bustling new town. Buildings that now sit at the fringes of Shenton Way and Tanjong Pagar Road – including 76 and 78 Shenton, Southpoint, Jit Poh Building, ABI Plaza and other smaller developments – will find themselves literally at the doorstep of Singapore’s new premier waterfront destination.
As a new focal point of commercial, residential and community activities, Greater Southern Waterfront will draw crowd at a scale that has never been seen in the what is presently the sleepier side of town. There will be an influx of residents, working professionals, youths, tourists and shoppers who will demand more lifestyle, entertaining and dining options.
The plans for Greater Southern Waterfront, along with the opening of Prince Edward MRT station on the Circle Line in 2025, present a unique chance for owners of nearby buildings to re-evaluate the development potential of their properties. Some owners could seize the opportunity to divest the property, selling into a market that is on the cusp of recovery amid brighter economic prospects.
Meanwhile, asset enhancement will help some of these older buildings to become more competitive and relevant to occupiers’ ever-changing needs. It opens up the potential for rental growth and will likely have a positive impact on capital values.
As an open economy, Singapore will remain attractive to the best and the brightest talent.
The future Greater Southern Waterfront, with its smart features, iconic developments and vibrant city life, is expected to further propel the country’s reputation as a world-class city. The new precinct – likely to be creative, lively and well-connected via an efficient public transport network - will be a magnet for both local and global talent, as more businesses set up their regional headquarters in Singapore to tap growth in Asia. Tech start-ups and new industries may also locate themselves in Greater Southern Waterfront to tap talent pool and leverage smart technologies in future buildings.
Integrated developments Mixed-use developments help to promote the live, work, play concept and their different uses – be it any combination of hotel, office, residential or retail – can work in synergy. Greater Southern Waterfront will likely see its fair share of integrated developments.
Retail and office space needs will continue to change, given the rise in e-commerce and more flexible workplace and co-working strategies. It will present both opportunities and challenges to developers as they strive to create projects that are “future-ready”. Integrated developments of the future will boast more adaptable spaces, lifestyle options as well as community areas. Perhaps there may even be greater integration of other services such as educational learning hubs, retirement living or medical services.
Nature and sustainability The new waterfront city will be nestled in greenery, helping to promote biodiversity with its connected network of green and open spaces. Nature, coupled with green transport and buildings, will make Greater Southern Waterfront a sustainable and liveable district – in line with the nation’s push towards sustainability.
Looking ahead, the rapid advances in technology - including nanotechnology, info-communication technology, robotics, 3D printing and development of new materials – will further drive sustainability. Consultancy Arup, in its Future of Highway report, cited several case studies that could shape how roads are designed and built. They included: energy tiles installed in pavement to harness and convert energy from the footfall of pedestrians, replacing asphalt roads with advanced solar panels to generate renewable energy, and self-healing concrete that uses bacteria to seal cracks.
There are many approaches to better engage communities and build social resilience. One area is in improving ‘walkability’ – a more walkable neighbourhood with attractive public spaces not only raises the likelihood for social interaction and boosts the sense of community, but also promotes an active lifestyle and enhances mental well-being.
Understandably, the tropical heat and humidity in Singapore makes walking – particularly at ground level - unappealing to many people. Some options to improve thermal comfort include having more trees and a wider use of street-level cooling for pedestrian walkways – such as mist fans installed at shaded sidewalks to create airflow and lower ambient temperature.
Having vibrant streets that provide diverse experiences via alfresco dining, interactive public spaces, public art and busking activity, street fairs and night events on closed-streets can all enliven journeys and encourage walking.