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The New Back Lane - Revitalising the Old Downtown Core

Part 2 Project 2006
Ong Yeun
National University of Singapore, Singapore
For nearly thirty years, the single-use commercial-only Shenton Way - Robinson Road downtown has been plagued with inactivity after office hours, even as it faces a recent rise in residential statistic. This thesis investigates the reinvention of the old city core by inserting a "street" architecture within the urban fabric, responding to the increased needs and users, thus recharging the interstitial spaces in a saturation of glossed towers and historical landmarks without affecting the existing frontages or "overhauling" the urbanscape.

By activating the airspace above this latent service back-lane, a network of programmes is weaved into the core, revitalising the old ground with new energy and urban experience.

Ong Yeun

This design thesis poignantly encapsulates the desire for a vibrant enclave that is continuous with its past urban fabric and histories. Eschewing the modernist paradigm of functional zoning and that characterizes post-war downtowns, this design explores a sustainable way to enliven its 24-7 operation, to fulfill the demands of new demographic patterns and lifestyle quests. These needs are poetically choreographed into the interstitial spaces of urban back-lanes, creating a new network of work-and-play and an energized urban linkage. The totality of the assemblage extends the life-use of extant buildings without the trappings of formulaic thematizations or their superficial iconic treatments.

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