Surbana offers a full range of building and infrastructure consultancy services through our multi-disciplinary practices. In this issue, we take an in-depth look into our Urban Planning expertise.
Surbana Urban Planning: Tried and Trusted
For over four decades, Surbana has been an active participant in Singapore's development drive to create a vibrant, sustainable and cosmopolitan city. It has created 26 comprehensively planned townships that now house more than 85% of Singapore's 4.5 million residents. Skilled at designing, implementing, and maintaining complex and demanding urban transformations, Surbana has proven itself to be a visionary integrator with a solid overseas track record.
Surbana International Consultant's master planning and urban design division recently undertook a strategic review of its business and re-branded itself as Surbana Urban Planning Group (SUPG). Endearingly referred to as Ħ°Sup-GĦħ among Surbana colleagues, the unit consolidates expertise in contemporary urban and regional planning, urban design, design development and implementation.
Over the decades, it has developed an integrated approach with an in-house multi-disciplinary team of urban planners, urban designers, architects, transportation planners, traffic engineers, infrastructure engineers, environmental engineers, urban economists and researchers. Key members of the Group have played pivotal roles in the transformation of Singapore's urban skyline, with a few hailing from the key Singapore national planning, housing and industrial development agencies of Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing and Development Board and JTC Corporation.
Urban Planning and its Ever-Changing Landscape
Urban Planning has always been a challenging discipline, involving the constant spatial rearrangement of urban and suburban functions. The problems facing today's urban planners are at a scale where the conventional demarcations of urban, suburban and rural no longer suffice. In the constantly evolving development landscape, issues of urban or regional functions to be addressed in planning are becoming broader, encompassing land use, transportation, housing, open space / recreation, public amenities / facilities, and the conservation of environmental and heritage resources. It is therefore important for urban planners to have an integrated view of the institutional, economical, physical and socio-political factors necessary for effective planning in today's context.
Today, urban planning can be described as a technical and political process concerning the welfare of the people, the control of land use and the design of the urban environment, including transportation and communication networks, preservation and enhancement of the natural environment.
Urban Planning in Singapore
Singapore epitomises a planned city-state living laboratory that is constantly reinventing itself to stay competitive. It is the regional hub for international best practices, in both urban and environmental planning. With only 699 square kilometres of land and a population of 4.5 million to accommodate living, working and recreational needs, its limited space has not restricted its infinite imagination and aspiration. Anticipating a growing economy and population, city administrators, planners, architects and developers in Singapore are constantly being challenged to introduce innovative measures to optimise land use and manage development demands. Yet it is also the same challenge that drove Singapore to keep pushing its envelope and to work creatively within its physical constraints.
SUPG's Multi-Disciplinary Organisational Structure
One of the fundamental building blocks to Singapore's success is the dynamic and harmonious working relationship between the private sector professionals and the senior public sector officials. As the largest urban planning group in Singapore, SUPG reflects a similar organisational structure, consisting of a team of experienced professionals in various disciplines from both the public and private sectors.
SUPG has, over the years, established strong links with various government agencies that are critical to Singapore's urban planning process, enabling it to tap into their expertise. Some of these government agencies include the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Building and Construction Authority, Housing and Development Board, Singapore Land Authority, which ensures the best use of state land, and the National Parks Board, which manages Singapore's parks and greeneries.
SUPG regularly partners the private sector in its engagements. Involved in all stages of planning, design and development management, they include strategic planners, environmental and conservation experts, tourism specialists, landscape planners, branding and marketing consultants, real estate consultants and lawyers. Common to all are their professional standards and a comprehensive knowledge of how the Singapore model functions in their respective fields of expertise. It is the amalgamation of expertise from both the public and private sectors that gives SUPG a strong foothold in the urban planning arena.
SUPG Exporting Urban Planning Expertise
Previously the corporatised entity of Singapore Housing Development Board (HDB), Surbana Urban Planning Group has accumulated a wealth of experience in urban planning. Exporting its services to the global market thus became a natural progression for SUPG to broaden its portfolio and experience. Nevertheless, attuned to specific conditions and requirements of its own country, planning in an international context is not without its challenge.
The success in local land use planning is largely attributed to the Singapore government's clear policies and an acute understanding of the country's needs. Even in implementing an approach that models after Singapore's framework, moving beyond the local context means planning works that involve extensive research, comprehensive understanding of the location specifics and aligning developments with the government's vision. This as opposed to simply following Singapore's development tracks and across-the-board application is clearly manifested in SUPG's planning processes.
Since its entry into the international market, SUPG's portfolio has expanded steadily to include South East Asia, India, China, Middle East and lately Africa and Europe. It has also participated and worked with various government agencies in many first mover projects, including the recent Eco-City in Tianjin.