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Singapore Pioneers Digital Shift in Urban ‘Loveability’

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The culmination of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia marked not only the close of a prestigious event but also the unveiling of crucial data reshaping perceptions of urban ‘loveability’.

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At the heart of this revelation was the Values Measurement Machine, an innovative analogue installation commissioned by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and DesignSingapore Council (Dsg), and organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA).

Over the past six months, this remarkable installation collected data from more than 97,000 global visitors, offering unique insights into the desires and preferences that individuals have for their urban environments.

At the core of the interactive installation were six key questions focusing on qualities deemed essential for creating a more loveable urban landscape. The aspects explored included agency, attachment, attraction, connection, freedom, and inclusion.

Navigating through a blend of artistic renders and AI images, visitors engaged with the installation, pinpointing qualities that resonated with their ideal habitat. The subsequent data presented a dynamic display of collective desires, shedding light on what architects, developers, and city planners should consider in shaping future urban landscapes.

The digital aspect of the installation was particularly noteworthy, with visitors interacting through their smartphones to express their preferences. Surprisingly, the data revealed that people were twice as likely to change their opinions or form new perspectives when engaging with the installation alone on their phones compared to group settings or community activities.

This finding underscores the powerful impact of digital interaction on shaping individual preferences and perspectives in the context of urban planning. Some key revelations emerged from the data, challenging conventional wisdom. Two-thirds of visitors expressed a preference for homes seamlessly connected to nature and vegetation, blurring the boundaries between public, communal, and private spaces.

Further, the data highlighted a strong inclination toward maintaining heritage places in their original state, and if redevelopment were to occur, a clear preference emerged for distinguishing between the old and the new.

The co-curators of the Singapore Pavilion, Ar Adrian Lai, Ar Melvin Tan, and Ar Wong Ker How underscored the potential implications of the data. They hope that the findings could inspire collaborative planning processes and serve as alternative metrics for success in post-occupancy building evaluations.

The digital engagement aspect, especially the surprising influence of smartphone interactions, prompted discussions on the role of technology in shaping urban preferences and perceptions. The team envisions a future where similar measuring installations become testbeds for insightful virtual dialogues, involving students, residents, and other stakeholders.

Co-curators presented their findings at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore, emphasising the transformative potential of architecture and design in addressing societal needs. Ar Adrian Lai highlighted the vision of open homes and seamlessly overlapping public and private spaces inspired by rural aspirations, urging a collective effort to redefine and enhance ‘loveability’ within cities.

The digital shift in urban ‘loveability’ has a profound impact on Singapore’s digital economy, shaping the cityscape to align with the preferences of its digitally connected population. By incorporating real-time data and insights into urban planning, Singapore ensures that its developments not only meet the functional needs of residents but also resonate with their aspirations.

A loveable and digitally optimised urban landscape attracts talent, businesses, and tourists, reinforcing Singapore’s image as a global economic hub. The emphasis on technological integration, community engagement, and human-centric design positions Singapore at the forefront of the digital economy, creating a harmonious synergy between technological advancements and the well-being of its residents.


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