Time to Expand Land Options: Downwards, Upwards and Seawards

There is a huge scarcity of land at Singapore, and in these conditions, if one needs to make the best out of real estate projects; there are three major options for expansion. Either expand upwards, downwards, or go towards the seaside.

These ideas were recently updated by Lawrence Wong, the National Development Minister in a blog post.

There is no doubt to say that land is one of the essential factors for the overall development of a country; especially for tiny nations like Singapore. However, it is possible to find some innovative ways to make the best out of available land options. Some creative strategies may help us to overcome natural constraints while ensuring long term success in the area.

In case of upward expansion; it is all about high rise living. Mr. Wong described few applications such as the installation of vertical farms and solar panels on the rooftops of the Housing Board blocks.

The minister took the example of recently developed Tengah town, where centralized cooling system chillers are installed on the rooftops to ensure higher energy efficiency.

For the vertical strategy, it is all about optimization of the existing land spaces; especially in the areas where there are few chances to maximize the full growth potential. The best example of this is the Paya Lebar Air Base. It is said that the airbase relocation may provide more area for the new and higher-level developments in the area.

The second recommendation for proper utilization of land in the area was moving downwards or simply getting underground. It is already implemented in many areas; with the underground telecom lines, power grids, and the district cooling system at Marina Bay. However, much more can be still done in this direction to maximize land use.

The first most underground 230 kV substation will be soon developed at Pasir Panjang. The plan also reveals that few more district cooling systems will be placed in the new areas such as Punggol.

Mr. Wong also revealed that Singapore is also getting deeper, around 150m below the ground level; note that, it already has rock caverns at Jurong area that are used for oil storage. He also added that the teams are also looking for other suitable locations where future caverns can be created.

He also added that the Government is working on the comprehensive three-dimensional space plan that will be executed underground. Few areas that are already included in this plan are Punggol Digital District, Jurong Innovation District, and Marina Bay.

The last strategy that Minister highlighted in his blog post was expansion towards the sea. For instance, Singapore has reclaimed some land in the Tuas area where they will be developing a new terminal. Professionals are planning to move the existing ports to the south part over there. This strategy will free up almost 1000ha of total waterfront space so that the downtown area in the Marina Bay can be extended further. Other than this, Mr. Wong also highlighted a few new methods to reduce the estimated sand usages by 40%; it is possible by using dikes and polders in the Pulau Tekong area.

He added that, although these are long term investments, the teams are planning to implement them more appropriately and in a timely manner.