Claiming Ordinary Space in the “Cosmopolitan Grid”

The case of Singapore

Authored by: Felicity H.H Chan

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780203731932-12

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Abstract

The popular discourse on global immigration is often framed as a unidirectional flow of people moving from the countries of the Global South to the richer Western countries of the Global North. Ethnic and cultural enclaves in Western cities, such as Chinatown, Cambodia Town, Little Saigon and Koreatown, illustrate this migratory direction. The migratory pattern in multiracial and postcolonial Singapore defies this simplification. Since 2000, Singapore has experienced a rapid rise of new immigration from both Western and non-Western origins because of pro-immigration policy to support economic growth. The influx of highly skilled foreign talent and global investors as well as foreign workers for labor-intensive industries have transformed the social and built environment of Singapore significantly, stoking social tensions and destabilizing accepted notions of culture and space. This chapter presents how social space in Singapore has been reconfigured into a “cosmopolitan grid” by deliberate planning and design interventions. It discusses the different claims to everyday urban space that have emerged, particularly by migrants from the United States, France, and Germany, who have experienced the least scrutiny in the discourse about social integration.

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