SPEECH: Opening address for the Official Opening of 1000 Singapores: Eight Points of the Compact City Exhibition

Dec 17, 2015


Speech by Minister of State for Communications and Information, Mr Chee Hong Tat at the Official Opening of 1000 Singapores: Eight Points of the Compact City Exhibition, 17 December 2015, National Design Centre

Distinguished Guests
Ladies and gentlemen


  1. Good evening. Thank you for joining us at the homecoming of the 1000 Singapores: Eight Points of the Compact City exhibition, which first opened in Paris in June this year.

  2. Paris recently suffered a terrorist attack which took the lives of many innocent victims. As we join our friends from France and other countries in condemning the attack and praying for the victims and their families, one thing is clear: the terrorists did not succeed and will not succeed in undermining the spirit of Parisians and their vision of making Paris a successful city.

  3. It is in this same spirit of finding success by overcoming adversity that we hold the 1000 Singapores exhibition to celebrate our achievements in urban planning design, and to commemorate 50 years of bilateral relations between France and Singapore.

Celebrating Singapore Design 

  1. Looking back over the last 50 years, we have seen how far Singapore has developed as a country. During that time, our design sector has also grown significantly. Last Friday, Singapore was designated a UNESCO Creative City of Design, in recognition of our commitment to use design for social and economic development. 

  2. Some say that individuals are most creative when we work under constraints. Indeed Singapore’s development is an illustration of how a people’s hard work and innovation can turn limitations and vulnerabilities into strengths. One example is our high-rise housing strategy to give every Singaporean the opportunity to own a home. Faced with a growing population and limited land, we challenged ourselves to create comfortable and beautiful homes for families, in a living environment that integrates nature and community needs. Our challenge went beyond architecture and land use. It was also about changing our people’s mindsets. How do we convince a population that was used to living close to the ground in villages to embrace high-rise living? 

  3. This is where design played a key role. Early HDB New Towns incorporated design elements of old neighbourhoods so that residents would feel a sense of familiarity. For example, old Chinatown shop-houses served as the design inspiration for Toa Payoh’s town centre when it was built in 1960s. In more recent times, Pinnacle@Duxton took innovation to new heights with its community spaces on sky bridges which linked the different blocks and provided high-rise greenery for residents to enjoy. We have also seen how Punggol’s new housing projects promote sustainable living by integrating eco-friendly features like renewable energy, rainwater recycling and energy efficient ‘smart lifts’.

1000 Singapores exhibition

  1. ‘Density’ is only one of the many aspects that make up a compact city. The 1000 Singapores exhibition examines others, such as a city’s infrastructure, its natural landscape and how it is governed.

  2. This exhibition makes us think about the factors that affect a city’s liveability and what new challenges we may face in the future. It raises important questions about we can live more sustainably, be more energy efficient, and how our future generations will live, work and play.

  3. Take for example the planning of HDB’s upcoming project at Kampung Admiralty. This is a development that will combine housing and retail, as well as eldercare and medical services to support ageing in place for our seniors. The DesignSingapore Council and the Ministry of Health collaborated with several partners including HDB, LTA and People’s Association in a design thinking exercise to co-create different resident-centric design solutions for the delivery of eldercare and medical services. This is an important area as our population ages, we must work together with government agencies and non-government partners and use design-thinking and technologies to transform our towns and make them elder-friendly.

  4. Design is also important in unlocking value in other sectors. Whether it is designing a more customer-centric retail experience or a faster and smoother production line, design can play a role in improving productivity and helping our companies to compete in the global market.

  5. The government is committed to strengthening Singapore’s design sector and developing our design capabilities. We are working on a new Design Masterplan and as a UNESCO Creative City of Design, we will be able to learn from and collaborate with other Creative Cities. Our aim is to build a strong and dynamic design sector that will contribute to our economic competitiveness and provide good jobs for Singaporeans.


  1. It is fitting that this exhibition is now back in Singapore, as we reach the final segments of our Golden Jubilee celebrations. We are proud of our design and urban planning achievements, and we are happy to celebrate the successes of our creative talents.

  2. I hope all of you will enjoy the exhibition and take time to explore the architectural models, pictures and drawings that capture Singapore’s urban design journey over the last 50 years. 

  3. Thank you.

Written on : 17 Dec 2015

Media Room