I know my tremendous affection for Singapore isn’t shared by everyone.
Yes, I know Singapore is imperfect, and the more I know it sadly the more I am aware of these imperfections, but if there is just one thing about Singapore that leaves me almost giddy with affection it is the quality of some of the architecture.
Simply pointing out my favourite building, the Batman Building pictured above, doesn’t do Singapore’s architecture justice, so I will attempt an explanation from two perspectives.
Firstly, while I admit I am no great fan of letting the private sector do as they please, the benefits of having money and being willing to spend it on creative architecture is, to me, awe-inspiring. Coming from a land whose architecture seems determined to prove that the construction was as cheap and as unimaginative as possible, Singapore is a revelation. Much of the time I spend looking at the buildings of Singapore I am thinking “How can I capture and share the will to do that?”
Secondly, the creativity involved in preserving existing buildings makes my heart hurt. Not, I emphasise, because there was anything wrong with the brilliance of bringing two historic buildings together to create the Singapore National Gallery for example. My sadness comes from knowing that such an opportunity would almost never occur in somewhere like Sydney when there is the chance of giving the demolition and rebuilding contract to cronies resulting in the cheapest possible replacement with an enormous profit at huge public expense.
The same arrangements that push the boundaries of corruption probably happen in Singapore too, but at least Singaporeans have the decency to hide it behind what are often the most wonderful buildings, and for that I am eternally grateful.