Singapore is building a 42,000-home eco ‘smart’ city

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In a country where over 80% of residents live in public housing, a government commitment to sustainable urban design could have huge implications. And when it’s a tropical country where convenience and air conditioning are a way of life, the impact could be greater still.

Promising 42,000 new homes across five residential districts, the eco-town of Tengah — the Malay word for "middle," though it’s in the island’s western region — will be the 24th new settlement built by Singapore’s government since World War II. It is, however, the first with centralized cooling, automated trash collection and a car-free town center, which conservationists hope offers a roadmap for slashing carbon emissions in the Southeast Asian city-state.

The development is being dubbed a "forest town" by officials, due to its abundant greenery and public gardens. Once home to brickmaking factories, and later used for military training, the 700-hectare (2.7-square-mile) site has been reclaimed by an extensive secondary forest in recent years. A 328-foot-wide ecological "corridor" will be maintained through its center, providing safe passage to wildlife and connecting a water catchment area on one side to a nature reserve on the other.


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