Cool Topology – Singapore’s Railway Corridor and New Strategies for Heat Islands

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Joshua Comaroff, Phillip RW Urech

The Railway Corridor, left empty since the termination of the KTM service in 2011, remains as a unique infrastructural topography. When re-opened to the public, it will be one of the longest continuous pedestrian lines connecting the urban conglomerate of Singapore. Although a master-planning commission was awarded by competition in 2015, the Urban Redevelopment Authority has since rescinded the contract, and the future of this greenspace is unclear.

This urban landscape design studio will explore the use of new technologies in the exploration of possible futures for the Railway Corridor. The goal is to improve climatic conditions in neighbourhoods adjacent to the Corridor, by studying the interface of a linear park with existing urban fabric. With workshops throughout the semester, students will acquire skills in point cloud and 3D modelling, visualisation techniques, sand modelling and CNC prototyping. The studio will be conducted in collaboration with the Design Research Studio of Christophe Girot at ETH, as well as the ETH Future Cities Laboratory. Students will be asked to work first in teams on the analysis and surveying of various sites in Singapore, and later to work individually on a palette of design strategies through an evolving landscape design that incorporates topography, vegetation and program. The resulting projects will be combined into a large-scale landscape plan. Emphasis will be placed on landscape topology which aims to improve thermal comfort at the neighbourhood scale—while opening up a range of possibilities for future uses and developments on the city island.