In the last three decades, Singapore has increased in total land area by over a hundred square kilometres through reclamation. Yet, this 719.1 km2-large city-state remains one of the smallest sovereignties in the world. The 5.5 million who call this country home, however, know Singapore as a densely packed place to live in today.

Close to 8,000 residents are packed into every square kilometre of this city, one that is just 40 per cent the size of London and half of Los Angeles. They also know how expensive life in the city is becoming because of this. While Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product per capita ranks just behind Qatar and Luxembourg, government measures to control the vehicle population in a city limited in land means that a Toyota Corolla here costs roughly the same as a Mercedes-Benz CLS in the United States. Despite this, the government put out a Population White Paper in 2013 which projected that Singapore needed a population of 6.9 million by 2030 to sustain a dynamic city. Some studies have gone on to put that number at 10 million by 2050. Such numbers only make these empty pieces of land around the city more peculiar and precarious. Plot is a documentation of these spaces awaiting the continued development of Singapore.

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Rochor Centre, November 2013
This cluster of colourful buildings that form a commercial and public housing estate will be demolished after almost four decades to make way for the new 21km long North-South Expressway. Its residents are being relocated to new residences developed nearby. More than 80 per cent of Singapore’s population live in public housing of this sort, residences which are sold on 99-year leases.

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Little India, March 2012
This area originally set aside by the British for Indian migrants to Singapore has continued till today to be the meeting point for migrant workers, particularly on their rest days. Besides visiting the nearby Mustafa departmental store, they gather on the neighbourhood’s empty plots of land even as these are quickly being filled up with new commercial and residential developments.

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Former Kallang Airport, October 2014
These gates mark the entrance to the former Kallang Airport, the city’s first purpose-built civil airport. Built by the British colonial government, it operated from 1937 to 1955 and was gazetted for conservation in 2008.

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Rail Corridor, July 2012
After nearly 80 years of service, the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway moved its operations out of Singapore completely, returning a 24km stretch of land back to Singapore. Plans have been made to transform the lands of this former railroad into a string of community spaces that have become known as the Rail Corridor, a green belt that will be 10 times as long as New York City’s renowned High Line.

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Bayfront, July 2012
Kite enthusiasts come to this plot adjacent to the towering Marina Bay Sands to fly their remote controlled kites at night. Decorated with coloured LEDs, these kites add a colourful touch to the city skyline, which has been carefully designed according to a night lighting masterplan drawn up by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.


The Artist
Caleb Ming’s work examines aspects of modern living and its ironies. Working predominantly in photography and film, he explores issues related to people and the environment, telling stories through the landscapes he photographs. This series is part of a long-term project that documents the impact of space with the development of Singapore, its economy and population growth. The exhibition ‘Plot’ will be on show at the Esplanade Tunnel, Esplanade Theatres by the Bay, from July 15 to September 25.

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Written by NOW!Singapore

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