Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rochor area's diversity attracts researchers

The Straits Times - September 14, 2012
By: Feng Zengkun

Data will be used for planning, and comparing urban trends in region

RESEARCHERS have started to map part of the Rochor area to analyse its urban use and identify changes in the neighbourhood.

They began the survey in June, going door to door to study the buildings and interview people who live and work in the area.

Conducted by the Future Cities Laboratory - a research centre jointly established by Singapore's National Research Foundation and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology - the study will allow the researchers to compare urban trends and design in Singapore with other cities in the region, like Shanghai, Shenzhen and Bangkok.

The researchers said they chose to study Rochor because of its physical and social diversity. The area includes the historic Kampong Glam and Little India.

Said Ms Zhou Ying, a researcher at the lab: "Even within the individual areas there are different pockets, for example of shophouses, housing flats and empty plots of land."

Ms Zhou said the team's work - which includes studying the area's history - could provide the Urban Redevelopment Authority with more detailed information on land use and trends in the neighbourhood.

The data will also be used tocome up with potentialplansfor the area and understand theeffect of the plannedredevelopment, which includes newhigh-rise buildings and the North-South Expressway, the researchers said.

The Government announced last year that it will acquire the Rochor Centre in Rochor Road to make way for the expressway, which will be completed by 2020.

New apartments, hotels, offices and shops will also be developed along Ophir Road and Rochor Road.

The team's report is expected to be finished within three years, and the researchers will lead a walkabout in Rochor as part of next month's Archifest, a month-long festival to celebrate Singapore's urban environment.

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