• Nicole Reinders

Landscape in the Natural and Cultural Sphere

Punggol Promenade, Urban Landscape Planning

Landscape is usually thought of in the context of framing another structure, to give a precursor of what is about to be seen and to give background when inside the system. However, something is to be said when landscape and the ecology of a certain area becomes the anchor or the focal point, drawing people in to experience the site. Through this interaction, an emphasis is placed on the influence a piece has on the way it engages with the perceived view of the past and the now, present still forming cultural sphere it is forming. The Punggol Promenade by LOOK ARHCITECTS in Singapore is a waterfront installation at the edge of the surrounding urban setting. Its unique location and innovative design allow for a unique experience to procure, as one is reconnected with nature and yet reflective of the past.

Landscape allows for one to escape an urban reality and proceed into a space which is reflective and therapeutic.

It is the boundary and the blending tool that connects the modern human city scapes to that of the wild and untamed life that stems beyond. The Punggol Promenade creates the necessary, “balance between human needs and natural life,” [1] by creating a platform that stretches above the water. Through this, native species are introduced to those who choose to sit along the bank resting on the man-made structures. The invigorated connection to the scenery is due to the, “calculated framing of tenderly stirred juxtapositions”[2] in which one may sit or walk along the boardwalk and be constantly immersed in spectacular views. Since the promenade directly runs up along the water, the experience becomes personal, an engagement of oneself with what is seen, inspiring a deep, “sense of reconciliation with nature”[3] while not leaving the comforts of the already known, the promenade.

The landscape insertion is the boundary between the present and the past from the towering housing structures that flank one end to the calming rushing of the waves on the other. The site holds a war memorial, a tribute to an era not much remembered, yet which, “allows visitors to revel in a poetic interlude, intertwining shifting planes of time and space to yield new layers of meaning”[4]. In this way, the site becomes the, “complex product of typological exchange between regions and local cultural invention,”[5] for the way this historical marker interacts within the current modern world. As one meanders through the promenade, they can find the dark undertones of the color treatment in the boards forming the memorial or the viewing deck looking over Punggol Point beach resembling the hull of oil tankers found in the bay many years ago. In this way, “nature in the cultural imagination”[6] allows for the framing of the wild to be viewed with historical ties in mind and giving way to new, shifting modern cultural stimulations.

Landscape gives way to cultural intuitions by juxtaposing visual frames in which one can see the wild and untamed amongst the modern man-made world.

The Punggol Promenade allows for visitors to delve into the healing forms of viewing nature as they meander throughout the space, continuously exposing themselves to new visuals. Along with this, the promenade features a historical marker designating a World War II memorial. The materials used give resemblance to that of long ago including the boards forming the deck to be that of oil tanker hulls and the dark stain on the memorial to give off a quiet, somber tone. Through this all, the promenade shows the interaction of visitors between the past and the present and these affect the ever-changing cultural sphere.

[1] James Corner, “Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity” in Projective Ecologies, edited by Chris Reed & Nina-Marie Lister (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Graduate School of Design; New York: Actar, 2014): 49

[2] Song Jai, “Punggol Promenade,” in Urban Landscape Planning, edited by Lu Jican. (Artpower International Publishing Co. China) April 2018: 103

[3] Song Jai, “Punggol Promenade,” in Urban Landscape Planning: 99

[4] Song Jai, “Punggol Promenade,” in Urban Landscape Planning: 99

[5] Christophe Girot, “Breaking Ground: A Return to Topology,” in Thinking the Contemporary Landscape, edited by Christophe Girot & Dora Imhof (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2017): 136

[6] James Corner, “Ecology and Landscape as Agents of Creativity” in Projective Ecologies, edited by Chris Reed & Nina-Marie Lister (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Graduate School of Design; New York: Actar, 2014): 43

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