In particular, the neighborhood that my parents lived and worked in is now a very expensive and trendy part of town. There's little industry left; in fact a lot of local companies are complaining that there's not enough warehouse space left to rent, because it's all being converted into lofts! Sadly my family sold out way before it became cool :(
I've heard it said that it's the styles that have just recently gone out of fashion that are the least fashionable, whereas the styles that have been out of fashion for longer often make a comeback. This applies to clothes, cars, music, and architecture too.
So one thing I've wondered is: if the industrial style could go from being considered ugly to being loved, is it possible that this could happen to another style of architecture/design that we all currently consider to be an eyesore? And what style would be next?
It makes a lot of sense that Brutalism would be it, and maybe these Singaporeans are just ahead of the curve.
Edit: Another thought, this is a trend driven partly by destruction of council house stock, oligarchic money laundering, etc etc which has created extremely high prices in the centre. If that bubble pops and Brexit murders UK economy leading to a long period of price reduction, maybe young middle class people will go back to living in Kensington fancy houses/flats.
That's definitely already a thing. There are ex-council flats worth over a million in certain parts of London.
My Boss a director (of a subsidiary of Elsevier) joked that he couldn't afford one and neither could the MD.
Where I live there's a bit of a controversy now over a chimney. It's not the first chimney to be torn down, not even the first very tall one. Another tall chimney on a similar building in the opposite direction from where I live was torn down with no protests. But this one has come to be a bit of a landmark and people don't like to see it gone, eyesore or not.
I'd love to say that particularly well-planned buildings tend to earn people's affection. But I'm not sure that would be true. I am sure that location and changing technology play roles, though.
What was an cheap land in 1919 may now be centrally located, and the brickwork has a patina quite different from the plain, simple, low-detail surfaces that are often built now. Timber beams and brickwork may have been a cheap way to build, but it isn't now, so the materials have changed in our eyes even as the molecules stayed the same. We're not fond of the cheap things that are used for raised floors and lowered ceilings, and so that warehouse gets a bonus for being Not The Usual Ugly. Etc.
That's because in post industrial neighbourhoods, the first people to move in are artists, which need lots of cheap space.
The artists then make the neighbourhood trendy and attract buyers looking for lofts.
Of course the lofts condos are just an imitation of the style of 'housing' that the artist pioneers live in.
 Those lofts are definitely not glamorous. (poor insulation, drafty windows, improvised bathroom plumbing, plastic core for walls, etc...
> “The fact that people find it ugly means that it already has authenticity,” said Jonathan Poh, an architect who has an office on an upper floor.
First against the wall, IMO.
I grew and studied around brutalist buildings and they are impersonal and humbling in the bad way: like when you visit a gothic church. Particularly because of the visible aesthetic decay of its materials.
I love hating brutalism though.
Particularly when those qualities are poorly executed, i find myself wishing for the honesty of brutalism. The area where I work is now a sea of 5 story condo buildings which try to hide their stick construction, have 4 difference facade materials, and looky flimsy like they are already decaying before they've finished construction.
I am desirous of brutal simplicity.
Gloomy and grey.
> I find it strange that western hipsters are so taken by industrial chic architecture.
It is pretty easy to explain. Unattractive building in low-prestige neighborhoods are cheaper. If you don't care about conventional prestige and comfort you get more bang for the buck. If you want to predict what areas becomes "cool" next, just look at where prices are going down.
Explaining it all due to "fashion" is putting the cart before the horse.
Likewise the Brunswick Centre.
Much more popular with the middle classes than war-era estates like White City.
Also offices for tech companies.
For better or worse, a lot of people in that demographic (how many obviously depends on how you word the question) want parts or all of the eastern European social system of decades past. It should come as no surprise they want the architecture associated with it.
My advice is to avoid going back to the same places too often. There is an endless list of great places to discover; Singapore might be small relative to Earth, but it's still huge relative to one lifetime.
Their metro lines have announcements in 4 languages, and you can even get away without speaking English as a middleman langage. Majority of the people speak at least a little of other languages. It's always a mix of languages (Chinese, Malay/Indonesian, Tamil, Sinhalese, etc).
It still has to mix with the European culture though. There are far more Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, and Australian influence.
HK, as a comparison, has preserved its character and charm, with life on the streets and many unique neighborhoods.
Singapore happens when you think SimCity is realistic: the primacy of the automobile, the belief that one additional Starbucks is always better than one marginal tree, the instinct that any public meeting must be broken up, unless it’s a queueueueueue (a long queue) at an Apple Store, etc.
It’s completely identical to Dubai or any of the Gulf metropolis, only with rain. The #1 Thing to Do in Singapour is taking the bridge to Malaysia, and never coming back. They think they can demolish the brutalism, but it’s already too late: it must be in the water supply. Anything built after ca 1980 is still brutalism, only with glass. When you get to Singapore, you take a $50 rise to the city center, and wonder why you are still in the airport.
Singapore is what happens when you don’t allow creative people the occasional drag of a joint: they take revenge, and make you live in it.
My abiding memory of Singapore is of visiting after about five months without leaving Shanghai and feeling like I was communing with nature. Everything seemed to be either a road, a building, a tree or a park. And there was a lot of park. One day I left my hotel at eight or nine and just walked until I got to the coast. It was amazing and there is no way to do anything similar in the equivalent area of Shanghai. For six months afterwards I would occasionally think of what a hideous wasted opportunity Pudong was in terms of urban planning. Thirty years ago it was farmland and now it’s city but it’s the worst kind of horrible car centric two lanes each way hellhole without adequate parks.
When I got to Singapore in the airport I saw the slogan, “Not a garden city, a city in a garden”. I obviously thought it was total bullshit but it wasn’t, it was amazing. To be honest I’d rather live in Hong Kong because the food and hiking are better but Singapore is still a great, great place to visit.
I don't think that's entirely fair. The way I like to describe it is that Singapore is Asian-Sydney and Hong Kong is Asian-New York. All are world-class cities, but Hong Kong and New York have deep and diverse layers of culture and subculture that are immediately apparent to the most casual of observer. Sydney and Singapore have plenty of depth which is easy for residents to see but for tourists it isn't nearly so obvious.
(Disclaimer: I live in Sydney.)
To the people down-voting it because you disagree, please rescind your vote and supply a rebuttal in words.
My prejudices were not quite reflected in what I actually saw, since I came totally prepared to hate the living bejeezes out of this place.
It's not quite as black and white.
What impressed me most was the garden at the bay. Where they invested a cool billion to build a garden on the most expensive (reclaimed) real estate in the world.
The food is fantastic too.
I understand why my parents loved it. It's instant asia without the hangover you get in places like Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur.
That said, and while I didn't totally hate it a weekend is fine and I don't really need to go back.
The comparison with Dubai seems apt. If you're not into shopping malls it's mostly a rather drab place.
And there's always the slight undercurrent of fascism, which I intensly disliked. I got the strong impression that if you don't go with the flow you're a pariah and a social outcast.
It also doesn't help that they charge roughly S$ 20 (and up) for a bloody beer at any place, which is halfway in the city center. It's a place where happy hour really makes sense.
So, if I want a huge city with unmatched shopping oportunities, which has still a lot to offer in terms of liveability I rather chose Tokyo.
The worst is being downvoted for the dissemination of fact, ideally supported by sources.
Some lesser smart members of this fine forum seem to even downvote comments like this if they dare to go against the party line.
Then again, and as the moderators outline correctly, it's often auto-corrective and I, for one, upvote comments, which are unfairly downvoted. No matter their merits.
Edit : Clarification
HN generally doesn't like 'inflammatory' comments. It's part of both the culture and policies.
But then, I'm a bad judge of cities since I find comfort in the chaos of Delhi.
I did like how walkable Singapore is.
I am not a citizen of Singapore but I am a resident. There are plenty of valid criticisms to be made but I don't recognise the city you are describing. I feel perhaps you never stepped out of River Valley.
I lived there for 2 years. It's a fun place but it can get on your nerves at times. It's hot, crowded, everything (other than local food) is expensive, and the people can be petty and dogmatic. It's growing rapidly which is affecting racial and social cohesion. It's very much a "follow the rules and you'll be ok" place to live.
Are there any recommendations that is not crowded or too hot? The older I grow, the more I uncomfortable I am becoming with crowds
To me it looks like an old beach resort.
Here’s a streetview: https://goo.gl/maps/bmFBmYywHAF2 walk around a bit and you see many such buildings. Only where bombs destroyed the older houses in WW2 will you find anything build after 1920.
The reasons aren’t necessarily a loss in taste: the older buildings have far higher ceilings, which may be due to them often being filled with far more people than is usual today. Alternatively (or because of that) heating costs did not factor into such decisions.
As to skyscrapers and larger buildings such as museums or hospitals, it’s important to remember that glass & steel & concrete is rather new technology. It’s far cheaper than brick, and simply a compromise between costs and appearances that was not commonly available back then. It’s also somewhat inconsistent but undeniable that we appreciate the decorative elements on the exterior, or the stucco inside, yet it feels somewhat tacky to make them today: McMansions are what happens when you think you can plunder all that’s beautiful from previous eras.
I don't know what happened to the buildings which housed the lower half. I know Berlin in 1900 was famous for having lots of awful newly-built tenement buildings, much lower standards than NYC or London at the same period. Maybe these were much less likely to be restored?
But I agree that selection isn't the whole story. Technology is some of it: heating was never cheap, but lighting was even more expensive, which is why old factories have huge windows. I think formality was another part, having a big formal room for guests was important for respectability, whereas today most housing is designed much more around its daily use... so things get subdivided to have more separate bedrooms.
The average architect lives in a building over a hundred years old.
The most desired buildings in the Netherlands are equally over a hundred years old, with people basically preferring faux copies (because buildings that inaccessible to the disabled are now illegal to build) to more modern architecture.
I’m aware there’re a lot of old buildings in most developed countries but there are more new ones. While there may be some bias towards keeping nice old buildings it’s not enough to explain the difference in quality. Old buildings straight up look better, they were designed by better architects.
Some ideas are just bad, not merely out of fashion, and history recognizes them as such.
They will continue designing in a style that wins awards and professional recognition, while the public are stuck with them for decades.
I mean, sure, the designer of the Stata Center  at MIT might have been aiming to impress other architects and win awards. That's why we've heard of it. The designer of Knox Road Multistorey Car Park in Cardiff wasn't aiming for architecture awards - which is why you've never heard of the place.
(I am pretty sure that every architectal project over a certain number of million dollars is guaranteed to win one or more awards)
I don't think it's selection bias. It's the same in software. User hostile faddish resigned are common, backed by some BS narrative. But other than the few times it had destoryed shareholder value (Snapchat) it doesn't really matter because the entire site/app will be redesigned in a couple of years. But a terrible concrete monstrosity can be around for decades and decades.
We used a semi-fancy architect to design our house, and while I'm glad we did we had to push's a lot to design in things like closets, much less other "habitability" features. Many award-winning buildings aren't actually as functional as the awards would imply (just think of the open office trend, which photographs well but is hardly good for productivity!). Ironically that same architect designed...a car park, which is actually quite nice.
(I object to MIT's relatively recent decision to start using names of donors for buildings rather than simply the building number -- building 32 is the stata building).
I can find pictures of the outside of the Cardiff car park, but I can't find anybody showing off the inside. What's so nice about parking in it?
The fundamental bottom line is that hardly anyone likes grey, and - in real life rather than black-and-white photos - no amount of interesting texture makes up for that.
Though I have heard that some of the companies there have trouble retaining staff due to rumours of haunting!
(My dad lived and worked in Singapore for a few years and told me this when I pointed it out on a visit)
On the opposite side of the spectrum to Singapore, as a Hungarian who had the bad luck to be born and grow up in Romania, I hope that one day it will be financially worth it for the country for these buildings to come down and be committed to the graveyard of bad memories. Imagine brutalist architecture built to be exactly the same, shoddily and cheaply, repeating endlessly across the landscape. Buildings where the goal was to stuff as many people in as cheaply as possible, buildings where each of them was built not according to plan but according to what materials were left when every worker and official stole their tiny bit.
For most people in the west, it would be one of the most severe types of punishment imaginable, having to be born, live and die in a depressing, prison-like environment like that.
But still pretty ugly. I can't grok the mindset that asks for these to be protected, other than as a weird form of contrarianism.
Having grown up around the results in the towns and cities of England, it's hard to see these ideals when a grey-brown lump of concrete is blocking out the already weak winter sunlight, unbroken straight lines make the wind howl through and chill you, and dark spaces accumulate litter and urine and seem to just encourage social problems.
So that's why I don't grok the mindset - can people not see what it actually becomes? I get that egalitarianism was there in the intent, but intent is not really relevant. Results are relevant.
I walk through the Barbican frequently, which is rightly a much celebrated building, and find it an extremely elevating experience. I also recently visited Royan Cathedral which is honestly one of the most beautiful I've ever been in. I think many brutalist buildings have been blighted by decades of neglect almost from right after they were built. That's not going to leave the best impression on anybody.
The cathedral looks to me like a gun emplacement, or some relic of a forgotten war.
The cynical side of me suspects that brutalist architecture is a reflection of the psychological damage WWII inflicted on a generation of architects. They experienced an ugly world, then sought to recreate that ugliness in their work. Experiencing war corrupted them. Their legacy, their still standing buildings, are not unlike the iron harvest French and Belgian farmers experience every year when they till their fields and find bombs from WWI.
Aesthetically I don't think it's universally that bad. The real ugliness comes in when you actually look inside the units. Quickly becomes apparent how at odds this style is with the way real people want to live. People go to great lengths to differentiate their seemingly identical unit. As if trying to maintain identity in a jail cell.
 or at attempts to "prettify" common areas
Indeed, it’s not mindlessly ugly, it’s deliberately ugly. It’s like the difference between someone accidentally smashing fine porcelain and taking a hammer to it.