Friday 20 March 2015

Rail Corridor on track to be continuous 24km green stretch

Six areas earmarked for special attention as URA calls for proposals
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 19 Mar 2015

SIX areas along the Rail Corridor are to be given special attention when it is finally developed, and the 24km path will be restored to be a fully continuous green stretch.

Under a request for proposal launched by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday, four areas have been earmarked as "activity nodes" and gateways to the former railway track.

These are the former Bukit Timah railway station, the old Bukit Timah fire station, and two areas near the Kranji and Buona Vista MRT stations.

There will also be two areas of special interest - the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, and the stretch near Sungei Pang Sua canal in Choa Chu Kang.

The pre-qualification stage of the request for proposal began yesterday. Design teams have until April 23 to submit a statement of intent, bearing in mind these planning goals, which were drawn up after more than three years of consultations over the path's future. The path runs between Tanjong Pagar and Woodlands.

No timeframe has been set for the development. When it was first announced in 2011 that the Rail Corridor would be developed, there were fears that its unique nature as an island-spanning green stretch would not be preserved.

However, the URA has based its planning and design goals on feedback received, and proposals should ensure that the Rail Corridor is continuous and seamlessly connected, reflect its heritage as a former track for Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu railway, and preserve its green nature.

"The quality of the space is really defined by the greenery," said URA senior director of physical planning Tan See Nin.

Teams should even have a "landscape strategy". The URA noted that some stretches of the route are quite bare, while others have trees with weak branches.

The URA also wants the Rail Corridor to be inclusive and accessible, for instance, with the addition of shelters and toilets, while the lighting has to be sensitive to the surroundings.

Retiree Tan Cheng Hui, 57, noted that some stretches are muddy and impassable after rain. "These can be improved so that more people can enjoy the green corridor."

Editor Choo Lip Sin, 44, said making the track more user- friendly could be done sensitively - such as by adding shelters that "reflect the heritage of what the Rail Corridor used to be".

In May, up to five design teams will be shortlisted to develop the concept master plan and specific proposals. A public exhibition will be held from October to December to get feedback on the ideas of the successful team or teams.

From March to May next year, they will come up with a preliminary design for a 4km "signature stretch" of the Rail Corridor, which has yet to be revealed.

URA chief executive Ng Lang said: "Our intention is to continue to sensitively stage the development of this project with the community, and not rush into developing the whole stretch at one go."

* Five teams shortlisted to transform Rail Corridor
By Cheryl Faith Wee, The Straits Times, 21 May 2015

FIVE teams made up of local and international architects are in the running to transform part of Singapore's Rail Corridor.

In March, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) called for proposals for a masterplan and concept for the land.

The 24km-long route, which stretches from Woodlands to Tanjong Pagar, was previously land used by Malaysia's KTM railway before it was returned to Singapore in 2011.

In total, 64 teams, including tie-ups between local and international firms, sent in submissions in March and April.

The URA announced the five shortlisted yesterday.

URA #News Release: We are pleased to announce the five teams shortlisted to participate in the...
Posted by Urban Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

They include a tie-up between local firm DP Architects and Dutch design and landscaping firm West 8.

Another shortlisted team comprised local company MKPL Architects and China-based Turenscape International. The other teams featured firms from Hong Kong, Japan and the United States that are partnering Singapore architects.

Director for the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities at the National University of Singapore, Dr Malone-Lee Lai Choo - a member of the evaluation panel - said: "We want the Corridor to be an outstanding urban asset and are therefore open to innovative concepts... ideas that demonstrate freshness of approach and potentially exceptional design qualities that will enhance our urban landscape."

The teams have until Aug 21 to come up with detailed designs for a concept and masterplan for the Rail Corridor. These will be on display in a public exhibition in October and November.

One of the shortlisted teams will eventually get to work on the preliminary design for a 4km-long stretch of the Rail Corridor, between the former Bukit Timah Railway Station and the Hillview area.

Landmarks along this stretch include two steel truss bridges across Bukit Timah Road, Dunearn Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road next to Rail Mall.

Mr Siew Man Kok, 53, chairman and director of MKPL Architects, said: "We are in the midst of a competition so we cannot reveal our plans, but you can expect something very interesting.

"The Rail Corridor is a unique project because it is a rustic strip of land that runs through Singapore, in such a big contrast to the rest of it."

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