Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We Built This City on Rock and Roll, With The Help Of a Significant Granitic Pluton.

Daylight and a little bit of driving around sure makes it easier to see what a place looks like. And let me tell you, from the street or from the rooftops, this place is all edges and angles. It's like some wild Architect's throw-down, where any size, shape or configuration of building that can be imagined has been executed in glass, metal and concrete*.

The feet of these architectural id-expressions are garnished with a hundred thousand red-tile-roofed buildings built in an earlier time, sited every which way in order to maximize use of space in this tiny place. Of course, an earlier time could mean the colonial era of centuries ago or a decade ago; the city seems to be reinventing itself on a near daily basis.

What makes it truly amazing to a newcomer's eyes is that every space that is not built up is filled with blooming tropical greenery; there is no middle ground. And rather than sprawling, Lion City built upward and inward with increasing density--exponentially increasing density, it would seem. The joke about the national bird being the crane applies here; the skyline is replete with construction cranes in any direction you choose to look. We passed too many work sites to keep track of in our relatively short drive yesterday, and they ran the gamut from public works to office towers to luxury residential buildings.
That design is made of living vines,
growing on the side of the building.

The comment about the difference between Great Britain and the United States being that in Great Britain, two hundred miles is 'far' and in the U.S., two hundred years is 'old' is informative. There are more people living in the building across the street from our hotel than in my whole county. Crap, there are more services available without setting foot outside this building than are available in my whole county. If I overlaid my daily commute on this island, my feet would be seriously wet on both ends, no matter how circuitous a route I chose. The country, as it stands, isn't as old as me. 

Since we arrived, I have been grappling with the impulse to force my impressions of this place into the template of some other place. It's a natural human response to coming to terms with something completely foreign in every meaning of the world. And I keep failing, both in my efforts to not compare it with something else I already know, but in simply finding something else to compare it to. It just doesn't work.  Every aspect is just too different; it is a sui generis manifestation of the human impulse to create.

*My favorite to date may be the Marina Bay, which appears to be three towers with Galactica docked on the roof.

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