2010 volume 28(1) pages 145 – 164
doi:10.1068/c08132

Cite as:
Lee K-W, 2010, "Regulating design in Singapore: a survey of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 28(1) 145 – 164

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Regulating design in Singapore: a survey of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme

Kah-Wee Lee

Received 5 December 2008; in revised form 9 December 2009

Abstract. This paper is a survey of the Government Land Sales (GLS) programme in Singapore as a mechanism through which design aspects of private developments are regulated by the state. By comparing specifications in tender documents with what was eventually built, and tracing how much design weighed in the awarding of tenders, the survey shows how design regulations moved from an experimental phase in the 1960s when controls were sparse and discretionary, to being institutionalised by the 1980s, when controls became comprehensive, precise, and technical. Still, this did not translate planning visions directly into reality, as developers and architects successfully made counterproposals during and after the tender process. By examining the Integrated Resort development at Marina Bay against shifts in political culture and economic conditions in the 1990s, this paper concludes by arguing that the state deployed the GLS programme to procure ‘iconic’ buildings while excluding public involvement from actual design-review processes.

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