Liu Thai Ker is a planner, architect and director of RSP Architects Planners and Engineers (Pte) Ltd in Singapore. Liu spent 20 years at Singapore’s Housing and Development Board starting in 1969, ten of them as chief executive officer, and oversaw the construction of half-a-million apartments in the city-state. In New Delhi for the launch of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems, Liu said in an interview that all Indian cities are in dire need of planning.
Every city needs to plan. And for big cities, which have over 1.5 million population, the skill of putting roads together and putting industries in the right place becomes quite overwhelming. So any city above one or 1.5 million needs to plan according to the modern concept. But the problem is that this concept is not well understood by politicians and planners.
The old theory of city planning has been at two levels—city level and new town level, and this worked well when cities were small. But when cities have five million people, that concept is not adequate. So, in Sinagpore, we break down the city into regions. Each region is a million people. And below each region, you have new towns.
But when you have these layers, most of the things can be bought in the town, and then you don’t need to go to the big city and then the traffic is dispersed. This reduces the amount of time spent on the road and the amount of energy wasted.