Constructing a technical hegemony : the use and development of reinforced concrete in colonial Singapore from 1914-1956
Chia, Valerie Yue Min
Date of Issue2017-03-27
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Singapore is surrounded by concrete structures all around yet little has been written about the history of the material in Singapore. This paper argues that concrete had already existed since colonial times and was a substance of colonial culture by functioning as a key material in the building of a technocratic "scaffold of empire." My paper will cover three very different representations of concrete in architecture in the building of the Federated Malay States Railways terminus at Tanjong Pagar, the Cathay Building at Dhoby Ghaut and the Merdeka Bridge over the Kallang Basin from 1914-1956. These three structures were all key “sites of culture” that helped to reinforce the colonial beliefs in commerce and empire especially through the construction of the terminal at Tanjong Pagar. At the same time, the use of concrete facilitated the negotiation of a cosmopolitan culture and identity especially amongst a growing sense of middle class culture in the building of the Cathay and the Merdeka Bridge project. All three examples are key to understanding current post-colonial attitudes of concrete, cosmopolitanism and modernism in Singapore.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University