Farsightedness the key to fulfilling long-term demands
A key message underlined by the Cities of the Future exhibition is that sensitive design has a role to play in creating beautiful, eco-friendly new cities and communities for people.
'We need to be making decisions now about how we plan cities that reconcile ecological responsibility with visionary design and cost-effectiveness,' co-curator Richard Burdett said.
Quality leisure, education and cultural facilities were becoming essential to Asia, he said.
Environmental and ecological centres, equipped with sophisticated, user-friendly interactive displays would become an important feature of the cultural landscape of the future - the new museums of the 21st century.
'Advanced information technology has given rise to a new type of public building that will feature strongly in the cities of the future.' An example is Eden Centre, the world's largest environmentally controlled glass house, in Cornwall, England, designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners.
Built on an old quarry, the project contains a data bank of all major plant species and uses the latest technology and materials to create dramatic architectural expression.
Innovative proposals by Future Systems for The Ark at the Earth Centre in Doncaster, England, also perfectly capture the spirit of the emerging form of eco-conscious public buildings.
Its all-embracing butterfly skin encloses a vast hall containing information and displays about world ecology and it is expected it will become a popular leisure attraction and an invaluable educational resource. Both the Eden Project and plans for The Ark, with innovative and challenging briefs, represent a 'pure synthesis of engineering technology and architectural expression'.
In Singapore, the Temasek Polytechnic reflects the need for well-designed cultural and educational buildings.
Conceived by one of Britain's greatest architects, the late James Stirling (together with his partner Michael Wilford), the design combines the sense of reflection and calm of traditional university campuses with the needs of a technologically advanced society.
It is also a fine example of international collaboration, marrying local materials and construction technologies with a new language and expression appropriate to both the educational institution itself and the culture of Singapore.
The importance of the arts, culture and leisure to quality of life and civic identity is also demonstrated by projects such as the Fanling Indoor Stadium in Hong Kong (by Rocco Design).
The 5,000-seat complex is a 'pragmatic yet sophisticated design that combines the most advanced technologies with the need to establish a strong civic identity' in a changing urban environment.
New urban communities, such as the Wu Schi Harbour and Acer New Town in Taiwan (The Oval Partnership) at the same time reflect a search for environmental and social balance.
The layout of the buildings, with central facilities and well-designed public spaces, reveals a concern for communal living that rejects isolated urban sprawl and promotes energy-conscious, compact urban life.
Within this context, the Tsui Lam and Lok Fu parks in Hong Kong (designed by Aspinwall Clouston) illustrate the importance of creating peaceful and beautiful public spaces at the heart of the frenetic modern city, harmonising water, plants and modern material.
These themes also underline the design philosophy of modern business parks and office campuses such as Stockley Park in London (Arup Associates) and Parc-BIT in Majorca, Spain, (Richard Rogers Partnership).
Flexible and sustainable new buildings have been specifically designed to integrate with their surroundings and respond to changes in the natural environment and work environment.