It is common knowledge that when one meets a new person, crucial first impressions are formed in the initial seven seconds. It is not quite the same with places. Here the generous time slot of the length of the trip to ones hotel is the allotted time. My journey to the university campus left me with two main conclusions: one, the weather is very hot and two, Singaporean architects love plants.
On the first point, there was very little surprise. I had been thoroughly briefed by every man and his dog that the weather was going to be hot, humid and often times rainy. I had come prepared. I had two fans, air-conditioned rooms (a splurge I decided was crucial to my sanity) and summer clothes galore. However, walking into a solid wall of air is something no amount of planning can prepare one for; it is no more pleasant the hundredth than it was that first time at the airport. Sadly, my small hope that it may be possible for one to acclimatise to this brutal climate was cruelly shot down in this morning’s orientation briefing where one of the speakers assured us that, despite having lived in Singapore for thirty years, he had still not adapted to the climate.
My second observation was how every other building was shrouded in greenery. It some cases, it was overflowing balcony planters but in many more the plants were as much a part of the uniquely shaped buildings as the glass and concrete. This thought has remained with me since my initial taxi ride. Every spare bit of space is filled with plants while trees rise up between buildings. This green-fingered approach to architecture unequivocally brightens the city and rejuvenates the weary traveler with spectacular shades from grassy green to emerald forest. I am undeniably curious to see whether this design is carried out throughout Singapore or if it unique to my corner of this cosmopolitan island.