Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia
After its independence in the early 1960s, it looked like Singapore had low chances of survival because of its lack of natural hinterland and material resources. But today, on the surface at least, the city appears to defy limitations. Owing to its open economy and function as an entrepôt, vital resources including labour, energy and food are being supplied from the outside. No doubt, Singapore’s greatly controlled and technologically oriented urban model represents a specific answer to its restricted context.

Looking further, across the city-state’s borders, it is apparent that Singapore’s economy uses land and labour far beyond its territorial limits. Its strategic hinterlands (agriculture zones, water sources, sand quarries, etc) are found anywhere from the neighbouring areas of Malaysia and Indonesia, to sites in Cambodia, China and the Middle East.

During the ETH autumn semester 2012, the hinterland was described through the thematic lens of resources. The origin, the flows, ‘the map’ and other territorial dimensions of the five key resources for Singapore – sand, water, food, energy and human labour – were the focus of the study. The investigations have shown the manner in which each resource is increasingly sought by the city-state in a geopolitical frame in the ASEAN countries and beyond.


Teaching team: Milica Topalovic, Martin Knüsel, Marcel Jäggi ETH students: Gabriela Schär, Lino Moser, Simon Zemp, Pascal Deschenaux, Caroline Schillinger, Desirée Damport, Ahmed Belkhodja, Saskja Odermatt, Martin Garcia, Magnus Nickl

Special thanks to experts, collaborators and guests: Joshua Bolchover, Goda Budvytyte, Paolo Cucchi, Cuthbert Choo, Chem Gallery Jurong Island, Stephane Grandgirard, Andy Hauw, Lee Chee Hock and Lee Chee Wee of the Hock Wee Nurseries, Poison Ivy, Sree Kumar, Marie Laverre, Charles Lim, Patricia Lim Pui Huen, Gordon Mathews, Mary Ann O’Donnell, Till Paasche, Myriam Perret, Bas Princen, Colin See, Sharon Siddique, Edgar Tang, Hendrik Tieben, Marc Westhof, Jolovan Wham. Special thanks to BAPPEDA BATAM (Municipal Planning Authority of Batam): Wan Darussalam, Rahmat Kurniawan, Agung Aidil Sahalo, Azril Apriansyah; UNRIKA BATAM (University of the Riau Archipelago): Hanung Nugroho, Disha Nuralmer, Rino Purna Irawan, Tri Sutrisno, Purwono Budi Santoso, Sigit Wardoyo, Yuga She Uchul, Rozaini Zai, Andri Aan Sofian, Agus, Hadi, Rino Gade; UTM (University of Technology Malaysia) FACULTY OF BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Ho Siong, Chau Loon Wai, Abdul Rahim Bin Ramli, Ibrahim Ngah; INSTITUTE OF SOUTH EAST ASIAN STUDIES: Ooi Kee Beng, Francis Hutchinson; PORT OF SINGAPORE AUTHORITY: Ng Geok Kwee, Alvin Chow, Tan Liang Hui; MARITIME AND PORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE: Yi Young Lam, Tiancheng Song, Wee Kiat Lim, Kwong Heng Goh, Ah Cheong Toh, Daniel Tan; MINDEF, NRF: Lui Pao Chuen; NUS ASIA RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Johan Lindquist; NUS DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE: Eric G. L’Hereux, Im Sik Cho, Jörg Rekittke; NUS DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY: James Sidaway, Tim Bunnell; SINGAPORE MARITIME INSTITUTE: Jason Lin, Daniel Zhang, Ace Leong and URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE: Charlene Chua, Heather Chi.

Special thanks to ETH ZURICH and FUTURE CITIES LABORATORY: Iris Belle, Remo Burkhard, Stephen Cairns, Kees Christiaanse, Alexander Erath, Anna Gasco, Lisa Giordano, Mathias Gunz, Uta Hassler, Dirk Hebel, Max Hirsh, Susanne Hofer, Rolf Jenni, Vesna Jovanovic, Ozan Karaman, Rudolf Krieg, Benjamin Leclair, Alex Lehnerer, Kevin Lim, Charlotte Malterre, Christian Müller Inderbitzin, Lwin Maung Chan Myae, Edda Ostertag, Faizah Binte Othman, Christian Schmid, Gerhard Schmitt, Sin SooMeng Daniel, Cheryl Song, Lorenzo Stieger, Amanda Tan, Tao Wang, Denise Weber and Ying Zhou.