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Six cities offer

valuable lessons

by Serene Tng

Six cities show that bold vision, persistence and clever strategies can address difficult challenges, transform neighbourhoods and raise the quality of life for many citizens. In addition to the City of New York being named the 2012 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Laureate in March, six other organisations have been identified for Special Mention. These Special Mentions offer equally valuable lessons for other cities to learn from.

Khayelitsha, Cape Town
South Africa

Khayelitsha was established in 1983 as a dormitory township. Located 35 km outside of Cape Town, it was without recreational, economic, social or cultural facilities. Today, the sprawling settlement is home to about 700,000 residents. Because of its difficult socio-economic challenges, the town has been experiencing an exceptionally high crime rate. AHT Group AG & SUN Development successfully implemented the “Violence Prevention Through Urban Upgrading” Programme that has significantly addressed the most basic need of residents ­— their personal safety. And it does so in a remarkably cost-efficient and effective way with relatively simple urban design measures. Buildings and structures are well-positioned to provide visual surveillance and pedestrian paths are well-lit to offer safer routes. Key to the success of the programme was the strong support of residents from extensive consultations. The programme is already accepted by Cape Town and will be implemented in other South African cities.


Ahmedabad is India’s seventh largest city. Until recently, it was caught in a vicious downward cycle. But it is starting to see some first signs of transformation as a result of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)’s comprehensive City Development Plan initiated in 2005. The plan looks at unlocking potential land through urban reform, investing in the environment and infrastructure, addressing urban poor issues beyond basic needs, and strengthening its capacity and institutions. One early success is the development of the Bus Rapid Transit System which is addressing the transport needs of the burgeoning population. The Kankaria Lake was also redeveloped in 2008. This former dilapidated and polluted royal bathing ground has become a vibrant, cultural and recreation centre after environmental improvements, re-organisation of traffic movement and a rehabilitation of food vendors in the area. Their effort is an inspiration to cities dealing with pollution problems, worsening traffic conditions and a lack of affordable housing.


From a “country town” blighted by sprawl and urban decay to a culturally vibrant metropolis, Brisbane has become one of Australia’s most admired cities. Brisbane City Council’s Urban Renewal Brisbane agency is recognised for its significant role in this transformation with its sustained initiatives over the past 20 years. Its efforts have revived local economies and inner-city living by regenerating derelict industrial sites and revitalising the city’s neglected riverfront.

Former industrial and warehouse areas in the Central Business District fringe and along the Brisbane River are now highly attractive, lively neighbourhoods of mixed-use that embrace and enhance the area’s industrial built heritage. By co-funding exemplary demonstration and catalyst projects, the city has fostered confidence and buy-in from the market and this, in turn, has changed attitudes towards higher-density living, city growth and urban renewal.

A new 120-page coffee table book, “Cities in transformation: Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize”, is now on sale at all major bookstores. It presents insights and lessons from the Prize Laureates and Special Mentions in 2010 and 2012.



Skyline is a bi-monthly publication by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.




















Harare Urban Square © TKLA

LEFT: Consultation with the community © TKLA
RIGHT: Harare Urban Park © TKLA

Bus Rapid Transit System for a growing population
© Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation

Dazzling Kankaria Lake © Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation

Bird's eye view of the Brisbane River © City of Brisbane

LEFT: Vibrant Spencer Laneway © City of Brisbane
RIGHT: CityCycle in Brisbane (foreground) and the Brisbane Powerhouse in the background which is now transformed into a cultural facility © City of Brisbane

Brisbane River with the central business district in the background © City of Brisbane