Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Why some Ideas take a long time to be taken up?

In Beauty, Design, History, Leadership, Nature, Strategy, Vision on 2010/09/10 at 10:43 pm

I don’t know.

Roof gardens and “sky rise” landscaping is now a rage in many cities such as New York and Singapore.  It’s like, “why didn’t we think of this before?”

Le Corbusier in his 1926 manifesto, Five Points toward a New Architecture” said this:

“The roof gardens. The flat roof demands in the first place systematic utilization for domestic purposes: roof terrace, roof garden. On the other hand, the reinforced concrete demands protection against changing temperatures. Overactivity on the part of the reinforced concrete is prevented by the maintenance of a constant humidity on the roof concrete. The roof terrace satisfies both demands (a rain- dampened layer of sand covered with concrete slabs with lawns in the interstices; the earth of the flowerbeds in direct contact with the layer of sand). In this way the rain water will flow off extremely slowly. Waste pipes in the interior of the building. Thus a latent humidity will remain continually on the roof skin. The roof gardens will display highly luxuriant vegetation. Shrubs and even small trees up to 3 or 4 metres tall can be planted.

In this way the roof garden will become the most favoured place in the building. In general, roof gardens mean to a city the recovery of all the built- up area.”

[Le Corbusier/Pierre Jeanneret: Five Points towards a new architecture. Originally published in Almanach de l’Architecture moderne, Paris 1926.]

Almost 85 years ago, Le Corbusier had figured out, at least in part, the need for landscape to balance the harshness of the urban landscape of the high density “cities of tomorrow”, and had carefully argued for freeing up the ground plane by lifting all building on piloties (stilts) and maintaining ground footprint by cultivating vegetation on all rooftops.

This is a reminder to know our history, our pioneers and institutional memory.


Know your Minimum Asian History

In History, No Readymade World, Strategy on 2010/02/17 at 12:18 pm

I complied this recently (from various sources) for a strategic planning exercise:

1788 – British Navy captain Arthur Phillip founds a penal settlement at Sydney. He had arrived with a fleet of 11 vessels, carrying nearly 800 convicts. The Aboriginal population numbers several hundred thousand.

1819 – Sir Stamford Raffles of British East India Company establishes trading post on Singapore island.

1826 – British settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore combine to form the Colony of Straits Settlements, from where the British extend their influence by establishing protectorates over the Malay sultanates of the peninsula.

1826 – Singapore, Malacca and Penang become British colony of the Straits Settlements.

1832 – Singapore becomes capital of Straits Settlements. The port attracts thousands of migrants from China, India and other parts of Asia.

1850s – Australia: Gold is found at several locations leading to gold rushes throughout the decade. The population increases three-fold in 10 years to pass the million mark. An influx of Chinese leads to restrictions on their entry. Aborigines are treated very badly and their numbers collapse.

1856 – Australia becomes the first country to introduce the secret ballot – or ‘Australian ballot’ – for elections.

1858 – India comes under direct rule of the British crown after failed Indian mutiny.

1867 – Straits Settlements become crown colony of British Empire.

1869 – Suez Canal opens, trade in Asia booms.

1894 – Japan goes to war with China. Japan’s better equipped forces win victory in just nine months.

1895 – China cedes Taiwan to Japan and permits Japan to trade in China.

1901 – The country is unified. The Commonwealth of Australia comes into being on 1st January.

1904 – Japan goes to war with Russia. Japanese victory in 1905.

1910 – Japan annexes Korea after three years of fighting. Japan is now one of the world’s great powers.

1911 – Canberra is founded and designated as the capital.

1914 – Japan joins World War I on the side of Britain and her allies. Japan has limited participation.

1914 – Outbreak of World War I. Australia commits hundreds of thousands of troops to the British war effort. Their participation – alongside New Zealanders – in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey in 1915 leads to heavy casualties. The Gallipoli landings help cement a sense of identity in the young nation.

1920s – Extreme nationalism begins to take hold in Japan. The emphasis is on a preservation of traditional Japanese values, and a rejection of “Western” influence.

1922 – Singapore becomes main British naval base in East Asia.

1923 – Earthquake in Tokyo region kills more than 100,000 people.

1929 – The Great Depression following the Wall Street Crash hits Australia hard. Recovery is uneven, and the Labor government is defeated in the election in 1931.

1931 – Japan invades Manchuria, renames it and installs a puppet regime.

1937 – Japan goes to war with China. By the end of the year, Japan has captured Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing. Japanese forces commit atrocities, including the “Rape of Nanjing”, in which up to 300,000 Chinese civilians are said to have been killed.

1939 – Australia follows Britain’s lead and declares war on Nazi Germany.

1939 – Outbreak of World War II in Europe. With the fall of France to Nazi Germany in 1940, Japan moves to occupy French Indo-China.

1941 – Japan launches a surprise attack on the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Twelve ships are sunk, with a further 9 damaged; nearly 2,500 people are killed. The US and its main allies declare war on Japan the following day.

1941 – The US declares war on Japan. Australia turns to the US for help in its defence after the Japanese take Singapore. Australia allows the US to base its supreme command for the Pacific war on its territory.

1941 – World War II. Japan bombs Singapore.

1942 – Japan occupies a succession of countries, including the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma and Malaya. In June, US aircraft carriers defeat the Japanese at the Battle of Midway.

1942 – Singapore falls to Japan, which renames it Syonan (Light of the South).

1942-45 – Japanese occupation of Malaya.

1945 – Japan defeated. Singapore under British military administration.

1945 – US planes drop two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima (6 August), the second on Nagasaki (9 August). Emperor Hirohito surrenders and relinquishes his divine status. Japan is placed under US military government. All Japanese military and naval forces are disbanded.

1946 – Singapore becomes separate crown colony.

1947 – A new constitution comes into force. It establishes a parliamentary system, with all adults eligible to vote. Japan renounces war and pledges not to maintain land, sea or air forces for that purpose. The emperor is granted ceremonial status.

1947 – End of British rule and partition of sub-continent into mainly Hindu India and Muslim-majority state of Pakistan.

1948 – Australia begins a scheme for immigration from Europe. Over the next 30 years, more than two million people arrive, about one-third of them from Britain.

1948 – British-ruled Malayan territories unified under Federation of Malaya.

1948 – Mahatma Gandhi assassinated by Hindu extremist.

1949 – 1 October – Mao Zedong, having led the Communists to victory against the Nationalists after more than 20 years of civil war, proclaims the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Nationalists retreat to the island of Taiwan and set up a government there.

1956 – Japan joins United Nations.

1956 – Olympic Games held in Melbourne.

1957 – Federation of Malaya becomes independent from Britain with Tunku Abdul Rahman as prime minister.

1958 – Mao launches the “Great Leap Forward”, a five-year economic plan. Farming is collectivised and labour-intensive industry is introduced. The drive produces economic breakdown and is abandoned after two years. Disruption to agriculture is blamed for the deaths by starvation of millions of people following poor harvests.

1959 – Self-government attained with Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister.

1963 – British colonies of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore join Federation of Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia.

1963 – Singapore joins the Federation of Malaya, Sabah (North Borneo), and Sarawak in the Federation of Malaysia.

1964 – Olympic Games held in Tokyo.

1965 – Singapore pulls out of the Federation of Malaysia, at Malaysia’s invitation, amid political and ethnic tensions. The territory becomes an independent republic and joins the United Nations.

1965 – Singapore withdraws from Malaysia, which is reduced to 13 states; communist insurgency begins in Sarawak.

1966-76 – Chinese “Cultural Revolution”, Mao’s 10-year political and ideological campaign aimed at

1967 – Singapore founder member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

1969 – Malaysia: Malays stage anti-Chinese riots in the context of increasing frustration over the economic success of the ethnic Chinese.

1975 – Australia introduces new immigration laws, restricting the number of unskilled workers allowed into the country.

1976 – Mao dies. “Gang of Four”, including Mao’s widow, jockey for power but are arrested and convicted of crimes against the state. From 1977 Deng Xiaoping emerges as the dominant figure among pragmatists in the leadership. Under him, China undertakes far-reaching economic reforms.

1979 – Chinese Government imposes one-child policy in effort to curb population growth.

1982 – Japanese car firm Honda opens its first plant in the US.

1984 December – Gas leak at Union Carbide pesticides plant in Bhopal, India. Thousands are killed immediately; many more subsequently die or are left disabled.

1989 – Stockmarkets open in Shanghai and Shenzhen.

1989 – Chinese Troops open fire on demonstrators who have camped for weeks in Tiananmen Square initially to demand the posthumous rehabilitation of former CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang, who was forced to resign in 1987. The official death toll is 200. International outrage leads to sanctions.

1992 – The Citizenship Act is amended to remove swearing an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Prime Minister Paul Keating’s Labor government pledges to make Australia a republic and to concentrate on links with Asia.

1992 – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks China’s economy as third largest in the world after the US and Japan.

1995 January – An earthquake hits central Japan, killing thousands and causing widespread damage. The city of Kobe is hardest hit.

1997 – Asian financial crisis spells end of decade of impressive economic growth.

1997 – Hong Kong reverts from British to Chinese control.

1997 – The Japanese economy enters a severe recession.

1998 – Singapore slips into recession for the first time in 13 years during Asian financial crisis.

1999 – Macao reverts from Portuguese to Chinese rule.

2000 – Australia hosts the Olympic Games in Sydney, the most popular ever.

2000 May – India marks the birth of its billionth citizen.

2001 February – Malaysian Government decides to proceed with construction of huge Bakun hydroelectric power project on island of Borneo despite serious environmental concerns.

2001 January – A pipeline feeding gas to Singapore from Indonesia’s Natuna field in the South China Sea opens.

2001 January – Australia celebrates 100 years since its inauguration as the Commonwealth of Australia.

2001 January – Massive earthquakes hit the western state of Gujarat, India, leaving at least 30,000 dead.

2001 March – Dozens arrested during Malaysia’s worst ethnic clashes in decades between Malays and ethnic Indians.

2001 November – China joins the World Trade Organisation.

2001 September – Malaysia, Singapore resolve long-standing disputes, ranging from water supplies to air space. They also agree to build a new bridge and tunnel.

2002 January – Japan, Singapore sign free trade agreement.

2002 October – Australia mourns as 88 of its citizens are killed in a night club bombing in Bali, Indonesia, which some call Australia’s September 11.

2003 April – Outbreak of pneumonia-like Sars virus

2003 June – Hong Kong is declared free of Sars. Days later the World Health Organization lifts its Sars-related travel warning for Beijing.

2003 March-April – China and Hong Kong are hit by the pneumonia-like Sars virus, thought to have originated in Guangdong province in November 2002. Strict quarantine measures are enforced to stop the disease spreading.

2003 May – Singapore becomes first Asian nation to sign free-trade deal with US.

2003 October – Launch of China’s first manned spacecraft: Astronaut Yang Liwei is sent into space by a Long March 2F rocket.

2004 December – Scores of people in Malaysia are killed in the Asian tsunami disaster. Malaysia delays planned deportations of many thousands of illegal immigrants, most of them from Indonesia.

2004 December – Thousands are killed when tidal waves, caused by a powerful undersea earthquake off the Indonesian coast, devastate coastal communities in the south and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

2004 November – China signs a landmark trade agreement with 10 south-east Asian countries; the accord could eventually unite 25% of the world’s population in a free-trade zone.

2005 October – China conducts its second manned space flight, with two astronauts circling Earth in the Shenzhou VI capsule.

2006 August – Official news agency says 18 million people are affected by what it describes as the country’s worst drought in 50 years.

2006 July – New China-Tibet railway line, the world’s highest train route, begins operating.

2006 May – Work on the structure of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, is completed.

2006 November – Government says pollution has degraded China’s environment to a critical level, threatening health and social stability.

2007 October – China launches its first moon orbiter.

2007 October – The world’s largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, flies from Singapore to Sydney on its first commercial flight run by state-controlled Singapore Airlines.

2007 September – A new Roman Catholic bishop of Beijing is consecrated – the first for over 50 years to have the tacit approval of the Pope.

2008 August – Beijing hosts Olympic Games.

2008 May – A massive earthquake hits Sichuan province, killing tens of thousands.

2008 November – Nearly 200 people are killed and hundreds injured in a series of co-ordinated attacks by gunmen on the main tourist and business area of India’s financial capital Mumbai. India blames militants from Pakistan for the attacks and demands that Islamabad take strong action against those responsible.

2008 September – Astronaut Zhai Zhigang completes China’s first spacewalk during the country’s third manned space mission, Shenzhou VII.

2008 September – early 53,000 Chinese children fall ill after drinking tainted milk, leading Premier Wen Jiabao to apologise for the scandal.

2009 July – Leaders of China and Taiwan exchange direct messages for the first time in more than 60 years.

2009 March – China’s central bank calls for new global reserve currency run by International Monetary Fund to replace the US dollar.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
George Santayana
Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, (1863-1952)