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URA – The Building Blocks Of Society


Tiw Pek Hong loves the mix of the arts and sciences in ­Architecture.

The arts and sciences have always ­fascinated me. The design aspect of the arts provides me a sense of ­achievement being able to create something out of my imagination. Physics and ­Biology of the ­sciences, ground my imagination with the laws of nature.

Architecture, being such a blend of the arts and sciences, was my choice. The subject allowed my creativity to be applied within the logical confines of the sciences – I could design and ­create environments in the form of buildings, structures and spaces.

I chose the Urban Redevelopment ­Authority (URA) Undergraduate ­Scholarship to pursue my interest in Architecture at the School of Design and Environment in NUS. It also gave me the opportunity to ­subsequently harness my creativity to benefit the people and communities in ­Singapore, through the design and ­building of public infrastructures and facilities.

A key highlight of my university days was a one-semester student exchange ­programme spent at Lund University. With the financial support of the URA ­Scholarship, I spent an eye-opening five months in Sweden interacting with talents from around the world. The exchange of ideas, views and sharing of perspectives were simply amazing. Academic discourse in the form of design critique sessions was intense yet deeply enriching. Being able to observe and learn how architects from different countries and cultures work was the biggest take-away from the programme.

After graduating from NUS, I joined URA in the Conservation and Urban ­Design Group. My department deals with designing, managing and implementing environment enhancement projects. The projects include ­community ­spaces to recreational ­destinations and public infrastructure such as ­pedestrian malls. I work with ­architects, engineers, contractors, and officers from the other government agencies on a daily basis. Together, we work closely with stakeholders and members of the public to gather ­feedback and resolve issues.

Being a URA architect is interesting because I am not always desk-bound.  My work involves frequent site ­visits, meetings and inspections, which can be both challenging and ­stressful at times. It is always a challenge to ­resolve issues that ­involve ­multiple parties with different needs. ­However, I get a huge sense of ­satisfaction ­whenever I see people using, ­enjoying, and benefiting from the projects that URA implemented.  The satisfaction comes from knowing that I played a big role in completing in these ­projects and that I had a hand in shaping Singapore.

URA Scholarship
Age: 26
Attained: BA in Architecture (2nd Upper Hons) & Master of Architecture, NUS
Now: Architect, URA
From: Anglo-Chinese Junior College