American urban geographer Joel Kotkin identifies three great characteristics of cities: safe, busy and sacred ("Hotel Singapore or the Sacred Place?"; last Saturday). I would suggest that there is much more to being a great city. The notion of "sense of place" for a city is more than being linked to religion or being somehow sacred.
In truth, most cities have a number of their parts that have sense of place.
Sense of place defines a part of a city by its unique heritage, culture and physical character. It comes through in organic planning and sensitive design, and not by wiping the slate clean. Activities, essentially defined by culture (or a number of cultures that make up that city), also contribute to sense of place, as does the use of those places by people.
All of these things determine that special quality that people feel and appreciate.
In Singapore, places such as Little India, Chinatown, Arab Street and Clarke Quay have this special quality.
Singapore has a good tradition of designing parks and open spaces such as the Botanic Gardens, which contribute to a sense of place.