The new wave of urbanism is coming, and architects are having a field day with their own, more inclusive, design vocabulary.
The idea is that the buildings they design should reflect the city, and not reflect the colour of its residents.
The new vocabulary has been used by architects from Singapore to Paris, and it is now making its way into the streetscape.
But there are still a few major issues.
In Singapore, one of the architects on the shortlist to design the city’s next skyscraper was the architect that famously created the black-and-white subway system in the US.
And Singaporean architects and city planners are now being asked to make their own vocabulary.
Some architects have even gone as far as asking the public to stop using their names in public buildings.
The Singapore government is looking at ways to address some of the issues.
One of the ideas is a code of conduct to make sure architects don’t use words that might be seen as racist or insensitive to groups of people, such as people of colour.
It will also be possible for architects to use a code that would require them to use terms and symbols from local cultures, but will not be limited to.
“It will be possible to make new terms and new language,” says Kuan Yee-ming, the architect behind the new language, called Nouns and Nounverbs.
“For example, there is a very popular way of saying ‘nam-tat-tuong’ in Singapore.
But what is ‘num-tats-tuang’?” This is a form of the English word for ‘thank you’.
“If we were to say ‘thank the nam-tuongs’ we would not be doing it with the correct language,” she says.
This could make some people uncomfortable.
“I am worried about how this language is going to affect some people,” she adds.
The code will also include more than just “nam tat-toung” and “thank the people”.
The government is also working with local language groups to create a framework for how the new vocabulary will be used.
“We want to make the language more inclusive and inclusive of the communities who might be affected by this,” says Yee, “so that people can say ‘hello, how are you?’ in a way that is understandable and not perceived as racist.”
So, is there a way to be more inclusive?
“Yes, there’s an opportunity to create new terms,” says architect Peter Wong.
“One of the things I hope to see is that we can create a language for the different groups, and I think that that would be good,” he adds.
“But that also has to be balanced with the need to be inclusive.
We can’t be just one language, and we can’t just say ‘goodbye’.
We have to make language inclusive.”
There are some people in Singapore who are uncomfortable with the new terms.
The prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, recently proposed banning the use of the term ‘nim’ for people of the same race as Singaporean, and he also wants to create an online dictionary that would identify all the different terms.
But it will be a challenge.
“There is no way to create language that would stop people saying ‘hello’ to people of a different race,” says Wong.
The government says it wants to do something similar, with a code to make it clear what terms are acceptable and what are not.
The process could take up to two years, but the government hopes to have the new code in place by the end of the year.
This is just the latest attempt to change the language in the country.
The country was a land of opportunity, a place of opportunity for ethnic minorities, and then it was colonised by foreigners.
“Singapore has been a great country for people with disabilities, but people with English have been the target of a lot of hate and discrimination,” says Mr Wong.
He says that the country is now looking to create more inclusive language.
“The new language will make it easier for people to use,” he says.
“And I hope that people will use it to make a more inclusive society.”
But there is one issue that the government has yet to tackle.
In its own words, the new rules will not apply to all architects, but to those who “use language that is perceived as offensive to racial minorities”.
It will be up to the Singapore government to decide how to implement the new legislation, and whether the language will be changed.