National Geographic, The rapid rate at which the world is changing, innovation, technology, and science will define the overall development and growth of the nations. The demand for technological skills is growing at full tilt, and the day is not far away when the ongoing technological revolution will replace humans in different sectors. 

According to a U.S. News and World Report article published in May ’21, Asian countries dominate the list of the nations to have the most technological competency. Singapore ranks eighth and continues to shine. Singapore is the land of visionaries and businesses that constantly look for innovation. The “innovation ecosystem” has led Singapore to a position of a global hub for innovation and technological start-ups.

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Singapore: global hub for innovation_©  City of the Future: Singapore – Full Episode | National Geographic – YouTube

The 45 min episode named City of the Future: Singapore, produced by Beach House Pictures for National Geographic in partnership with the Ministry of communications and information of Singapore, throws glace on how Singapore is making the “science fiction” of yesterday into today’s “reality.” 

The episode broadly comes under the umbrella of infotainment. Directed by Dylan Reibling, the documentary was available on Nov 24, 2018, on the National Geographic youtube channel for free. The city-state has undergone tremendous change in a short span of five decades. With the scarcity of land and natural resources, Singapore had no other option for survival other than innovation. 

The documentary tries to enlighten on the various shortcomings the island has faced since independence in 1965 and how they tackle it. 

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Planner and Architects are now towards smart public housing facilities in Singapore_© City of the Future: Singapore – Full Episode | National Geographic – YouTube

With the rapid influx of people, the requirement of sustainable urban environments is continuously needed. The island city-state is half the size of Metropolitan London and houses a 5.7M population. Even after limitations in natural resources, Singapore is one of the most liveable cities in Asia. Their island’s basic concept is to plan for years to come without compromising the needs of the present. They consider Ideas as intangible resources for real tangible benefits. 

The documentary talks about increasing urbanization, water scarcity, exploring air rights, diabetes among the elderly, shortage of food resources, preservation of biodiversity, drone technology, promotion of start-up culture, and Fintech.

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Land reclamation is practiced to overcome the shortage of land._© City of the Future: Singapore – Full Episode | National Geographic – YouTube

The points discussed below will help you identify if the documentary will interest you or not.

Crisp Approach

The documentary doesn’t stretch on one topic or sector. Instead provides the viewers with a variety of innovations that are taking place on the island. Seeing a solution doesn’t make any sense without knowing the problem and its reason. In the same way, the documentary showcases the various factors responsible for the limitations with a brief and crisp reference to the history and the innovative solutions they are utilizing to overcome it. 

Due to its crisp approach, the documentary was successfully able to provide a larger perspective on different aspects, needs, and requirements of Singaporeans in a short duration of time that would forever stay in the mind of the viewers.


The visuals and cinematic scenes beautifully captured the essence and the innovative culture of the island. The drone shots encapsulated the uber urban infrastructure and environment of the city-state. The close-up shots provide details. Most of the innovative technologies required detailed explanatory animated videos. The nice-looking animated visuals are created to inform the viewers with the necessary knowledge and explanation to understand the technology.

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To achieve food sustainability Benjamin Swan produced food in lab without soil and sunlight._© City of the Future: Singapore – Full Episode | National Geographic – YouTube

Tone and Language

In any audiovisual product, both audio and visual play an integral role especially, when it’s a nonfiction documentary. Narrated by Adrian Pang, the documentary was recorded in English, and subtitles were in English wherever required. The narration is in simple English language for convenience and better understanding to the viewers. 

The music sets the tone of the documentary. It very beautifully complements the documentary and adds a dramatic effect to it. The background score aligns well with the emotions of the guest speakers and helps in conveying the message to the inspiring and influencing viewers. The change in the background score according to the upcoming topic prepares the viewer for the coming discussion.

Backend Research

Infotainment products require a lot of research. A documentary on one of the fastest-growing economies in the world is bound to have massive backend research. The documentary tries its best to enlighten the people about the past, present, and future of Singapore. The innovation and technology shown in the documentary are surprising and way ahead of their time. The backend research acts as the spine and is one of the main factors behind the success of the episode. 

Singapore passionately work towards creating a sustainable society _© City of the Future: Singapore – Full Episode | National Geographic – YouTube

The documentary is highly informative and inspiring. It will give you the feel and look of the world in years to come. It will make you pause, sit back, recollect and rethink. It will make you question your input in society. The best takeaway that a designer can have is the feeling of working for the betterment of society while not giving up. 

I once read somewhere that Singapore doesn’t require planners as it’s already well planned, but that’s not true. And this documentary answers why it is not True. Those who question the need for designers should certainly watch it. How much we evolve but, the constant global need for THINKERS and INNOVATORS will never DIE.

The documentary shows the importance of empowering the citizens to live, work and learn to create a vibrant, safe, and sustainable environment. While watching, do not compare your country with Singapore. Every country has its highs and lows, but how they tackle it is what matters.


  1. National Geographic. (2018). City of the Future: Singapore – Full Episode | National Geographic. [Youtube vedio]. Available at: [Accessed: 7/ 09/ 2021].
  2. U.S. News Staff (2021). Top 10 Countries for Technological Expertise, Ranked by Perception.[Last updated May 18, 2021]. Available at: Top 10 Countries for Technological Expertise, Ranked by Perception | Best Countries | US News.[Accessed: 9/ 09/ 2021].

Ashruti Singh is an Architect based in Lucknow with a passion for reading, writing, and research. She loves exploring and reading about Interactive urban design and Sustainable alternative materials. She is strong-headed and soft-hearted, who believes in expressing emotions through her work.