Monday, 9 April 2012

March 2012: Open Urbanism, Yangtze Scribbler, DTL Numbering System

This blog which was previously named "Techno Power Hobby Time" is now being renamed "Open Urbanism", because I suppose that reflects my interest in open source as well as urban environments more accurately. (And why had it been given that name in the past? Because of some old "TECHNO POWER" button I had worn on my hoodie since the 2006 Singapore Biennale. And I don't know where it is right now....)

I guess I view technology as the (incidental) "medium", rather than it being the "work" itself. Whereas others might use technology to their advantage to seamlessly show something or some idea such that the technology becomes invisible, I realise that I do quite the opposite instead - I often try to break down the technical process into tiny little manageable bits that in the end reveal all of the magical and oft hidden process in technology. I suppose its my silly way of figuring out things.

So actually, my obsession with diy/programming has developed largely from my inability to find a collaborator who can handle the more technical portions of my work for me while I do what I think I still do best - the conceptualisation, the writing, and the mapping. Having very little math or science foundation to fall back on, these desultory meanderings into programming or electronics subsequently occupy a lot of headspace as I take time to figure things out, but still they are not to be mistaken for the crux of what I am truly interested in...

Yangtze Scribbler


Tan Pin Pin made a short film on my collection of graffiti signs in the Yangtze Stairwell (and its accidental discovery elsewhere in Bugis as well), and its now online at the Singapore Memory project showcase. (Thanks so much for bringing it to a wider audience, Pin Pin!) We saw it screened at the Singapore Memory Project roadshow in Toa Payoh (one of the oldest and most mature Housing Board estates in Singapore), where it was also screened alongside Wee Li Lin's Singapore Cowboy. The titular character himself, Matthew from Matthew and the Mandarins came down to perform his golden hit. "Singapore Cowboy, where do i belong......."

I was seated next to a 79 year old nurse who suddenly started talking to me half way through the preamble of a moderately long speech made by the MP for Toa Payoh/Minister of Defence. "I don't like Matthew Tan," she frowned, "No, I never really liked Matthew Tan." "But... you've come to see his performance...?" I asked. She then said, "Well, I don't like Matthew Tan, but my husband did. He listened to it so much, he even bought the CD. He would have been 85 now... He died 9 years ago...."

Later, she said she had been living in Toa Payoh for 39 years, when it was mostly still a swamp, and she had to take a pirate taxi to work at the hospital each day (she also went up on stage where they gave out movie tickets to the various denizens of Toa Payoh who would recount their tales). She asked me to come down to her church's Easter festival. She pointed at my hair, "You don't have to tell me your name, I can remember how you look like!"

"Crack Monitors" and the DTL3 numbering system


A common sight here is this C9XX number that is commonly seen on pavements, old shophouses, walls, and small electrical boxes that have been popping up everywhere. A friend mentioned seeing these "crack monitors" in my area near the Downtown Line construction, something quite similar to this photo i took back in November. The prefix in the stick always has something saying "C9XX".




Some years back I had already realised that these numbers which appear everywhere, especially on the old buildings, are actually for measuring the cracks growing in the old buildings around the Downtown Line construction sites. When I was working in my old job around South Bridge Road back in 2009, we would walk from our office to the main office at Robinson Road in order to pick up a brief, and we'd pass through the Telok Ayer area with the numerous old shophouses next to the green-fenced construction site. The fivefooways were festooned with these mystical numbers and stickers with barcodes and plastic markers over the cracks. One day after having casually observed them for a number of weeks and gaily reading them out to my colleague while walking past them, I suddenly had the epiphany that the numbers switched from C908 to C909 when I crossed "Cross Street". Dashing from shophouse to shophouse on both sides of the street, I realised that the numbers plotted out an area that was delineated by Cross Street, and that the numbers weren't just random C numbers, but that they actually reflected the zone or station that they were "zoned" under. It turned out that C908 was the project number for the soon-to-be-constructed Cross Street Station, and C909 was the project number for Chinatown Station.




Since then I have collected countless sets of C9-- numbers. I suppose this one is the most straightforward system I have figured out so far.


Here is a spreadsheet I've made so far on the number system used for the DTL3 Contracts. These are the newest ones to be built, fully underground, with target completion in 2017. When I have more time I will compile a list for DTL2/DTL1 stations as well. All data was found by scouring LTA press releases and other publicly available press announcements on whom they awarded contracts to. In the end I also happened to collate data on the amount being spent on the various stations, so I have included it in as well:

No. DTL Number Name Detail To be constructed by Contract Value
1 DTL3 C922 Expo Interchange (Circle Line) Samsung C&T Corporation US$171.5M
2 DTL3 C923 Upper Changi
Samsung C&T Corporation S$256.98 million
3 DTL3 C923A Tunnel Tunnels Between Tampines East and Upper Changi Stations Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co. Ltd S$91.13 million
4 DTL3 C925 Tampines East
GS Engineering & Construction Corp. US$174M
5 DTL3 C925A Tampines Interchange (East West Line) KTC Civil Engineering & Construction Pte Ltd US$98.7M
6 DTL3 C926 Tampines West
Cooperativa Muratori & Cementisti – C.M.C di Ravenna US$185M
7 DTL3 C927 Bedok Reservoir
Cooperativa Muratori & Cementisti – C.M.C di Ravenna US$160.3M
8 DTL3 C928 Bedok Town Park
Sato Kogyo (S) Pte Ltd S$268.68M
9 DTL3 C929 Kaki Bukit
China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited US$76M
10 DTL3 C929A Tunnel Tunnels Between Ubi and Kaki Bukit Stations Nishimatsu Construction Co. Ltd S$211.7M
11 DTL3 C930 Ubi
SK Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd S$161.71M
12 DTL3 C931 MacPherson Interchange (Circle Line) Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd S$188 million
13 DTL3 C932 Mattar
Sato Kogyo (S) Pte Ltd S$199.85M
14 DTL3 C932A Kallang Bahru
China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited US$99M
15 DTL3 C933 Bendemeer
Penta-Ocean Construction Co., Ltd S$215.24 million
16 DTL3 C935 Sungei Road (Jalan Besar)
Leighton Offshore Pte Ltd/John Holland Pty Ltd (Singapore Branch) JV US$139.1M
17 DTL3 C936 Bencoolen
Sato Kogyo (S) Pte Ltd S$177.58 million
18 DTL3 C937 River Valley
GS Engineering & Construction Corp. US$212.5M

Does anyone have any clue why there is no C934 contract? And why is Kallang Bahru station given a number C932A, when all the other A numbers refer to tunnels instead?

(And for those concerned with the situation with Sungei Road Station (C935), I read on tunnelingjournal the following statement: "Under the contract, the joint venture will construct the new Sungei Road Station, a four-level station box with a platform, mezzanine, concourse and linkway, along with comprehensive civil, structural, architectural, plumbing, drainage, landscaping and reinstatement works... Twin tunnels approximately 770m in length between Sungei Road Station and Bencoolen Station will be constructed...")

DIY Renovations

Recently I have been crazy about diy work again. I installed two layers of curtains and reupholstered a chair on my own. One day I would like to build my own house from scratch. I would really love to understand every single part of urban construction from the ground up, because I am strange like that. Here are some notes (mostly for my own record) on my recent DIY efforts:

1. Drilling into brick/masonry

It really makes a difference if you buy a brand new masonry drill bit. If you are having problems drilling into a brick wall and it simply won't give, don't despair and don't panic, just go out and buy a new masonry drill bit and see if this helps. This should be the shiny metal one. After some despairing and calling up people to ask if I should be taking half an hour to drill one hole, I found out that a new drill bit will work significantly better than using any old one (obviously). Also, the black ones are for wood and should not be confused for use with bricks/concrete/masonry, and remember to turn on HAMMERMODE on your drill.

2. Building an IKEA Expedit bookcase on your own within in one hour

Yes! I built this within one hour on my own, the one-man team of DBBD. If you google, you might read horror stories online about groups of people taking hours to construct this and having an awful time. The key to building this as fast as you can is actually to hammer all the wooden pegs in until the sound of your hammering changes - this will be when the wooden pegs have been hammered in as deep as they will go. If they aren't hammered in properly on each step of the way, it will be hard to continue adding on new boards. The rest of the construction is otherwise straightforward, but it will probably require at least three small people to lift this up when you're done, as its pretty damn heavy.

3. Reupholstering a chair

It was easier than I expected. I bought cloth, foam sheets, and staple-gunned everything together within about 2-3 hours, including disassembly and reassembly of chair. On hindsight I would say: Pick a sturdier material like canvas (and not cotton as I have done, silly me). And everything really needs to be pulled tight or else you get a lumpy chair. Lumpy cotton cloud chair...


  1. Hi Debbie,
    Just came across your post on DTL3 numbering. I'd like to bring up that Tampines Central station is also give the suffix "A" as it is contract 925A. These tend to be for, though not restricted to, construction of the stations only. I guess it is a sub-set of sorts?

    Very clever of you to figure out the meaning of C909 and C908 as well. =)

    If you like more info, you can always join as at if you haven't already. Cheers.

  2. Hello!
    Thanks for the tip and the link to the forum. Are you also a hobbyist or do you work in something related to this?

    ...and WOW I love the forum! I have seen various skyscrapercity forums on occasion but I didn't see this particular board on the transportation of Singapore specifically. I will certainly check that more often!

  3. You're welcome. My uncle is a civil engineer (Rail) so I guess that is how I got interested in the construction aspect of it? I don't work in the industry myself.

    Glad you like it. Do hope you can join us in the discussions for the various projects around. I guess it is one of the boards that has a wide range of discussions including public transportation in Singapore.