Singapore-based architect, academic and host of Channel NewsAsia TV series City Time Traveller Jason Pomeroy talks about his travel adventures and the next big thing in local design.

Tell us about some funny/meaningful experiences from filming your series.

I think the whole period of filming has been a meaningful experience. It isn’t every day that you get to explore 12 cities in 6 countries in a 3-month period! It’s like cramming years of architectural education and research over a long weekend! I’ve had the privilege of travelling the world extensively, but the more you travel, the more you realize how little you actually know, which is an amazingly humbling experience. I’ve watched the Hindu rituals on the river Ganges in Varanasi, I’ve participated in the ancient tea ceremony in Kyoto, I’ve stood at the pinnacle of the Birds Nest in Beijing and observed the skyline, I’ve climbed the ancient ruins of Wat Chai Wattanaram in Ayutthaya, and paid respect to the altar of Emperor Khai Dinh in his "palace of death" in Hue. All have left their indelible mark on me.

Which are your favorite places in the world to visit for their architecture?

My top 2 would have to be London and Venice. London s where I was born, raised and previously worked. It’s the perfect blend of ancient, historic architecture and contemporary architecture. I love the Roman ruins in the old city; Christopher Wren’s Baroque masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral; and modern interventions, such as Renzo Piano’s tallest mixed use building in Europe, the Shard. The street and market culture is also captivating, and the structures that retain them, such as Borough Market. As the poet Ben Jonson said, "if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life."

Venice is one of the places where I lecture every summer in an urban design workshop at the University of Venice. Every little alleyway and canal explored reveals something more about this historic city that was an epicenter for trade, commerce and culture for centuries under the Ducal rulers of this magnificent city. Arabian, Asian and European traders of the past have been replaced by tourists today, but the vestiges of its former glory are preserved as an urban museum of nostalgia which I constantly enjoy wandering around.

What issues are closest to your heart when it comes to Singapore?

I’m conscious of the increasingly high-density nature of Singapore, and therefore constantly strive for a "spatial sustainability" in addition to "social sustainability". After all, how can we foster a sense of community and neighbourhood when there is not the space to do so? You can’t talk about society without talking about the space in which society can meet and greet, interact and hang out. Spatial sustainability is all about the replenishment of space for society’s interaction, in a world where space is constantly being depleted as quickly as our natural resources. So I think the skycourt and skygarden are important alternative social spaces that should be developed to help replenish the loss of space.

What changes do you hope to see in Singapore soon?

A greater realization that creativity in design isn’t about surface treatment but should go to the core of a society’s culture and climate. One thing my travels and research has shown me is that there is almost a Darwinian process of evolution entrenched in design. Just as Charles Darwin spoke of a theory of evolution through the survival of the fittest, so too is there a process of survival for the strongest design ideas, that are often rooted in solid cultural and climatic principles. Superfluous detail and design treatments will not survive and will be forgotten, but the cultural traditions and events of people that have been developed and reinforced over time, and a place’s climatic conditions will always provide the bedrock to solid design solutions that will continue to evolve and strengthen.

City Time Traveller is on Channel NewsAsia every Saturday at 9:30pm through April; episodes can also be streamed from the CNA site. More on Jason Pomeroy's work can be found on his website.


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Filth: The Wolf of Wall Street on drugs

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Like The Wolf of Wall Street, Filth (based on the Irvine Welsh book) features a boyish leading man in a spectacular performance as a drug-enhanced (and later -addled) Machiavelli. Vial after vial of cocaine goes up high-functioning cop Bruce Robertson's (James McAvoy in, to use a magazine cliche, the performance of his career) nose as he manipulates, bullies, womanizes and pranks his way through life just because he can, or so it seems.

Opening Date: 
Thu, 2014-03-06
Running Time: 
1 hr. 37 min.
Clara Lim

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman: #IAMSORRY we watched this

Editor's Rating: 
Average: 1.5 (1 vote)

Charlie Countryman (Shia LaBeouf) sees dead people. Or rather, he sees plot devices. Two encounters with the other side push him, respectively, to Bucharest and into the arms of cello-playing, self-aware manic pixie dream girl Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood). Along the way, he meets and gets into trouble with a pair of holidaying losers (James Buckley and Rupert Grint), whose only purpose seem to be to deliver our protagonist into the hands of violent Eastern European mob types, one of which just so happens to be Gabi's husband, Nigel (Mads Mikkelsen).

Opening Date: 
Thu, 2014-03-06
Running Time: 
1 hr. 43 min.
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
Clara Lim

Celebrate World Gourmet Summit with a bit of liquid gastronomy.

Chilli Crab Cocktail

This Chinatown pop-up takes inspiration from one of our national dishes with this mix of gin, Malibu, kaffir lime, lemongrass and chilli
crab paste.
$22 from Mars Bar

Dashi & Umami

Trust the Bar Stories folks to come
up with alcoholic miso soup—a tequila-spiked mix of dashi stock and shiro miso. Available through March 9.
$24 from Bar Stories

Jolly Green Giant

Pretty sure this sweet, gin-spiked pea puree counts towards our daily veggie intake. We’ll take five, please.
$18 from Tippling Club

Modena Stout

A fairly tame, typical framboise and cognac mix turns all Tiger Mom-crazy with Chinese black vinegar stock.
$20 from Ding Dong


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Brit Wit
Monty Python and Fawlty Towers legend John Cleese is coming to town on May 4 for a super special performance, just before the hugely anticipated Monty Python reunion in London in July. If you’re a BBC TV addict, Harry Potter fan, or person with a functioning sense of humor, stay tuned at for updates and to snap up tickets. Also riding the Brit wave are TNT Theatre Britain's Romeo & Juliet (Apr 9-11) and Yes, Prime Minister (May 8-18), both at Raffles Hotel's Jubilee Hall.

Move Over, Art Stage
We’ve just heard that Beirut Art Fair will make its debut in Singapore this year. Yes, there are already heaps of art shows on the calendar, but this one—simply called Singapore Art Fair—departs from the norm by bringing art from the Middle East, North Africa and A    sia to our shores. From the sneak peek at the 100-gallery-strong art showcase, we already see lots of controversial subjects. Exciting stuff.

March On
Just as we’d wiped out our piggybanks buying tickets to Mosaic, Sing Jazz and Culture Clash festivals, we found out about French pop-rock poster boy -M-, alias Matthieu Chedid and Brit post-punk band White Lies.


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There really is an app for everything these days. But just how much better are they making our lives?

It wasn’t so long ago that we could perform basic functions without the help of our mobile devices (we recall being pretty damn pleased with just the one app, Snake). Now, with a better body and a more organized and fulfilled life only a few app purchases away, it seems rude not to let them run our lives. But not all are what they (and rave reviewers) claim to be, so, to save you precious time and bandwidth, we’ve sorted the hot from the not. All apps are free (just like I-S!) unless otherwise stated.

Getting Stuff Done

Self Control

What it does: This desktop app for Mac (try SelfRestraint, Freedom or Anti-Social for Windows) blocks distracting websites of your choice for the period of time you need.

They say: “Whenever I get frustrated by work, I go to Facebook/Reddit out of habit. No more! It’s really saved my sanity, and hours of my time!” says REMitchell on

We say: We blocked our social media and online shopping sites and knuckled down for a steady two hours of work. Half an hour in, the urge to look at nail art and read public transport complaints became unbearable, so we changed the time on our computer settings to end the lockdown. Not our proudest moment.

The verdict:
If you’re constantly distracted, you may just be bored with your job—we suggest you download the Quit Your Job app instead.

Available for Mac.


What it does: This mobile inbox app lets you sort emails in a supposedly more intuitive way than usual. Other than archiving and deleting, you can also save an email for later (you choose when you want to see it in your inbox again) or add it to one of your to-do lists.

They say: “Easy to use, simplistic and absolutely organized! Best app ever,” raves TDiaz5 on the iTunes store.

We say: Unfortunately, it’s only available for Gmail and iCloud, so we couldn’t use it to confront the hellscape that is our work inbox. We went through our relatively well-maintained Gmail, but it wasn’t a picnic either. Do we want to “archive” or “trash” those emails from our exes? Is it better to “trash” this flash sale flyer or add to our to-buy list?

The verdict: √√
Until we get used to these new categories, Mailbox just feels like one more thing (argh) to deal with.

Available for iPhone and iPad.


What it does: This notebook replacement syncs your notes, lists and photos across devices, so you can basically text all those important thoughts to your future self.

They say: “Fantastic. I use this all the time for everything including work and personal. Thank you Evernote,” says Andrew Bettcher on the Google Play store.

We say: We ditched the usual paper goods and got tapping on our phones, but after about a week of use we never accessed our notes on it ever again. We found that it’s really hard to beat crossing items off lists and tearing up Post-It notes. Also, if we learned one thing from Moleskine’s branding campaign, it’s that typing on a phone is way less sexy than writing in an overpriced notebook.

The verdict: √√√
Use sparingly so that your sex appeal doesn’t take a hit.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Task Amigo

What it does: Similar to successful US-based TaskRabbit, this online platform lets users outsource jobs and chores.

They say: “TaskAmigo helps me find jobs quickly and easily. The best part is that I get to choose how much I expect to be paid,” says Tan Siew Hui on

We say: Our request for a croissant and coffee delivery didn’t gain much traction, probably since the database isn’t big or active enough yet. Oh well. They probably would have messed up our order anyway.

The verdict: Zero ticks.
Suck it up and do it yourself—at least for now.

Making Decisions


What it does: You can post questions onto this app’s social media-style platform to crowdsource your life’s path to a bunch of complete strangers.

They say: “I honestly love this app!!!! I’m surprised there are not more reviews!!!” enthuses That Gal on the iTunes app store.

We say: Eight out of ten times, we found ourselves ignoring the results, unless it was secretly what wanted to hear all along.

The verdict: Zero ticks.
Take some damn responsibility for your own decisions for once.

Available for iPhone and iPad.


What it does: This pared-down finance tracking app lets you key in your daily expenses in various categories. The idea is that seeing how much you’re spending will scare you straight.

They say: “It’s simple to use and all I need to record expenses. Really helpful,” says jgmh30 on the iTunes app store.

We say: There is no pie chart graphic cute enough to make our results palatable. Do we really spend that much on transport?! All those Uber rides must have added up…

The verdict: √√√√
Good for you and your wallet.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Keeping Healthy


What it does: Key in your
symptoms and you’ll get a fun list of possible medical conditions, ranked by possibility. It’s not meant to be a substitute for a doctor (there’s a pop-up disclaimer saying so).

They say: “Very helpful,” says LiwRad on the iTunes app store.

We say: According to the Symptom Checker, our coughs and body aches may be signs of all kinds of exotic illnesses, like west nile virus or histoplasmosis (amusingly enough, it also says we might be suffering from “exercise or physical activity”), although the most likely culprit was the common cold. But we couldn’t resist reading about all the horrifying things that could be going on. We went to the doctor to verify the results, but he skipped the verbal diagnosis and went straight to, “you need an MC for today?”

The verdict:
Ditch it. It’ll only make you paranoid about every cough, itch and lump.
Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

My Fitness Pal

What it does: This calorie-counting app enables you to set a daily calorie goal and record your daily food intake and exercise. They have a huge database of food items and exercises so it’s really convenient.

They say: “MyFitnessPal has made a tremendous difference in my life!” says Nicole Schroeder on “With MyFitnessPal’s help, I’ve lost 75 lbs and I’m still going! I feel like a whole new woman!”

We say: Food usually just gets inhaled without much thought around the I-S office. This much is obvious from the collective shudders as we recorded everything on this app and faced the numbers. We like that the app is completely free, whereas a visit to the dietician can chalk up quite a hefty bill, although a professional will put you on a diet with enough essential nutrients (which are all too easy to miss out on when you’re counting calories).

The verdict: √√√
It’s definitely a handy tool if you want to monitor your intake, but it’s ultimately dangerous to obsess over calories.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Water Your Body

What it does: We never thought we’d see an app addressing such a basic need. It tells you how much water you need daily, records how much you’re drinking and reminds you to drink up throughout the day.

They say: “I’m in love with this,” says Deathnoteilove on the Google Play store.

We say: Perhaps the hardest thing about this app is making the conscious effort to log on and tap the screen each time you finish a glass/bottle of water. You know you’d be in much better shape if you drank water as often as you checked your phone—and this app actually makes that happen.

The verdict: √√√√√
Drink it in.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android at $1.28

Sleep As Android

What it does: Like Sleep Cycle for iPhone, it’s basically a high-tech alarm clock. You set an alarm period (a range instead of the usual fixed time), pick your favorite tune, and the app will wake you up during an optimum part of your sleep cycle in that duration.

They say: “I’m never late for work now. You guys deserve the Nobel prize,” says Galib Fida on the Google Play store.

We say: At first, we were quite amazed at the fancy graph detailing our sleep history that includes statistics on our light and deep sleep cycles, sleep deficit and even snoring. But we weren’t sure what to do with this data—do we brag on Facebook (yes, there’s a social media sharing feature) about how deeply we slept last night? Bells and whistles aside, the alarm clock function is solid and woke us up with minimum grumpiness. The app also has a helpful (terrible) CAPTCHA “snooze button” option where you have to solve a math puzzle if you really want your extra five minutes in bed.

The verdict:  √√√√√
We’ve never been this on time for work. Go for it, lazybones.

Available for Android.

Getting Around


What it does: This transport app predicts how long you’ll need to wait for the next bus.

They say: “Still my favorite. Been using this from day one,” says Avin Tan on the Google Play store.

We say: It’s true that you can end up checking arrival times more often than necessary, and it can get aggravating when the wait is longer than the app says. But we still think it beats waiting for that bus that’s only arriving in 30 minutes (what is up with the buses here!?).

The verdict: √√√
Well, it gives you something to do while waiting, but obsessive-compulsive types may want to stay away.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

What it does: You just enter your point of embarkation and desired destination, then the app works out several ways to get there, including MRT, bus, taxi or car, complete with fare projections.

They say: “Excellent app,” says brigsym on the iTunes app store. “Would be a tough life without it!!”

We say: We’re with brigsym. In fact, we’ve grown so dependent on this app that we wonder if we’re ever missing out on anything by never asking around first.

The verdict: √√√√√
Use it, but don’t forget how to read signs and talk to people.

Available for iPhone and iPad at $4.98.


What it does: This app finds you a sweet ride when a regular cab just doesn’t cut it (or show up). Don’t expect stretch limos, but the regular Ubers and newly-added UberSedans and UberXLs are comfy and polished.

They say: “Perfection! Super convenient!” says Schmaltz9 (for real) on the iTunes app store.

We say: It’s easy to go overboard with this one—the rates ($7 to start with, then $0.85/minute) look reasonable but often shoot up to what seems like twice the price of a regular taxi. It also seems like there are fewer free cars around us lately, so it doesn’t help much with saving time.

The verdict: √√√√
Have it on hand for rainy days and Friday nights.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.



What it does: Browse lists of places to stay, see, do and eat around the world; all ranked according to user ratings.

They say: “Excellent handy tool in my iPhone,” says Parvathamrsk on the iTunes app store.

We say: The lack of curation and smart filtering options here means it’s a complete info dump, and results are sometimes counterintuitive—Paintball Saigon is apparently the number one attraction in Ho Chi Minh City, for example. And don’t bother reading the reviews, which are usually something along the lines of “Had a great time! The girls were really friendly!”

The verdict: Zero ticks.
We’ll stick to guidebooks and magazines.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.


What it does: Find homes to stay at, in just about every city of the world, with this well-designed app. There are also uncensored reviews from other travelers, so you also get a real sense of what to expect from each house/host.

They say: “I would give 7 stars if I could!” says Yk on

We say: Believe the hype. We’ve found some pretty amazing stuff on here, including a gorgeous cave(!) home overlooking the Aegean sea in Santorini, and a massive, fully furnished attic room the size of an apartment, complete with hammocks and stereo system, in Salzburg. (Despite our fears, the hosts turned out to be very nice and clearly did not murder us.) Both were under $100 per person per night, which was a steal, but you can also easily find prices dipping below the $50 mark—you can’t get a decent hotel for that price in most cities.

The verdict: √√√√√
Book your leave days and download it, quick.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.


What it does: This clever app turns language learning into a game through quizzes, progress charts and earn-as-you-go badges.

They say: “I’ve tried a few language learning apps, including some with subscription charges, and this far surpasses any of them. Can’t recommend enough!”  says Alice White on the Google Play store.

We say: Compared to the bone-dry language courses we’ve taken (or rather, always found excuses to skip), it’s really quite addictive for something so educational. On the other hand, learning makes playing on the phone a little too legitimate, and soon we found ourselves ignoring our actual work.

The verdict: √√√√
Download it if you need to pick up the basics quickly for a trip, but be careful: it’s addictive.

Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

Now is the Time

If you're a cool cat who wants to be in the know about fresh events, restaurants, lifestyle news and the like, our all-new city living guide is the one iPhone app that will revolutionize your social life (we swear it).

Download it now for free from the App Store.


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