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Keywords:

  • China;
  • creative and cultural spaces;
  • Shanghai;
  • Singapore;
  • sustainability

ABSTRACT. Shanghai and Singapore are two economically vibrant Asian cities that have recently adopted creative/cultural economy strategies. In this article I examine new spatial expressions of cultural and economic interests in the two cities: state-vaunted cultural edifices and organically evolved cultural spaces. I discuss the simultaneous precariousness and sustainability of these spaces, focusing on Shanghai's Grand Theatre and Moganshan Lu and on Singapore's Esplanade—Theatres by the Bay and Wessex Estate. Their cultural sustainability is understood as their ability to support the development of indigenous content and local idioms in artistic work. Their social sustainability is examined in terms of the social inclusion and community bonds they engender; environmental sustainability refers to the articulation with the language of existing urban forms and the preservation of or improvements to the landscape. Although both Shanghai and Singapore demonstrate simultaneous precariousness and sustainability, Singapore's city-state status places greater pressure on it to ensure sustainability than does Shanghai, within a much larger China in which Beijing serves as the cultural hearth while Shanghai remains essentially a commercial center.