A Singaporean concept artist reimagines his country as a captivating yet spine-chilling underwater metropolis

Lee’s “Singapore 2030” series depicts life in the country after a cataclysmic flood.
Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

With global warming accelerating the melting of Arctic ice caps, leading to the dire consequence of rising sea levels that threaten the survival of low-lying countries, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine future generations living and finding solace beneath the waves.

While the prospect of a sub-aquatic existence doesn’t seem close to materialising anytime soon, that has not stopped one Singaporean from imagining what life in his island nation would look like in the aftermath of a cataclysmic flood.

Earlier this week, concept artist Sean Lee Siu Lun posted a series of photobash paintings on Facebook depicting scenes of an alternate reality Singapore, a city that has adapted to undersea life à la fictional underwater metropolis Rapture from the Bioshock first-person shooter video game series.

Photobashing is a technique used to create realistic concept art and illustrations in a fast and complete manner, according to online education company Pluralsight.

Lee thinks such a reality may not be too far off into the future, titling his mesmerising yet haunting art series “Singapore 2030” – and that 12-year deadline certainly sounds spine-chilling.

Quoting a famous line from Bioshock in the caption, Lee asks: “Would you kindly have a look?”

Aquaphobic readers be warned.


Vibrant aqua-communities

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

“Hands-off approach by the government on the HDB (Housing Development Board) buildings still above the ocean level has led to private businessmen supplying water and power to these apartments,” wrote Lee.

Due to capitalism, vibrant communities form “kelongs” (offshore wooden platforms and buildings) along the rims of the HDB apartment blocks. Apparently to him, these places have become ideal for barbecued seafood.

The city’s buses have also been modified to become makeshift ferries that cruise down the waterways.

Having a whale of a time in the bio-domes

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

In order to maintain infrastructural integrity, wealthy land owners have resorted to “waterproofing” their private property, resulting in the creation of bio-domes and living spaces for the population.

Here, a sperm whale greets shoppers and office workers walking across the Orchard Gateway glass bridge that connects the Orchard Central and 313@Somerset shopping malls.

Lee didn’t mention anything about “whale-proofing” in the photo description.

Submarine buses

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Submarine buses are an alternative option should riding on the surface seem unfeasible.

Interestingly, the interior of the submarine bus looks is no different from the conventional Singapore buses of the “past” before dry land and roads were engulfed by the waves.

When mobile connectivity becomes a problem for commuters, Lee suggests putting away their smartphones and marvel at the abundant aquatic wildlife swimming around the submersible – especially during jellyfish breeding season.

Underwater apartments with harbours

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

For those who prefer to live in underwater abodes and don’t mind the schools of sharks hanging around all day outside, undersea HDB residences are available for purchase.

Integrated harbours provide convenient access to public and private transportation. Some apartment blocks may even come with their very own shopping malls like those in the Choa Chu Kang neighbourhood as Lee has shown.

These homes set the new standard for HDB living and the good news is that Singaporeans can still pay for them using their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings.

Undersea property prices are still a mystery however.

Not-so-natural waterfalls

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Did something spring a massive leak?

No, it’s just the forces of nature according to Lee.

He explained: “During high tide, the cooler saltier seawater flows into the more freshwater canals trapped during the last tide,”

The result: Instagram-worthy waterfalls.

While they are a sight to behold, do be mindful not to stray too close to these towering torrents or you’ll be literally swept away by them. Taking up residence under or near these not-so-natural waterfalls is not recommended without daily flood insurance.

Train service disruptions still a problem

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains and commuters continue to fall victim to service disruptions, be it on land or under the sea.

And underwater transportation brings its own set of challenges. Instead of the usual signalling, power and train faults that cause delays, marine life has become a new seemingly intractable problem for the nation’s transport industry.

This time, dugong migrations have led to a delay on the Circle Line and it certainly doesn’t bode well for peak hour travellers.

Luxurious undersea shopping malls

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Shopping at glamorous malls with luxury brand outlets at every corner and glass floors that reveal the seabed in all its beauty has become fashionable, especially to trendy youngsters.

Referencing a controversy about a textbook author who stereotyped Singaporeans based on high and low socio-economic status (SES), Lee described these places with tongue-in-cheek humour as “high SES hipster markets”.

Budget-friendly “wet” markets

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Budget-conscious shoppers would be glad to know that they can buy their daily necessities from conventional “low SES” markets without having to subject themselves to the eye-watering prices of luxury shopping mall products.

Transparent ceilings allow for natural light to seep through and brighten up the complex while giving shoppers breathtaking views of the sea above.

With the hulls of vessels passing by like slow moving aircraft constantly in sight, visitors and customers would be comforted by the fact that they are never too far away from the surface.

Lee’s Facebook post also includes before-and-after images that compare original base photos with his edited concept art.

Here are a few of them.

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Facebook/ Sean Lee Siu Lun

Lee’s Singapore 2030 series has garnered more than 500 reactions, 1,600 shares and 40 comments at time of writing, with many Facebook users praising him for his artistic skill.

Here’s the full Facebook post.

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