“I’m doing more for the country’s image overseas than our tourist promotion board,” says the photographer Nguan. “I’m a better liar than they are.”

Singapore looks like a pastel-tinted dreamscape of brutalism and loneliness, with an occasional flower or rainbow mixed in, through the lens of Nguan.

Born and raised in the city-state of 5.4 million people, Nguan captures his birthplace like no one else. “I was looking for an original way to present the city,” he tells CityLab. “I decided on a look that made every setting appear like a painted theatrical set.”

Like Cheuk-ning Chung’s portrayal of life in Hong Kong’s estates, Nguan is drawn to concrete towers and lonely strangers. “I like the monolithic, cold, brutalist structures the best,” he says. “I can romanticize them; they give me more to do.” As dark as that sounds, his use of color provides an odd sense of comfort in each frame. Once you start scrolling through his Instagram it’s hard to stop. And he knows it.

“I’m doing more for the country’s image overseas than our tourist promotion board,” says Nguan. “I’m a better liar than they are.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A vehicle goes by the scene of Sunday's fatality where a pedestrian was stuck by an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode, in Tempe, Arizona.

    Fatal Uber Crash Raises Red Flags About Self-Driving Safety

    After a woman in Tempe was killed by a self-driving Uber, local law enforcement was quick to absolve the company of blame. Transportation experts aren’t so sure.

  2. Transportation

    The First Pedestrian Has Been Killed by a Self-Driving Car. Now What?

    In Tempe, Arizona, an autonomous Uber struck and killed a woman crossing a street at night. The incident is likely to test the public’s tolerance of AVs on real-world roads.

  3. A woman at a homeless encampment in Anaheim, California

    The Unhappy States of America

    Even with the economy humming, Americans are feeling more anxious, depressed, and dissatisfied with their lives than they did in 2009.

  4. A young refugee from Kosovo stands in front of a map of Hungary with her teacher.

    Who Maps the World?

    Too often, men. And money. But a team of OpenStreetMap users is working to draw new cartographic lines, making maps that more accurately—and equitably—reflect our space.

  5. Design

    The Seductive Power of a Suburban Utopia

    Serenbe, an intentional community outside Atlanta, promises urban pleasures without the messiness of city life.