Singapore Architecture, New Buildings Projects, Designs, Property Pictures
Key Contemporary Architectural Developments in South East Asia
Singapore, Finding an Architectural Identity
Article by Tom Ravenscroft, 28 Sep 2009
Photos by Tom Ravenscroft for e-architect
Singapore is a small country whose development has been heavily influenced by dominant Asian cultures – Malay, Indian and Chinese – along with the European Colonial powers. This fusion of cultures has created an East-meets-West melting pot, which is reflected stylistically in the range and depth of architecture represented within the City.
Old Parliament House
With a population drawn from many ethnic origins, and host to a wide range of spoken languages, Singapore has struggled to find, and define, its identity since gaining independence in 1965. Architecture has been used as an important tool in the development of a national identity, and since 1990 the government has actively aimed to develop high-quality landmark buildings. Along with many other Asian cities, Singapore has tried to distinguish itself and increase people’s awareness of the city through its architecture. City officials knew this could be achieved by creating an iconic landmark building, an Eiffel Tower or a Sydney Opera House, which would become synonymous with the city’s prosperity.
Overseas Union Bank Centre by Kenzo Tange
Over recent years several visually interesting, “worlds tallest”, skyscrapers have been constructed with this aim. Across Asia, in Kuala Lumpur (Petronas Towers), Taipei (Taipei 101) and most recently Dubai (Burj Dubai), towers have risen that have focused the world’s attention on the host city. Singapore, itself, is home to over 30 skyscrapers and has a rich history of high-rise construction. On its completion in 1986 the 280-meter Overseas Union Bank Centre [photo above] became the tallest building outside of North America. In 1992 and 1995, respectively, the 280-meter high United Overseas Bank Plaza One and Republic Plaza were also constructed. These three buildings are now jointly the tallest in Singapore, however they are only ranked as the 71st highest structures in the world. While other cities have built higher and higher, Singapore’ efforts have been restricted due to a height restriction imposed by the downtown’s proximity to the airport.
Supreme Law Court of Singapore by Foster + Partners
The fact that Singapore is unable to build an extremely high skyscraper may have contributed to the government’s drive to construct high-quality municipal buildings. The National Library of Singapore, Supreme Law Court of Singapore [above] and most recently Esplanade Theatre [below] are all examples of the excellent modern architecture that Singapore has produced. Each one of these buildings is a striking and successful addition to the city; however, none has become the iconic symbol of Singapore.
Esplanade Theatre by Michael Wilford & Partners
Although a “Petronas Towers” is yet to been constructed, Singapore has succeeded in doing something that Kuala Lumpur has not; it has created a rich and interesting, high quality architectural landscape that demonstrates the prosperity and cultural depth of the city.
Singapore Buildings Photos © Tom Ravenscroft
Another page in this series:
Kuala Lumpur Architecture Photographs by Tom Ravenscroft
Contemporary Singapore Architectural Projects
Singapore Architecture Designs – chronological list
Marina Bay Sands – Hotel & Casino
Moshe Safdie and Associates with Aedas Architects
Marina Bay Sands
The Interlace Singapore Residential Development
Ole Scheeren of OMA
The Interlace Singapore Complex
School of the Arts, Singapore – World’s Best Learning Building
School of the Arts Singapore
Comments / photos for the Singapore Architecture page welcome