Studio Milou gets go ahead for gallery

Studio Milou gets go ahead for gallery


French firm and localpartner, CPG, wins contract to design new $320-million National Art Gallery


Thursday • May 29, 2008


Christopher Toh



IT LOOKS like the future home of art here will get a French flair, after all.


After months of speculation, Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica), announced at a signing ceremony yesterday that French company Studio Milou Architecture and its Singapore partner CPG Consultants, have been commissioned as architects for the proposed National Art Gallery — which will be housed at the former City Hall and Supreme Court after a $320-million makeover.


According to the Minister, Studio Milou was chosen for its track record, innovative and aesthetic design, as well as having its cost estimates “within the budget of $320 million”.


While Dr Lee declined to give the exact costing, he did say that the budget was only for construction purposes and not the acquisition of art works.


Studio Milou has undertaken museum works previously — though mostly in France — including the National Museum of Automobiles in Mulhouse and the Bougon Burial Mounds Museum, an archaeological site museum.


CPG Consultants has a long history of designing and converting iconic structures such as the Singapore Art Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum and the Arts House.


Mr Jean Francios Milou, the 54-year-old architect who started his company, was delighted with the news: “I was pleasantly surprised when we were selected among the top five choices last year. I think only now, it’s beginning to hit me. Of course, I’m very happy and it’s the kind of project that we are capable of doing — it’s exactly what we wanted.


“The most difficult challenge is to keep the feel of the current buildings. I don’t think there will be any technical difficulties, because we are using existing structures and integrating them, but enhancing the aesthetics would be achallenge.”


Rear-Admiral Lui Tuck Yew, Mica’s Senior Minister of State and new chairman of the National Art Gallery’s Steering Committee, :added: “This gallery will be for the visual arts what the Esplanade is for the performing arts.”


With construction tenders scheduled for late next year and 2010, the art gallery is expected to be completed by 2013 instead of 2012, as previously announced.


“What we did not want to do was to tender for this project when the construction sector is so hot at this point in time,” explained Radm Lui.


“So, we decided to push that back to the end of next year, when most of the major projects like the integrated resorts and Marina Bay Financial Centre would have crested hopefully and we can get a better price for the work we have to do.”


And no, the new gallery will not “swallow up” the Singapore Art Museum (SAM), the current bastion of art here.


“The SAM will play a major role in the development of the National Art Gallery,” said Radm Lui, adding that the SAM will help with the curatorial content. “And we have plans for SAM — but we are not ready to reveal them at this point.”


Will the National Art Gallery stand up to other iconic art museums and galleries around the world, like New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum or London’s Tate Modern?


“You cannot compare this to buildings like, say, the Tate,” said Mr Milou.


“That was a sugar-cane factory that was converted into a museum. This is a major institutional building in town turned into a museum for modern and contemporary art, which is something that is very specific and very rare.”


Source: Today Newspaper

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