Are we looking at buildings only as money-spinners?

Are we looking at buildings only as money-spinners?


I READ “It’s the end of the Storey” (June 27) with disbelief.


How serious are we as a nation about preserving what little is left of our heritage? What, exactly, are these “engineering constraints” that make it impossible to construct the Downtown Line without demolishing the New 7th Storey Hotel? Since the Bugis station already exists, would it be fair to say that they will just be doing works underground? And if so, can they not tunnel around the building, rather than just directly below it?


After the recent demolition of the much-loved National Library (and going back even further, other historical landmarks such as the National Theatre, the Van Cleef Aquarium, the old Esplanade — Elizabeth Walk — and Satay Club), have we not learned our lesson? We can’t turn back the clock and save these buildings — some would say, monuments — but going forward, we can try our best to preserve those that are still with us.


I feel that we are still not doing enough in this area and tend to look at buildings purely from an economic standpoint — hence, you get the Raffles Hotel, Chijmes and the Singapore Art Museum. These structures are money-spinners and to the authorities, the New 7th Storey Hotel is merely an anachronism from the past, on its last legs, deserving of the wrecking ball.


It is not too late. I beseech the authorities to re-consider their decision and leave the New 7th Storey Hotel alone.


Source: Today Newspaper

Dive into office pool on the roof

Dive into office pool on the roof


When research consultant Danny Lai wants to take a dip after work, he doesn’t head to the nearest public pool or beach.


Instead Mr Lai, 38, an associate director, takes the lift from his office on the second floor up six levels and steps out directly to his company’s private lap pool.


His company, Acorn Marketing & Research Consultants, at trendy Mohd Sultan Road in the River Valley area, is one of the few offices here with a pool on the premises. Healthy lifestyle product company Osim also has one at its headquarters in Ubi.


Acorn’s pool is part of a 10-storey glass annex attached to its premises of two shophouses – and it is quite a water feature. Part of the 1.2m-deep pool has a glass bottom, so workers all the way from the second floor up can look up and see who is making a splash.


Mr Lai and some of his colleagues enjoy lounging in the 11.5m long by 3.3m wide lap pool after finishing their evening fitness runs around the area. ‘This happens usually once a fortnight,’ he says.


Colleague Ilona Loo, 28, a field manager, comes with her own group and says: ‘We come here for a late night swim after work, as public pools are usually closed by then.’


On whether they feel shy stripping to their swimsuits in front of colleagues, both shrug it off.


‘It doesn’t feel weird,’ says Ms Loo.


The pool, which looks onto the condominiums and offices at River Valley, is open to all 30 employees at Acorn. There are also shower facilities in the toilets for swimmers.


Mr Lai says clients are also invited to bring along their swimsuits and towels when they come for meetings. But no clients have taken up the offer.


‘Perhaps they worry about their bosses asking about their wet hair,’ he chuckles.


The pool costs about $200 a month to maintain. The annex it is in was built in 2005 at a cost of more than $6 million.


It’s at the back of two three-storey conservation shophouses which Acorn bought in 2004 for also more than $6 million.


Of the pool, Mr Kwan Chong Wah, 53, Acorn’s group director, says: ‘It’s something nice to have.’


The frequent flier, who travels around the region, has not had the chance to enjoy it, though.


Acorn’s new office was designed by local firms CP Lee & Partners and Strategic Design International. It previously rented office space in River Valley Road and Stevens Road.


Under conservation rules, the shophouses’ facade had to be kept, but a new annex could be built at the back. Strategic Design International’s principal architect Philip Lee, 48, chose to use lots of glass to allow in plenty of light.


On the glass-bottomed pool, he says: ‘It is a bold idea as this has not been done in an office building before.’


Source: Straits Times

A Capitol idea

A Capitol idea 


After being shut the past decade, the 79-year-old Capitol Theatre is set for a facelift.


The “grand old dame” and three surrounding buildings between North Bridge and Stamford roads will be put up for tender around December as part of the government’s land sales programme.


“The sale of the site will facilitate the restoration of the conserved buildings and add vibrancy to the area through the introduction of new entertainment, retail and hotel uses,” the Ministry of National Development said yesterday.


The theatre itself will be gazetted for conservation, along with neighbouring Capitol Building and Stamford House. However, the fourth building, Capitol Centre, can be redeveloped.


CBRE Research’s executive director Li Hiaw Ho said this could be suitable for a 600-room hotel. “:As the track for the F1 race is nearby, a hotel on the site will not only cater to the convention participants in the nearby Suntec Convention Centre, but it can also provide more choices :for :F1 fans,” he said:.


Source: Today Newspaper

Capitol site and two new growth areas up for sale

Capitol site and two new growth areas up for sale


They are among 40 sites across Singapore to be offered in second half of the year


By Joyce Teo


THE iconic Capitol Theatre, Singapore’s first cinema, and nearby century-old Stamford House finally have a chance for a new lease of life.


The Government yesterday announced that it will sell the huge 1.45ha prime site housing these historic buildings in December. Any development must include a hotel.


It is also offering developers the first sites in the new growth areas of Jurong and Kallang as part of its half-yearly release of land for sale.


Altogether, 40 sites across Singapore will be offered in the second half of this year.


The North Bridge Road plot featuring the Capitol Theatre, Capitol Building, Stamford House and Capitol Centre is one of eight confirmed sites.


That means these sites go on sale while the rest, on a reserve list, do so subject to pre-sale interest from developers.


The Ministry of National Development said in a statement yesterday: ‘The sale of the site will facilitate the restoration of the conserved buildings and add vibrancy to the area through the introduction of new entertainment, retail and hotel uses.’


The successful developer may demolish Capitol Centre but will have to keep the other three, which have all been gazetted for conservation.


The neo-classical-style Stamford House, boasting the same designer as Raffles Hotel, was built in 1904; Capitol Theatre in 1929; and Capitol Building, previously known as Shaw Building, in 1933.


As well as being Singapore’s first cinema, the Capitol Theatre featured top-line cabaret performances over the years and was even a food depot in World War II.


The four buildings currently have about 250 retail and office tenants, most of whom will move out by next May.


The site, which can accommodate 600 hotel rooms, is arguably the choicest of those on offer, but the conservation requirements could lift costs, consultants said.


‘Although this site may attract keen competition, the higher risk associated with undertaking such conservation projects may affect the tender bids,’ said Colliers International’s director of research and advisory Tay Huey Ying.


In line with recently announced plans to transform the Jurong Lake District and the Kallang Riverside, the Government is offering sites in these areas.


In Jurong East, it will release a new site in November to help kick-start the development of the commercial hub at Jurong Gateway.


A hotel site at Kallang River with a beachfront location will also be offered. Both are on the reserve list.


One unusual site is a confirmed hotel plot at Bukit Chermin Road, which comprises four black-and- white bungalows set in hilly terrain.


Property consultants highlighted the smaller number of confirmed sites, particularly residential ones.


There are 32 reserve-list sites and eight confirmed ones, compared with 26 reserve and 11 confirmed sites in the first half.


‘This system would be preferred by developers as it would give a more accurate gauge of what true demand is,’ said Jones Lang LaSalle’s managing director (South-east Asia) Chris Fossick.


Source: Straits Times

Capitol site and two new growth areas up for sale

Capitol site and two new growth areas up for sale 


THE iconic Capitol Theatre, Singapore’s first cinema, and neraby century-old Stamford House finally have a chance for a new lease of life.

The Government on Thursday announced that it will sell the huge 1.45ha prime site housing these historic building in December. Any devlopment must include a hotel.


It is also offering developers the first sites in the new growth areas of Jurong and Kallang as part of its half-yearly release of land sale.


Altogether, 40 site across Singapore will be offered in the second half of this year.


The North Bridge Road plot featuring the Capitol Theatre, Capitol Building, Stamford House and Capitol Centre, is one of the eight confirmed sites.



Source: Straits Times

Government releases eight confirmed sites for sale

Government releases eight confirmed sites for sale


SINGAPORE: Capitol Centre at Stamford Road may be demolished to make way for a new hotel to meet demand for hotel rooms. The location is one of eight confirmed sites that have been released for sale, under the Government’s Land Sales programme.


The Ministry of National Development also announced on Thursday that it will release enough land to potentially build nearly 8,000 private residential units, in the second half of the year.


Meanwhile, Capitol Building, Capitol Theatre as well as Stamford House have been gazetted for conservation. The Urban Redevelopment Authority said the sale of the site they are on, will not only facilitate the restoration of the conserved buildings, but also add vibrancy to the area.


All in, a 1.45 hectare land parcel at the corner of North Bridge and Stamford Roads will be released under the confirmed list of the government land sales programme for the second half.


The successful bidder has the option to demolish Capitol Centre to build new and higher-yielding properties.


These include a 600-room hotel, which will increase the number of hotel rooms in the vicinity.


Analysts expect this site to generate a lot of interest.


Nicholas Mak, Director, Consultancy & Research, Knight Frank, said: “If you look at the entire area, I think it is located in a jewel of a location. The location is prime and is located very close to Raffles City, the MRT and has excellent exposure with potential re-development for one component of it, which is Capitol Centre. So, again there’s a lot of imagination. It will certainly attract world class developers.


Another 100-room hotel is slated at a confirmed site at Bukit Chermin.


This is timed to coincide with the completion of the Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk in 2011.


Tay Huey Ying, Director, Research and Advisory, Colliers International, said: “This particular locality is going up very nicely into a tourist attraction as well as drawing more businesses and residents to this locality. I think the availability of this site in the GLS programme will probably generate a fair bit of interest because sites for hotel development in this locality is generally very limited.”


She added that the four black and white bungalows would also add character and ambience to the hotel development.


Other sites up for sale are residential sites at Yio Chu Kang, Seletar Road, Sembawang Greenvale, New Upper Changi Road, Tanah Merah Kecil Avenue,

Punggol Field, Punggol Road which is marked for the building of executive condominiums


Although the site at Yio Chu Kang, Seletar Road will have commercial activities, property analysts are not expecting developers to bite


The latest programme also includes two new sites which will transform the Jurong Lake District and Kallang Riverside into a destination for work, life and play. – CNA/vm


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Here today, dust and rubble tomorrow?

Here today, dust and rubble tomorrow? 

With Singapore’s old landmarks under threat, YouthInk writers weigh in on how and why these architectural relics should be preserved



Don’t just conserve, educate the public too


BUILDINGS are not just bricks and clay; They tell stories. But only the few which hold significant tales of our cultural identity are conserved.


These are chosen for different reasons. Whether it’s the AIA Insurance Building, the first high-rise office building in Singapore, or shophouses in Chinatown, all conserved landmarks highlight an event in our history.


However, the Government cannot stop at the mere conservation of landmarks. They have to educate the public on why these buildings are conserved.


This should be done so that the landmarks do not become empty shells of a history that we do not appreciate.



Owen Yeo, 20, has a place to read Social Sciences in Singapore Management University.





How should we decide which places to keep?


SINGAPORE‘S emphasis on the preservation of our important landmarks and historic buildings seems very parochial.


On the one hand, there are commendable projects such as the restoration of colonial government quarters and houses, like at Seletar airbase and Townerville.


It is nostalgic to see these houses still around, well maintained and well used by the families who rent them.


On the other hand, there are pieces of our past that have been lost. The National Library was demolished to make way for the Fort Canning Tunnel. The Fullerton Building, once home to the nation’s first General Post Office, the Singapore Club and the Chamber of Commerce, has been transformed into a hotel. Chijmes, a former convent school, is now a popular entertainment and nightlife venue.


There must be a better way to determine what is worth preserving to benefit future generations.



Tabitha Mok, 21, is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Western Australia.





Embrace our cultural history in architecture


AS I walked along the uneven sidewalks of Bangkok, it struck me that the city’s unabashed grime – the litter, flies and mongrels – was part of its character. There is a certain realism about its imperfections that makes for a very seductive personality.


In Singapore, city planners seem to have been over-zealous in their pursuit of cleanliness, perfection and comfort at the expense of the nation’s culture and history.


The National University of Singapore, for instance, always has some construction work going on, whether it is to upgrade facilities or to build larger, sleeker buildings.


Contrast that with Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, where some buildings are not re-built; only maintenance work is done.


While NUS students enjoy the modern facilities on campus, there isn’t the same sense of pride and history when they talk about it, as compared to the Thai students, who have proudly shown me their traditional, stupa-roofed buildings, complete with tales of the campus history.


Perhaps, contrary to what the authorities seem to think, Singaporeans may prefer older buildings which reflect our cultural history much more than modern ones.


There are so many modern, cosmopolitan cities in the world. If Singapore begins to look just like any of them, without buildings of unique and authentic cultural history, how can Singaporeans feel at home?



Lee Xin En, 21, is currently on an exchange programme at Thammasat University in Bangkok. She is a South-east Asian Studies major at the National University of Singapore.





Establish more museums instead


IT IS impractical to try and conserve all of Singapore’s historical landmarks, given our land constraints.


Why not have more museums instead?


Museums take up less space, but still preserve our heritage.


Furthermore, they are tourist attractions and very educational.


This idea has been employed by Japan’s Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum and California’s Heritage Square Museum, both of which showcase historic buildings.


Why not Singapore too?


Admittedly, the experience of visiting a landmark first-hand cannot be replaced. But given Singapore’s constraints, museums may be a more viable option.



Anna Wong, 22, is a third-year psychology student at the National University of Singapore.





Put old landmarks to good use


RECENTLY, I was miffed to discover the fates of two of my former schools – Serangoon Garden South (SGSS) and Westlake Secondary.


The former was bought over by the French school, while the latter remains vacant.


Established in the 1940s, SGSS was situated in two estates. Exit through the main gates and you entered a pleasant ‘village’ of houses, five-foot walkways and cobblestone roads. Go through the back and you reached typical heartland with good food and ambience.


Though saddened by their disappearance, I am happy that one of them was revived by the French school. It is a chance for new experiences to be forged.


Another example of this is the Bencoolen area, which used to be filled with older folk visiting the temple there. Now, it has been given new life with arts and business students who have formed new attachments to old surroundings.


What makes a place more meaningful is what you do with it.


Aisha Mostafa, 22, is an art honours graduate from the University of Huddersfield.


Reminders of a city’s spirit and longevity


GREAT cities are not just fleeting centres of commerce sprouting one gleaming tower after another. They are built on the backs of fierce grit and tenacity.


Old buildings represent that resilience. These buildings should be preserved where possible, as they are a mirror into a city’s soul, echoing its past, good and bad times, reminding its inhabitants that their city is eternal.



Eef Gerard Van Emmerik, 19, has a place to read Law in Singapore Management University.




Source: Straits Times