Heritage sites, museums, markets, theme parks. These are some of the things that people like to check out when travelling. Buildings don't make the cut, unless they are so spectacular, as in the case of Dubai's Burj Khalifa, travellers don't usually include them in their itinerary. But in Singapore, it's hard not to make an exception. Dubbed as an urban jungle, Singapore seems to encourage total creativity and ingenuity in the designing of their buildings and infrastructures. And the effort is worth it if worldwide recognition is any indication. Are you planning to visit the Lion City anytime soon, do not forget to check out these 10 architectural wonders.
1. PARKROYAL on Pickering
With over 15,000 metres of gardens, waterfalls, and diverse flora species, PARKROYAL on Pickering began a hotel-in-garden concept that is so impressive, it easily garnered international attention. Forbes Magazine called it, "hotel of the future," not only for its one-of-a-kind architectural design but also for its superior amenities and eco-friendly features.
The façade alone is a visual feast, inspired by the rice-paddy fields most commonly found in its neighbouring Southeast Asian countries. It is described to be a modern-day interpretation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It has sky gardens and an exclusive Orchid Club lounge by the rooftop. Moreover, it uses solar-powered systems.
Because of its remarkable concept and design, it has been recognised numerous times by both local and international award-giving bodies, such as the President's Design Award, World Travel Awards 2017, Commercial Projects Design Award [Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA)], Sydney Superior Hotel of the Year 2016, among others.
This 5-star hotel was featured in the Hollywood film, Hitman, Agent 47.
You can find PARKROYAL on Pickering in the Upper Pickering Street, a few minutes away from the Chinatown and Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.
2. Gardens By The Bay
It was hailed as the World Building of the Year during the World Architecture Festival, and it is only one of the many accolades it has received since its inception 2012. Garden by the Bay, one of the most famous points of interest in Singapore, is a nature park with over 101 hectares of land area. It has three water-front gardens (Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden, and Bay Central Garden), plant and flower conservatories, sun pavilion, art sculptures, lakes, among others.
The Garden is best known for the Supertree Grove, tree-like vertical gardens that are about 25 to 50 metres tall. These alien-like canopies have often been compared to the Hometree featured in the sci-fi film, Avatar especially when it is lighted up at night.
The park's popularity is unparalleled, garnering over 6.4 million visitors in 2014 alone. But Gardens by the Bay is more than just a tourist attraction, it is part of the Singaporean government's goal of transforming the country from a "Garden City" to a "City in a Garden".
Garden by the Bay can be found along Marina Gardens Drive.
3. National Gallery Singapore
The National Gallery Singapore takes residence in two buildings that were formerly used as the country's City Hall and Supreme Court that date back to 1929. Today it houses the largest public collection of contemporary art from some of the best artists in Singapore and Southeast Asia. It is situated in the Civic District, along St. Andrew's Road.
The building has a glass roof, brass, and marble pillars, beautifully restored to maintain its heritage while keeping up with the modern time. Just like the rest of the architectural marvels of Singapore, the National Gallery has won awards, such as the Best Attraction Experience, Breakthrough Contribution to Tourism, and Best Customer Service (Attractions) in 2016, Singapore Tourism Awards.
4. Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
From afar it looks like a giant durian, Singapore's national fruit, hence its label, the durian building. Esplanade is a dome-shaped construction with a spiky exterior. Inside you can find a concert hall with over 1,600 seats, a theatre with a 2,000 seating capacity, and numerous retail outlets. This building was developed with a whopping SGD 600 million. It sits on a 60,000 square metres of land, formerly occupied by Satay Club, a well-known hawker centre in Singapore.
5. Henderson Waves Bridge
The Instagram-worthy Henderson Waves bridge is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge, standing at about 36 meters above Henderson Road. The bridge is 274 metre-long and 8m-wide. It is a part of the Southern Ridges, a 9-km trail that connects the Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, and Kent Ridge Park.
The bridge earns the spot on this list for its wave-like structure, made up of seven curved steel ribs. Under the waves are seats made of yellow balau wood slats, making it a perfect place for hanging out. The bridge is a popular spot for joggers and an ideal place to go to if you want a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the harbour. From 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., the bridge is beautifully illuminated with LED light.
6. The Interlace
It looks like it stepped right out of the movie, Inception. The Interlace is a 1040-unit apartment building famous for its bizarre and complicated design. The buildings are stacked with one another in a hexagonal layout, reminiscent of Jenga blocks. Designed by OMA and Ole Scheeren, the building has won the Urban Habitat Award in 2014 and World Building of the Year in the World Architecture Festival in 2015.
The complex can be found on the corner of Depot Road and Alexandra Road. It's about 170,000 square metres in size with a total of 31 apartment blocks. Among the amenities you can find inside are swimming pools, gym, tennis courts, basketball court, children playgrounds, karaoke rooms, and pool billiards.
7. Space Asia Hub
Space Asia Hub is an exhibition centre (showroom) for furniture design retailer located in the Bencoolen street in Singapore, right in the middle of the Arts and Entertainment District. The property is about 40,000 sq ft and just like the National Gallery, it is a heritage building, restored and renovated using timber and metal trusses. It has three interconnected spaces, designed differently from one another; a traditional white painted villa, a glass building, and a conservation shophouse. Over 50 million Singapore dollars were invested in the creation of this multiplex.
8. Art Science Museum
Even from a distance, it is bound to arouse anyone's attention and curiosity as it is shaped like a blossoming lotus flower. The Art Science Museum is located at Marina Bay Sands. The museum, designed by Architect Moshe Safdie, has 21 gallery spaces featuring world art exhibitions. Art Science Museum was opened in 2011 under Prime Minister, Lee Hsien.
It also known as "The Welcoming Hand of Singapore", a title given by Sheldon Adelson, the chairman of Las Vegas Sands, in reference to the building's 10 extensions or "fingers", which stands for the galleries inside. It is worth noting that this museum has a sustainability feature. It collects rainwater that is used for the restrooms inside the building.
9. Marina Bay Sands
Arguably, the most famous building in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort that lies in front of Marina Bay. Over 8 billion SGD was spent to build this building, thus it is said to be the world's most expensive standalone casino property.
The resort is best known for its rooftop infinity pool offering the most amazing 360 view of the Singapore skyline. Just like the Art Science Museum, Marina Bay Sands was designed by Architect Moshe Safdie. It has three grand 55-storey towers, 2,561 hotel rooms, a mall, museum, two large theatres, restaurants, a floating pavilion, skating rink, and the largest atrium casino in the world. Construction began in 2009 and it was officially opened in the first quarter of 2011.
10. Helix Bridge
The last architectural wonder in our list, the Helix Bridge, a 280-metre pedestrian bridge that links the Marina Centre and Marina South in the Marina Bay area. As the name implies, the bridge's canopies, made of fritted glass and perforated steel mesh look like intertwined helices. The structure was inspired by the DNA and so each spiral is a different colour, representing the 4 bases of DNA. The bridge is lighted up in the evening, making it one of the most visually appealing sights in Singapore at night. It won the World's Best Transport Building Award as well as the World Architecture Festival Award in 2011.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marjorie Gavan is a writer by profession and by passion. She has a degree in B.S. Journalism and now has 15 years of writing and editing experience under her belt. She currently works as a knowledge specialist in an IT company in Quezon City, Philippines. She chronicles her travel adventures in her blog, Coffeehan.