Design Wonders Right in Our Midst
As a lead-on from an earlier successful exhibition, the URA has organised another insightful review of more of Singapore’s outstanding architecture and urban design works in our latest exhibition, “Singapore 1:1 Island”. Among the exhibits are timeless projects completed in the early years of our independence as well as some of the latest additions to our built environment.
by Pearly Cheong
A visit to URA’s latest exhibition – “Singapore 1:1 Island” – will tell you that our nation is indeed a showcase of delightful works of architecture and urban design.

Organised by the URA in collaboration with the Board of Architects (BOA), National University of Singapore (NUS), Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) and the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA), the exhibition features 65 outstanding developments, found outside our city centre and completed over the past four decades. It is part of the URA’s efforts to inculcate an interest and appreciation among the community of how good design can transform and enrich our everyday experiences, and strengthen our sense of identity.

An archive for future generations

“Singapore 1:1 Island” was officially opened by Ms Grace Fu, Minister of State for National Development on 16 November 2007. It is a follow-up exhibition to “Singapore 1:1 City”, which was launched by President S R Nathan in 2005 to commemorate Singapore’s 40th anniversary as a nation. Then, 60 projects completed in the Central Area in the last 40 years were highlighted to portray our city’s architectural and urban design uniqueness.

Singapore has often been likened to a 1:1 scale, life-sized gallery of fine and outstanding architecture and urban design works. In line with this notion, “Singapore 1:1 Island” serves as an archive of significant buildings that represent important milestones and achievements in our historical and architectural development. Featured projects symbolise not just groundbreaking architectural techniques or styles, but collectively form a precious storehouse of fond memories and rich meanings for us as a nation.

Our built environment tells our success story

Ranging from prominent national landmarks, favourite leisure hangouts to our very own well-loved homes, the 65 projects were selected based on their significance to Singapore’s history, architectural merit and significance, as well as their urban design quality. They were jointly selected from some 270 nominations by a Selection Panel comprising professionals in the architectural, building and real estate fraternity. The exhibition was curated by Dr Wong Yunn Chii, who heads the Department of Architecture at the NUS.

Through models, drawings, photographs, conceptual sketches and recorded interviews with our leading architects, visitors experience a visual journey that explores the dynamism of Singapore architecture through three themes that reflect our economic and social progress: Provision/Production (1965 – 1975); Communication/Connection (1976 – 1985) and Innovation/Distinction (1986 – 2007).

In addition to the 65 profiled projects, the “Singapore 1:1 Island” exhibition also features models of some of our city’s most highly-anticipated upcoming developments, including the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, South Beach and the School of the Arts.

Where to catch it

The exhibition is held at the ground floor atrium of The URA Centre at 45 Maxwell Road from now until 31 March 2008. It is open from Mondays to Fridays (9am to 7pm) and on Saturdays (9am to 5pm). Admission is free.

Visitors to the exhibition at the URA Centre may purchase a 342-page catalogue containing detailed write-ups and more visuals of each of the featured projects at a promotional price of $29.90 until the end of the exhibition. Special boxed sets containing this and the earlier-produced “Singapore 1:1 City” catalogue are also on sale at $64.90.

For more details on the exhibition, please visit

Provision/Production(1965 – 1975) Developments in this section reflect the priorities of our early Independence years – that of opening up areas outside the city centre and creating new towns and industrial buildings.

Telok Blangah Electrical Substation
Designed as a low maintenance, simple and aesthetically pleasing structure to house electrical equipment, this substation is a concrete building clad in a curtain wall of solid and perforated aluminium panels and adjustable glass louvres.

Toa Payoh Town Centre
Major amenities, such as an air-conditioned bus interchange, supermarkets, a library and cinemas are located at the Town Centre, which comprises 4-storey shophouses forming a halfkilometre “L-shaped” shopping spine.

Communication/Connection (1976 – 1985) With bread and butter issues resolved, the focus during this phase was on creating platforms for communities to connect, and on providing more spaces for education and recreation.

Arcadia Condominium
Inspired by the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon”, Arcadia was designed with vertical landscaping, having generous garden terraces on every level, and with central courtyards within each block.

The 19-storey residential block initiated a trend in the use of glass curtain walls and steel for the domestic setting. Some of its outstanding features include the blue and green glass colours and colourful pop-out balconies.

Marine Parade Community Club
The building’s leaf-like roof and its huge wall mural cladding (which is a piece of commissioned artwork) makes this a distinctive landmark.

Republic of Singapore Yacht Club
The 2-storey clubhouse has a traditional Minangkabau roof. Playing up its nautical theme, the club escapes the conventionality of other clubs by reinstating the grandeur of the sea-view as its distinctive feature.

Singapore Indoor Stadium
As an object of prestige and discipline, the Stadium’s pantadome diamondshaped roof has qualities of modern and traditional Asian roofs typical of temple architecture. The roof form and detailing diffuse direct solar radiation and run-offs.

Tampines Neighbourhood 4
This was the first Design and Build competition project organised by the Housing and Development Board with the intention of providing private architects the opportunity to offer innovative ways of designing public housing projects. The winning design’s brick-clad façades give the precinct a strong presence and identity within the surrounding context.

Innovation/Distinction (1986 – 2007) With changing global trends and local aspirations, buildings in this section reflect new design philosophies that emphasise distinctiveness, creativity and environmental friendliness.

Ang Mo Kio Autopoint
This is Singapore’s first multi-tiered integrated motor repair workshop. It accommodates more than 100 motor workshops and auto-related retail shops.

Biopolis @ one-north
Biopolis is a research hub within one-north, whose vision is that its collective environment forms the shape and space of the future where architecture co-evolves with the culture of work. Functionally, upper level linkages and a common-service- supply basement provide an integrating factor.

Assyafaah Mosque
The design of this project affirms the prospect of modern creative invention to connect cultural forms of the past, to validate its relevance and provide continuity. The creative use of architectural elements and spatial manipulations produced a climatically very responsive building.

East Coast Lagoon Food Village
The image of a “kampong” setting with pitched-roof open pavilions, timber-decks, satay BBQ pits and open-air seats provide a resort feel to the place.

Aramsa – The Garden Spa
This project was the National Park Board’s first attempt to integrate a spa and wellnessa facility into park land. Instead of fencing or walls, dense landscaping and heavy foliage are used to separate the spa from the rest of the park.

Expo MRT Station
This MRT station comprises two sculptural roofs. The open form of the station encourages airflow through the building while the polished metal surfaces reflect daylight onto the platforms and minimises the dependency on artificial lighting.

Caribbean @ Keppel Bay
The 22 blocks of this condominium development sit on the 150-year-old docks of Keppel Harbour, providing views of the water from all apartments.

The Redemptorist Monastery
This building demonstrates how simple geometry can create an elegant development. Highlights include its 3-storey cylindrical design that consists of the refectory (dining hall), library and chapel, garden courtyards and terraces.

Landscape elements of water and light features – along the harbourfront promenade and the sky roof with wading pools – are creatively deployed to draw and delight shoppers at Singapore’s latest and largest lifestyle and retail hub.

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