In the early years of aggressive construction in all parts of the city, demolition of many colonial era buildings and landmarks has prompted a more recent re-examination of the existing structures in need of historic preservation. W Architects’ renovation of Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, the oldest performing arts centre in Singapore, has transformed an existing classical building to a state-of-the-art facility that retains its historical envelope and provides performance spaces suitable for modern needs. Another on-going project exemplifying large-scale adaptive reuse is the National Gallery Singapore by Studio Milou. The 60,000 square foot Gallery, situated in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings, will house the largest public collection of Southeast Asian art in the world when it opens its doors in 2015.
On a more humble scale, a well-executed renovation of a boutique hotel, Lloyd’s Inn, by local design practice FARM shows a minimalist approach to revamping an existing structure to accommodate the hotel’s new vision for its brand. Meanwhile, another adaptive reuse project has established a formal nexus for Singapore’s design industry. SCDA’s National Design Centre, situated in a former convent, provides interconnected spaces for designers and businesses to work, interact and collaborate with one another.
While the push for preservation of existing buildings has brought new life to the beloved colonial landmarks, it is Singapore’s commitment to higher education that has spurred a slew of new projects that strive to reimagine traditional learning spaces and classrooms. National University Of Singapore’s Education Resource Centre by W Architects was named the “Building of the Year” at the Architects Regional Council of Asia Awards for Architecture 2013 for facilitating innovative, interactive learning environments. Brand new education and research facilities, like Ministry of Design’s OCBC Campus and RSP Architects’ IES Redevelopment, have created unique spatial solutions conducive to active learning and collaboration. Lastly, as a testament to a growing interest in design education, UN Studio-designed new campus for Singapore University of Technology and Design and Singapore Polytechnic Design School by RSP Architects are ready to open their doors to the next generation of homegrown designers.