Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Global Walking Tour: Singapore
2 August 2018
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SINGAPORE – The theme for this year's CTBUH Global Walking Tour was "Walking on Water." Tour participants explored the relationship of tall buildings with waterfronts and other natural settings, and investigated Urban Habitat through the lens of the open spaces adjacent to or surrounding the tall buildings.

This year marks the fifth CTBUH Global Walking Tour. The goal of these walking tours is to bring people from around the world together to participate in a day of exploring the relationship of tall buildings with their urban habitats. Some questions that were explored along the way include, "How do tall buildings help frame and create the settings in which they are located?" "How can this relationship be improved?" "How can we as a global society learn from each other and improve our urban habitats?"

The Singapore Global Walk was led by Dr. Swinal Samant & Dr. Johannes Widodo, Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore.

The CTBUH Singapore Global Walk featured ten iconic spots in the city. The tour, led by Dr. Swinal Samant & Dr. Johannes Widodo, Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore, kicked off at Yueh Hai Ching Temple, the "genius loci" and the "nucleus" of the ancient port city of Singapore.

This temple was the first stop for Chinese immigrants coming into Singapore in the early 19th century and is an example of a Taoist temple in a Chinese architectural style. The orientation of the temple pays special attention to Feng Shui. Yueh Hai Ching Temple is orientated to the southeast, which allows it to take advantage of the south easterly winds and sunshine and creates a pleasant environment for the people living in the halls and courtyards.

Participants visit the Boat Quay, a prosperous shipping hub in the 1860s (left); The tour group visited Singapore’s famous Merlion statue, a mythological creature that has become an unofficial symbol for the city (right).

Following the temple, the group made their way to the second stop, Boat Quay, the old harbor and center of the cosmopolitan town of Singapore. It was the formerly the most prosperous city port, with three-quarters of all shipping business occurring there in the 1860s. The south of the river resembles the belly of a carp, which the Chinese believe is associated with wealth and prosperity, so many built shophouses, a kind of vernacular dwelling, in the area. Though Boat Quay's primary role has expanded beyond aquatic trade, the shophouses have been carefully conserved, and now house various bars, pubs and restaurants. Boat Quay now serves as a tourist and commercial zone along the Singapore River. It is the soft front to the banking and financial sectors lying immediately behind it.

The group continued from the Quay to Raffles Place, at the heart of the Financial District of Singapore. It was first planned in the 1820s as the commercial square that would serve as the hub of commercial activity in Raffles' Town Plan. It features some of the tallest buildings and landmarks of the country. From there they moved to Clifford Pier, a former pier that is now renovated and converted into a restaurant. It was built between 1927 and 1933, and was named after Sir Hugh Clifford, the former Governor of the Straits Settlement. The building's architecture has a simple yet unique language, with a roof structure comprising concrete arched trusses. Participants walked along the former pier until they came upon the Merlion. The Merlion is an unofficial mascot of Singapore, represented as a mythical creature with a lion's head and a fish's body.

The group visits the Esplanade Bridge, which was built to help vehicles cross between Marina Centre and Shenton Way (top left); Singapore’s skyline is visible from Clifford Pier (top right).
Views from the pier show the Singapore River and its assemblage of tall buildings in the financial sector.

From the Merlion the group walked to the Esplanade Bridge, which spans across 261 meters (856 feet), with Esplanade on its north and Merlion on its south. It is 70 meters wide (229 feet) and includes two four-lane carriageways and walkways along the sides. The bridge was built to facilitate vehicular access between the Marina Centre and Shenton Way. Construction of the bridge began in early 1994 and was completed in 1997.

Esplanade is a performing arts center located at the mouth of the Singapore River. It consists of a concert hall with a seating capacity of 1,600 and a theatre with a capacity of about 2,000. The building was jointly designed by DP Architects and London-based Michael Wilford & Partners. The design consists of two round space frames fitted with triangulated glass elements and sunshades. The unique architectural language was said to resemble a durian, a fruit symbolically associated with tropicality.

The Esplanade, a performing arts center, has a form that resembles a Durian (left); Participants gather near the Marina Bay Sands, a multi-use development that contains a convention center, resort, hotel, a shopping center, a museum – and is topped by an infinity pool.

The walk continued to The Float@Marina Bay, the world's largest floating stage. The floating platform was made entirely of steel and measures 120 by 83 meters. The platform can bear the weight of up to 9,000 people, 200 tonnes of stage props and 30 tons of military vehicles. The floating platform has been used for a range of events, including the National Day Parade, sporting events, concerts, exhibitions, and art and cultural performances.

Following The Float@Marina Bay, the group crossed the Double Helix Bridge. The pedestrian bridge features canopies made of fritted-glass and perforated steel mesh that are incorporated along parts of the inner spiral to provide shade for the pedestrians. The bridge has four viewing platforms offering views of the Singapore skyline and events that take place along the Marina Bay. At night, the bridge is illuminated by a series of lights that highlight its double helix structure.

The last stop on the tour was Marina Bay Sands, an iconic, integrated resort fronting the Marina Bay area. It is a mixed-use integrated development and consists of a hotel, a convention exhibition center, a shopping mall, a museum and two large theatres. The hotel is topped by a 340-meter (1,115-foot) long skypark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150-meter (492-foot) infinity swimming pool. The Singapore tour group took in one last view of the city, reflecting on how structures old and new can create functional spaces to be enjoyed by all.

Tour participants take a group photo on the Double Helix Bridge with a panoramic view of downtown Singapore in the background.