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My Escapes Singapore Bustling, Colourful Singapore An Overview of Singapore's Architecture

An Overview of Singapore's Architecture

May 30, 2014
June 5, 2015

What I've found especially exciting about Singapore was its multiculturalism, which is best visible on architecture.
I was perplexed when by the nuances and the striking contrast of colours, which all add up to create an unmistakable Singaporean feel.
There even is a mix of architectural styles - for instance: European classical elements blend together with traditional Chinese motifs.

You can't rush through Singapore in just a few days and say "you've been there". It's one of those destinations that requires careful examination. So, take your time.

As a slow traveler, this is what I do - I take the time to thoroughly explore and soak up the local atmosphere.

I was amazed at the sight of the style diversity amongst the old historic buildings. Wandering in the colourful ethnic districts and historic neighbourhoods were my most enjoyable experiences.

Parkview Square

Feels like in Gotham City

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Of course, beside the old traditional buildings, there's a collection of appealing modenr creations as well. See the images above and below this text...

The Parkview Square skyscraper is one of my favourite buildings in Singapore. Couldn't say I have a single favourite one, but this one is unique on the entire island.

This high-rise bulding is a representative of Postmodern architecture, namely of the Neo Art Deco and Neoclassical styles.

The Parkview Square skyscraper was finalized in 2002 and it has 24 floors, with a height of 144 m.

The full Parkview Square skyscraper

The Parkview Square vertically...

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Designed by the US firm James Adams Design and DP Architects of Singapore, whose main source of inspiration was an old 1929 skyscraper in New York (the Chanin Building).

The building is (visibly) very modern, but has that characteristic New York Art Deco feel.

Remember my previous post about the strange Helsinki Central Railway Station?
Well, this skyscraper resembles it by style quite a lot, if you take a close look!

In that previous article, I mentioned the fact that Helsinki has a weird Gotham City feel, but this Singaporean building (alone) has that too.

It seems, there's a number of buildings scattered in the World, which remind me of the buildings seen in the Batman movies.
In New York, Helsinki, Budapest and behold: Singapore also joins the club!

As mentioned, this building was admittedly inspired by the elegant Art Deco style.

Strangely enough, the Finns say the (mentioned) Helsinki train station is a rare breed of Art Nouveau, not at all Art Deco. The two styles are very different. However, a handful of buildings seem to borrow elements from both.

Anyway,... this Parkview Square skyscraper in Singapore had a construction cost of nearly 88 million Singapore dollars.
And, considering the high cost of just about anything in Singapore, this is not such a heavy expense.

The building has hand-crafted gargoyles on its exterior and its top section features statues of four men holding white spheres (similar statues were on the Helsinki Railway Station building).

You can find the Parkview Square building if you get to the Bugis Junction MRT station - perhaps the best way to approach it.

Now to jump further: Singapore's spiral staircases. These "spinning stairs" could be considered traditional and you'll see them in many parts of the city...

Spiral staircases

Typically Singaporean. I've seen some in the Outram area and in Geylang

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...these can be found in many parts and are rather traditional older buildings, but not very old, to be honest (20th century buildings).

Beside the hypermodern buildings, there's a plethora of historic Chinese shop houses, British colonial era Christian churches (British Anglican, Portuguese colonial, Armenian Apostholic, French, even Chinese Roman Catholic), but what I personally found most attractive were the old districts, including Bras Basah, Bugis, Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street - predominantly ethnic neighbourhoods.

Little India building

Fine details on a building in Little India

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Normally, travelers look up the main attractions, but because I love digging deeper, I do long architecture tours all by myself, often entering obscure little streets, photographing places that are not normally considered "attractions".

What can be more interesting than exploring the streets and discovering Singapore's architectural jungle?

Singapore urban explorations are exhilarating. Trust me! You'll love it if you try.

Baroque and Chinese architecture

Shop house in Bras Basah with unmistakable Baroque elements, but a strong Chinese feel

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What's so special about Singapore is that you'll come across unusual combinations of styles.

Some buildings had a strong Chinese feel, but they had that strong "European-ish" elegance, some reflecting Baroque and Victorian elements.

If you want to see fine, pure traditional Chinese architecture, then you shouldn't miss the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, found in the middle of Chinatown. Although it's a new building, it was built in Tang Dynasty style.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

The pagoda of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

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In my night-time exploration of Singapore's Chinatown article you can read more about the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum building.

In Little India, I came across a large number of shop houses, many bearing a mix of European styles, but a strong Chinese feel and and striking contrast between its colours (more contrastful than what you can see in Chinatown).

The building below is found at the edge of Little India and it boasts in vibrant sharp vivid colours...

Vivid colours in Little India

Blue-purple-pink - made me drool for ice-cream in the exotic Singapore heat!

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One of the most beautiful buildings in Little India is the Abdul Gafoor Mosque, which was built in a mix of Arabian- and Renaissance styles.

The complexity and the sheer number of beautiful, but even peculiar buildings doesn't allow me to give you enough information, nor enough photos...
If wouldn't be an exaggeration if I'd say "there's too much to see in Singapore". Two weeks won't suffice, but you'll be able to see all of what I was able to during these two escapes.

If you go to the main section of this trip, then you will be able to access all articles (which by the way, contain well of 200 photos).

I also provided a page dedicated to the look and feel of Singapore, which takes a look at the way it really feels being there, overall: from climate to cleanliness and architecture, various subjects are covered.

And, my second Singapore trip shows off even more architectural delicacies and ethnic neighbourhoods.

Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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