Singapore’s Historic Buildings

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Singapore’s Historic Buildings

It’s 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles, landed and founded modern Singapore.   And while this modern city is perhaps more associated cutting edge modern architecture, the city does have a number of important buildings, dating right back to colonial times.   The video above, feature’s many of the country’s oldest, and best-loved buildings, many of which have been witness to important events in Singapore’s relatively short history.  

Choosing just 10 or so historic Singapore buildings is difficult, and of course, there are some omissions.

For example, I’ve only included a couple of religious buildings in this list, even though there are many Mosques, Chinese and Indian temples that, that are important heritage buildings, dating right back to the formation of Singapore.   I plan to do a follow-up video and article on these later in the year.

But for now, here are ten or so of some of the most interesting heritage sites and buildings in Singapore   

Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House

First on the list of historic buildings is Old Parliament House.  Built in 1827,  and located in the Civic area, next to the Singapore River, this is the oldest government building and perhaps the oldest surviving building in Singapore. It was home to the Parliament of Singapore from 1965 to 1999,

Fullerton Hotel

Fullerton Building

Perhaps Singapore’s most famous building, The Fullerton was named after Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the Straits Settlements 

Designed and used as the General Post Office, the building has also served as a military hospital in the Second World War, but today this impressive building is home to the Fullerton hotel

Empress Place Building 

Located on the north bank of the river in the Civic Area. Constructed in four phases from 1864 to 1920, these were originally Government Offices

The original section of the building was designed by colonial engineer John McNair in a neo-Palladian style

The building is currently the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, again in the Civic Area, just next to Empress Place. 

It first began life as the Town Hall in 1862.  Later in the early 1900s, a second public hall was built next to it and joined by a clock tower to form one larger building.

It underwent a major four-year long re-refurbishment in 2010 wand it now looks immaculate, with a newly modernised theatre and concert hall

National Gallery Singapore

Another structure that began life as two separate buildings is the new National Gallery

The first building, the old Supreme Court was designed by Frank Dorrington Ward, in a style that exemplifies British colonial architecture, and opened in 1939

The City Hall building was completed in 1929 in a neo-classical style. It has witnessed important moments in Singapore’s history, including the formal Japanese surrender of Singapore back to the British in 1945

Both buildings are now joined together by a large central atrium

St Andrew’s Cathedral

St Andrew’s is the country’s largest cathedral.  Located near City Hall, this Cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore was named Saint Andrew after the patron saint of Scotland in honour of the Scottish community who donated to the building fund.[5]

 A church existed on the site since 1836, the current church, however, was built in 1856–1861.

Old Hill Street Police Station

The Old Hill Police Station was built in Neo-Classical style and designed F. Dorrington Ward.

As well the usual facilities for a police station, there were living quarters for policemen and their families.

Completed in 1934, it was the largest pre-war government building in Singapore. It has a total of 927 windows with colourful shutters.

It now serves as offices for several government departments

Singaporean Shophouses

Singapore Shop Houses

The Singapore shophouse is a quintessential architectural icon

The origins of the Singapore shop house, trace back to China, where a majority of early immigrants came from.

The first shop houses were constructed during the mid-1840s and there are some well-preserved examples in Everton Road

Baba House

Baba House Singapore

One distinct shop house style is the Peranakan shophouse, and there are some great examples in Joo Chiat. 

Peranakan refers to the descendants of the Chinese who originally settled in Malaysia and Singapore

Baba House, built in the 1890s in Neil Road, is a beautifully restored Peranakan house and showcases the Peranakan history, architecture and heritage. 

For more on the Peranakan culture, and if you live in Singapore, visit the Peranakan Museum, itself housed in a historic building in Armenia Street

Thian Hock Keng

Thian Hock Keng  (literally “Palace of Heavenly Happiness”), is a temple built for seafarers to give thanks to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu for a safe sea passage on their arrival to Singapore. Completed in 1842

Telok Ayer where the temple is situated, marked the coastline before land reclamation. 

Armenian Church

Finally, This church was commissioned by the first twelve Armenian families that settled in Singapore. It was designed by George Coleman, the architect of many of Singapore’s early buildings. One of the country=’s earliest surviving churches,  It was opened in 1836


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