Updated: Jan 31
For all architecture enthusiasts, photographers, instagrammers and travellers visiting Singapore in 2020, here is my list of 9 stunning new buildings in town worth taking a look. In this article, I will briefly cover the architectural highlight, suggested spots for photography and also a web map of the buildings for your easy access at the end of the article. So be sure to check these out below.
1. SDE4 - NUS School of Design and Environment
Opened since: January 2019
SDE4 is Singapore’s very first new-build net-zero energy building, meaning that the building is capable of producing energy (via its roof top solar farm), and has reduced consumption demand (using hybrid cooling system), so that it relies only on the energy produced. The building stands out, as a new, elevated visual landmark for SDE and even NUS. At the same time, it blends in, achieved seamless integration with its surrounding natural environment. SDE4 serves as an example of sustainable prototype, and of how the designing architect, built environment academics, researchers and future practitioners walk the talk of achieving sustainability. As a former SDE student, we used to joke about not having a decent building that live up to the name of the faculty, now we finally had one, and it certainly has reached greater height.
The openness and super tall ceiling at the southern garden makes the space extremely comfortable to hang out. Try taking the flight of stairs up the southern elevation and feel the breeze yourself, the view is spectacular. There is also place for food and social (Food Bars by Platypus) with DIY bowls and drinks.
Visit during late afternoon, you may miss the food, but the blend of light and shadows will be magnificent at the southern garden (if the weather is kind)
Go across to Clementi Road to enjoy a full view of the aluminium facade
2. Design Orchard
Opened since: January 2019
Architect: WOHA Architects
Design Orchard challenges the notion of traditional retail space, and presents an innovative concept of lifestyle retailing. You may have noticed this terraced three-floored building that really stands out among the conventional shopping malls along Orchard Road, and indeed its presence brings about an invigorating feel to the urban image of the shopping district with eye-catching elements such as the façade filled with portholes, mix of lush gardens with brutalist concrete finish, and the elevated rooftop view with colourful umbrellas. Its function mix of local brands, incubator and social space is also exceptional and worth supporting.
More on Design Orchard here
The retail mix of local designer stores is uniquely Singapore, checking out the terraced rooftop is a must, it is a very comfortable social space with great ambience and thoughtful shelter from the sun.
The rooftop amphitheatre offers a great vantage point for photographing light trails of Orchard Road, or even timelapses.
The rooftop itself is also photogenic, try photographing it from surrounding high rise buildings, such as 313 Somerset, and Heeren.
3. Jewel Changi Airport
Opened since: April 2019
A gem to be sought, except it’s hard to miss. Jewel boasts the world’s largest indoor waterfall and serves as another physical milestone of Singapore’s vision as the City in a Garden. This glassy, bagel shaped integrated development not only serves as an “interchange” that connects most of the terminals together, but is also a bold initiative to redefine airport as an infrastructure and commuting space. The almost column free space of its interior is a great example of structural marvel. In short, just go and take a look if you haven’t.
More on Jewel Changi here
Some say this is a combination of the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and the domes of Gardens by the Bay, that seems about right. You can literally hang out here the whole day. Feel free to get awed and carried away by the rain vortex like other visitors did, its free, and it feels great. But do remember to head up to the canopy park for tons of landscaping and recreational facilities such as the sky nets and canopy maze. In addition, visit the basement levels is also highly recommended, the glass vortex is a popular Instagram spot.
If you want to capture the beam of sunlight that shines right through the rain vortex, be there at around 9am in the morning, or after 4pm in the afternoon. Based on my experience and photos by other amazing photographers, the light beams are best captured either on the ground level, or through the greeneries on second level. The effect is diminished from third level and above.
Vsit before 8am to capture the rain vortex without rain, its pretty unique actually.
From 7:30-11:30, there will be light shows at hourly intervals, so if you are into night photography, have your tripod ready by then. Light shows are better photographed on higher levels.
Opened since: June 2019
Located near City Hall MRT Station and now known only as “Funan”, this recently reopened integrated development is perhaps the most trendy mall in town. It comprises of a lifestyle concept mall, two office towers and a serviced apartment (lyf by Ascott). According to the architect, Funan is considered to be the “new era of experiential retail”, which I agree, because even for someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping, I actually enjoyed visiting the mall due to its wide variety of other spatial elements, such as the rock climbing wall, creative mix of shops on staircases and its eye catching interior designs. The “passion cluster” that grouped retailers by theme is very innovative and creative use of space too. In addition, the open air staircase and the open access to rooftop opens up new vantage points to photographers.
More on Funan here
You don’t usually see stuff such as rock climbing facilities, rooftop futsal pitch, urban farm and bicycle lanes in a shopping mall, which makes Funan very special. Although I hardly see any bike users, watching other people do rock climbing, and also playing futsal can be very entertaining.
Definitely check out two of the rooftop access for some amazing vantage points to capture the cityscape.
Use the open air staircase to capture feature shots of the Supreme Court and enjoy panoramic view of Singapore River
There is another rooftop access using the lift which will offer you to a 360 view of both the Marina Bay and Fort Canning directions.
5. FM Global Centre (288 Pasir Panjang Road)
Opened since: Q2 2019
Architect: PT&T Consultants
If you work near the technological belt near one-north and Kent Ridge area, this building may be a familiar eye-catching sight to you. With its sleek, clean and modernistic design, it may be hard to imagine that this building is actually zoned as a business park development. The design of exterior façade reminds me of Breadtalk IHQ, another building located in the industrial estates in Tai Seng. Its worth mentioning of the efforts put in by industrial park developers for making commercial space as vibrant as possible.
As this is a commercial space, so building is not open to public. However, its façade is pretty cool and a zoom lens and perhaps a visit during the weekends could produce another exciting content for your exterior collection.
6. Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore (TCOMS)
Opened since: Q3 2019
Architect: CPG Consultants
Located within NUS, this newly completed research complex, with a state-of-the-art deep water ocean basin facility, will house Singapore’s first national R&D centre for the marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) industry. What’s eye-catching for this building is its strong marine themed exterior elements, comprising of the angular columns that resemble wooden stilts, as well as the curved roof that brings about visual associations to ocean waves. Similar to SDE4, TCOMS also incorporated biophilic design elements and solar panels for increased sustainability efforts.
Same as the above, this is a research space so building is not open to public. However, its façade is very special and a zoom lens and perhaps a visit during the weekends could produce another exciting content for your exterior collection.
TOP: November 2019
Architect: Heatherwick Studio
EDEN is Heatherwick Studio’s very first residential project in Asia and it has just been completed in November. This 104.5 metres apartment has 22 storeys but only a total of 20 apartments. That’s certainly very generous use of spaces and reflect the project’s position of ultra-luxurious residence. Like the Studio’s other high-profile projects, such as the Vessel in New York and 100 Trees in Shanghai, the exterior façade of EDEN is visually stunning and one of a kind with shell-like combined balconies, textured concrete façade and long, sleek windows. Similar to 100 Trees, EDEN also integrates green elements in its design by having vertical greening on every hanging balcony gardens, following Singapore’s vision of “City in a Garden”. These vertical greening features were completed recently before this photo was taken, so I am sure you will be more dazzled when you see them in reality.
This is a private residential development, so building is not open to public. If you happen to have friends who are going to live there, that would be really great. If not, the building exterior is still beautiful by viewing it from afar.
8. New State Courts Complex
Opening: Q1 2020
Standing tall in Havelock Square are the twin Towers of the New State Courts, the new signature landmark in Chinatown. Together with the existing octagon-shaped court built back in the 1970s, which will be refurbished and conserved, the buildings will form the New State Courts Complex with a synergistic, complementary mix of old and new. The two towers are inter-connected via a series of footbridges, with open framing and vertical gardening features that representing the value of impartiality. The building is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2019 and fully operational by Q1 2020.
Block 34 at Upper Cross Street will be a great spot to photograph the courts complex in its entirety.
Due to its scale, there are also other spots nearby with great views of the new towers in alternate perspectives, such as Eu Tong Sen Street and Merchant Road
9. Mysterious Dome-like Structure at Marina Bay
If you are a frequent visitor to the Marina Bay promenade, you may have noticed the emergence of a dome-like structure situated at the location previously occupied by Avalon. This dome structure has certainly been a unique addition to the bayfront landscape, and I too have been extremely curious about what it will turn out to be, since it seemed that the structural works have been completed recently. There has been a lot of speculations going on regarding this mysterious dome, with many online sources, including mainstream press, stating that it will turn out to be the store of a certain high-profile tech company. The CEO of the tech company could not confirm this either, so as of today its identity is still a mystery. Regardless, one thing is for sure, that its round shape and matte surface certainly stands out against the sharp edges and glassy surfaces of the skyscrapers around, like a Pearl of Marina Bay. Let’s wait and see, so do keep a look out for updates to this post.
I have created a map with all the building locations on Google Map HERE:
That’s it for our list! Although the forms and functions of these buildings are very different, there is one thing in common, these are what I believe to be exceptional examples of tropical architecture, with great use of vertical greening, landscape designs and considerations of sustainability. So if you are planning a trip to Singapore or just wanted to check out some new buildings in town, be sure to pay them a visit!
Did we miss out any new buildings? Do share with me your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org Also do check out our other articles on GIS and photography. We specialize in architectural, interior and hotel photography and creative video works, for business enquiries or collaborations, please email me at email@example.com, cheers.
About the author
Kevin Siyuan an architectural photographer and filmmaker at Shiya Studio. We specialize in architectural, interior, hotel photography and creative video works. Check out my IG (ksy.yuan) and Youtube for my photo and video works.