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[Architecture in Singapore] 9 new buildings worth checking out in 2020 and where they are located

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

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

Architects: Serie + Multiply Architects, Surbana Jurong

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.

Read more about the building here and here

What’s special:

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.

For photographers:

  • 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

What’s special:

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.

For photographers:

  • 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

Architect: Safdie Architects and RSP Architects

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

What’s special:

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.

For photographers:

  • 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.

4. Funan

Opened since: June 2019

Architect: Woods Bagot and RSP Architects

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

What’s special:

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.

For photographers:

  • 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