An international competition was held in 2007 to select the architect for the restoration and adaptive reuse of the city state’s most important national monuments, the former Supreme Court and City Hall, to create a Gallery for the collection, study and presentation of South-east Asian Art. The winning entry is now newly completed as the National Gallery Singapore.
Two signature elements of the design brought the two monuments together as one entity. The first is a new filigreed roofing structure, held up by tall tree-like steel columns, that united the upper levels and swoops down in between the two buildings to announce an entrance facing the Padang. The second is a long concourse in the basement that allows the formation of a circulation spine while avoiding the different existing structures of the two buildings above grade.
The judges felt that the joining of the two buildings is clever and well-done. The scale of the intervention, including elements such as the grand stair and the screen, was managed perfectly, given the size of the old buildings and the expanse of the context.
The jury felt that the project definitely transformed the two buildings into a generous public room that would be a lovely discovery for all who pass through it. This public room is a most important addition to the city, putting to good use what would otherwise be a bunch of very cellular spaces.
In terms of conservation, the project was a powerful yet modest example of how contemporary space can be used to connect two neoclassical buildings. The judges unanimously voted to give the project a Design Award.