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25 January 2012 / leggypeggy

Singapore architecture—the new

The stylish School of the Arts building in Singapore

You don’t often see a building with plants cascading down its outside walls, but that’s exactly what caught my eye when we approached the new School of the Arts (SOTA) in Singapore. I took a picture—just one so-so snap—and was surprised a few months later to see the building featured in The Australian’s Wish magazine. The edition, which focused on design, described the SOTA as ‘immensely exciting architecture’ and a structure full of texture.

It was designed by Richard Hassell, a Western Australian, and Wong Mun Summ, a Singaporean, who together make up the highly regarded WOHA* architecture practice, which is based in Singapore. Some of their other work includes the Stadium MRT station in Bangkok and The Hyde luxury apartments in Sydney.

Apparently I’m not the only person who likes the look of the SOTA. The design won WOHA the 2011 Jorn Utzon Award for International Architecture, awarded by the Australian Institute of Architects.

The next issue of Wish, featured another striking building in Singapore. Poor John and I saw this over-the-top structure from a distance when we walked about 15 kilometres in one day. At the time, we had no idea what it was, and no one handy to ask. Although someone guessed it was a fitness centre.

The impressive Marina Bay Sands

Turns out it is the colossal Marina Bay Sands, which opened in 2010. It has 57 floors of 2561 hotel rooms, the world’s largest freestanding casino and a convention centre that can cater for 10,000 guests a day. At the very top, the surfboard-shaped, 340-metre-long SkyPark stretches across the hotel’s three skyscrapers. This rooftop playground is for the leisure entertainment of guests only. It has a 150-metre-long pool. Jacuzzis, bar, lounge and gym (oh hey, it really is a fitness centre), and the best view in town. Or so I’m told.

If you want to get up there for a gander, you can grab a hotel room for ‘as little’ as $339 a night. But don’t expect complete value for money. Wish magazine is about style and quality, and the author of the article had a whinge about the calibre of the Marina Bay Sands’ interior.

He referred to little problems like furniture being scratched and cupboard doors being wobbly. And also complained about bigger issues like the general decor in rooms and public spaces, unimaginative use of space and the overall atmosphere. He said eating there ‘feels like a bit of a steamed bun-fight in a bank lobby. Not good’.

Nevertheless, it’s an incredible structure with an amazing presence on the city’s skyline. Besides, after spending months in a tent, I’m sure I could live with room art that looks ‘like someone spat on a lazy susan’ and ‘bedside lamps that are too far from the bed’.

* In case you’re wondering, WOHA is not an acronym and doesn’t seem to stand for anything.

Also don’t forget to pick a number before 29 February 2012.

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