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     FrontPage Edition: Wed 26 March 2008

Proposed new open space at Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station


URA unveils design of new open space at Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station
The vacant State land above Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station will soon offer more than just a convenient access point for pedestrians making their way from the station to the surrounding malls. To capitalise on its central location, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has unveiled plans for the site to be home to a new open space that will play host to community events and performances. It will also feature a sculptural outdoor amphitheatre and a Food & Beverage (F&B) pavilion.
The development of this open space is in line with the URA’s Public Spaces and Urban Waterfront Master Plan to have a variety of public spaces that will make our city centre more dynamic, distinctive and delightful. Instead of leaving the State land vacant as there are no development plans for the site in the mid-term, it will be better served in the interim as a public space for community events and activities.
The project will add to the variety of public spaces that are already found in our city centre. These include green spaces such as parks and open plazas within commercial developments that have become popular venues for community activities. Such spaces not only enhance and enrich community life, but add more vibrancy to our city. The new open space, with its strategic location and architecturally inspiring design, is thus envisioned to be yet another community and gathering focal point that will add a new dimension of life to the Orchard Road shopping belt and its surroundings.
To create a public platform to showcase good design and to celebrate our local design talents, the URA commissioned Mr Chan Soo Khian of SCDA Architects Pte Ltd, to conceptualise this public space in 2006 as part of a community project. The commission was to specially mark the inaugural President’s Design Award, in which Mr Chan clinched the Designer of the Year title in Architecture and Urban Design.
The Award is Singapore’s highest accolade for excellence in design and is jointly presented by the DesignSingapore Council and URA. Said Mrs Cheong Koon Hean, CEO, URA and who also chairs the President Design Awards’ Architectural and Urban Design jury, “Appointing Mr Chan Soo Khian to design the open space was a way for a recipient of the President’s Design Award to contribute to good design in the public realm. Through the project, we hope to promote a greater awareness of good design in our environment and help the community better appreciate how well-designed spaces can positively influence our day-to-day experiences and reinforce the sense of belonging to our city.”
Three zones with their own unique characters
The URA will implement the construction plans for the open space and the National Parks Board (NParks) will oversee its maintenance and programming to cater to different interests and activities.
The key highlights of the open space include three main activity zones, each with its own character and distinctive atmosphere:
a) Intimate plaza space at the western parcel
 Taking advantage of the existing shade trees and with a proposed field of white gravel added as a feature, this segment of the open space will serve as a platform for various community activities such as busking, flea markets and tai-chi sessions.
b) 300-seat outdoor amphitheatre at the central space
The outdoor amphitheatre’s design consists of a series of interweaving aluminium screens inspired by the natural lines of a rattan basket. The structure when lit up at night will glow like a lantern. It will be a stage for community performances.
c) Playing field at the eastern parcel
The eastern part of the open space will feature an open green field that can play host to community and sporting events. A F&B pavilion will also be built. Reflecting on his experience in conceptualising the design of the open space, Mr Chan Soo Khian said, “We wanted to create a new space that would capitalise on the unique landscape of its current surroundings. For instance, the existing trees will be retained to provide natural shading.
In addition, a centrepiece element, the outdoor amphitheatre is designed to create a sense of place. The amphitheatre is composed as a continuation of the ground plane and has an intimate relationship with the surrounding landscape.
We were also very conscious of the need to create an atmosphere in the open space that is welcoming and that will become an integral extension of the public realm. In essence, a public gathering space that caters to a range of activities and events that will appeal to the community. The views and feedback from our user groups were thus invaluable in helping us to develop our design.”
Fostering closer community partnerships
In the spirit of the open space being conceived as a community project, the URA organised several dialogues with the consultancy team, stakeholders and end-users, including NParks, the National Arts Council, People’s Association, the Singapore Management University (SMU) and event organiser Street Revolution, to seek their feedback and better understand their programming needs. These inputs were incorporated into the design of the open space.
Corporate sponsorship opportunities are also now being made available to allow the business community to be part of this project. Organisations are welcome to explore opportunities for naming rights and sponsorships for infrastructure such as the outdoor amphitheatre as well as for the finishes and fittings of the F&B pavilion. Interested parties may contact the Garden City Fund at or call 6471 9969 to learn more about other sponsorship opportunities.
Located along Orchard Road and at the gateway into the Arts, Culture, Learning and Entertainment District of Bras Basah.Bugis, the new open space will also be served by three MRT lines. Its accessibility will make it an attractive venue for community events and performances. It is also expected to be become a popular meeting place for visitors from the nearby museums, shoppers from malls just a stone’s throw away, as well as students at SMU and the upcoming School of the Arts.
The open space is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2009.

Source: News Release 26 Mar 2008

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