Unique buildings in Singapore

Unique buildings in Singapore
May 11 10:39 2016

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The Esplanade Theatre’s “Durian” shape is unique enough, but there are other unique buildings in Singapore that you probably didn’t notice.  From the Lego-like Interlace to the 2D skyscraper The Gateway Building and the unexplainable Ayer Rajah Telephone Exchange – Singapore is filled with many of such unique architectural wonders.

Take a day off to visit these distinctive places and take unique Instagram-worthy shots that’ll be the envy of all your followers!

The Gateway Building

The unique Gateway buildings, Photo by: Joan Campderrós-i-Canas

The Gateway buildings in Beach Road (Singapore). Photo by Joan Campderrós-i-Canas

As this building is in close proximity to the Suntec towers and the Concourse, it is often overlooked.  However, if you take a look up though, you will be surprised how anyone can work in it. When viewed from most angles, the Gateway Building appears to be a flat 2D structure. Designed by the US architect I.M. Pei, the building’s trapezoidal shape is a signature design of the architect – also described as ‘two towering cardboard boxes’. Play with optical illusions and take your next Instagram shot here!

The Draycott

The Draycott is an iconic condo that was once deemed "the future of buildings"

The Draycott

If you ever walked past the Draycott condo you would have noticed its towers which look like the exhaust pipes of a space shuttle. Completed in the 1980s, this condo was believed to be the future of buildings. Although the building may seem a little dated compared to other buildings,  the inside of the Draycott convinces with plenty of circular window space and is still iconic. 

Take other Instagram-worthy shots at these forgotten sights!

Ayer Rajah Telephone Exchange

Ayer Rajah Telephone Exchange is a unique Singaporean landmark

Ayer Rajah Telephone Exchange

Built by Singtel, I first thought it is supposed to resemble an old telephone receiver, but somehow nothing really makes sense. Located close to Dover MRT, unless you are studying at Singapore Polytechnic, this building will most likely be news to you. While the building was quite literally used to connect phone calls in the 1970s, today it has become just another office building (although it has no windows!)


Library@Orchard is the first public library in a shopping centre, Orchard Gateway. Photo by Katrina Alana. unique buildings singapore

Library@Orchard hopes to inspire creativity with its unique design, Photo by Katrina Alana

With too many malls, bars, shops, and restaurants competing for attention, the Library@Orchard is often overlooked. Centred around lifestyle, design, and applied arts, the library’s design itself reflects all the knowledge one can find on its shelves. Located in the Orchard Gateway shopping centre, it incorporates features of Design Thinking, which are design-specific cognitive activities that are applied throughout the design process.

Open daily, 11am- 9pm, closed on Public Holidays

The Interlace

"interlace ole schereen singapore uniquely designed buildings"

The Interlace. Taken from Ole Schereen 

Just off Alexandra Road, the Interlace is a truly fascinating building. The seeming randomly stacked Lego-like pieces actually amount to one of the most forward-thinking designs in Singapore. Seen from above, one recognises the hexagonal and shade-giving shape that was conceptualized as an antithesis to traditional tower blocks.  It is also one of the biggest residential developments of the island, covering over 170.000m² of floor area. Designed by the renowned architect Ole Scheeren , The Interlace even won the World Building of the Year title in 2015. That makes it definitely worth a visit!

Stadium MRT

WOHA designed the interesting Stadium MRT. Photo by Jonathan Choe

Stadium MRT. Photo by Jonathan Choe

You might have passed this MRT station before, but if you were busy looking at your phone, you might not have recognised the significance of the station’s designs. Standing at the entrance one can observe a canyon-like structure with an incredibly high ceiling, giving it the feel of a grand hall, rather than an underground station. It almost looks like geological fissure or fault line that has opened up to reveal a secret underworld. It is also one of the few underground MRT stations that is directly connected to daylight. Designed by WOHA Architects, the station even received the President’s Design Award in 2010.

Pearl Bank Apartments

"Many attempts were made to en-bloc Pearl Banks, but it still remains. Photo by Jonathan Lin, unique buildings singapore

Pearl Bank Apartments has a “lucky” horseshoe shape, making it truly unique. Photo by Jonathan Lin

Just around the corner from Outram MRT station, the Pearl Bank Apartments are a high-rise residential development in a circular horseshoe shape. Almost closing the circle, the building’s balconies are all facing each other (at least those on the inside). What might seem like a strange design is actually offering effective ventilation and heat protection for all the residents. It’s complex unit arrangement gives each occupant a unique view of the city, with some having their own external stairwells that only run to their unit (providing them with a “private” entrance!)

After visiting the apartments, explore nearby Tiong Bahru- here’s how!

Some other unique examples:

Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay: Commonly known as the ‘Durian’, the Esplanade is hard to miss for anyone.

The Colonnade: What seems like a normal condo, is actually a conglomeration of prefabricated units that are held together by a structure frame.

Star Vista: Using an open-air concept in its design, the building also hosts dining, office, concerts, and a church, not like the old and beautiful churches in Europe, but a more modern version of them with stages and advanced technology.

Parkroyal on Pickering: Singapore’s prime example of how to incorporate trees into a building.

The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum: Offering insights into prehistoric times, a corner of the building appears be eaten by a dinosaur.

How to get to these unique buildings

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Peter Schimke
Peter Schimke

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