The Best Kept Secrets of Singapore

The Best Kept Secrets of Singapore

Singapore is an amazing island with architecture that has many twists and turns but is famous for its vast green spaces and is noted as one of the most sustainable places in the world. The real secrets of Singapore is the traditional architecture that has managed to resist the need to give its space for the modern phenomenal architecture that has been created in its face.

Not to be taken lightly is the bold architecture that emerges from the small island to take center place in the world of the most innovative and shocking designs in architecture.

Each one holds its own secrets too within its walls that are not always well known by travellers. Today I will touch on only 10 of its most iconic buildings that are currently in Singapore. Some of these have been on the list for decades due to their out of this world designs.

Starting with the Marina Bay Sands futuristic design it is one of the most if not most iconic buildings in Singapore and one of the top 40 largest hotels in the world. It looks like a ship being held up by three buildings. This is what we see from the outside but inside is a super casino, a shopping mall, a modern art museum, six expo halls, a theatre, the largest ballroom in Southeast Asia as well as 2361 guest rooms topped with the striking infinity pool on its roof top. Unfortunately though, if you want to try out the pool, you will have to shell out the dollars to use it as it is for guests only.

Not well known things about the Marina Bay are that the casino was slated to cost 3.8 billion dollars but far exceeded its costs and ended up costing 8 billion dollars at the end making it the most expensive standalone casino in the world.

There are also secret rooms and suites that are not available for the public to be booked. I am sure this is for people that have a net worth far above mine or maybe an elusive coupon I can get.

Another interesting fact is that the infinity pool holds 1, 423, 314.83 litres of water or 376000 gallons of water. If I was to drink a gallon of water everyday, it would take a millineum to drink that much and of course I would already not be alive to finish it.

Last secret is that there is an underground labyrinth under the hotel called the Heart of the House. Only  workers can access this area and is not available to the public and is located deeper than the subway nearby. It has a wardrobe concierge, lockers, and  the best buffet to ensure the staff are ready for work.

Next on our list is the exotic Esplenade which is an amphitheater and concert hall. Shaped like the durian fruit that smells like stinky feet, its roofline is covered with a honeycomb exterior. The honeycomb design adds to the allure of the building. Home to many amazing cultural events and world concerts, it stands out with its iconic design.

The one secret of the Esplenade is that many people think that the view from the Marina Bay Sands cannot be beat but there is secret rooftop on this building that affords a majestic view of Singapore as well that can be enjoyed too.

The next iconic building is the Interlace. This architecture consists of 31 identical 6 floor buildings that are stacked and interlaced together. It won building of the year in 2015 at the World Architecture Festival for its optimization the passing of light and air but also the design which encompasses the gardens that are encased within its hexagon design of the arrangement of the buildings.

Within the buildings it houses a running track measuring about 1/6 of mile and has rooftop gardens and benches including solar panels and natural ventilation features. It earned Gold Plus designation from BCA Green Mark, Singapore’s sustainability rating agency for buildings.

Often called the container building by locals as it looks like Lego stack together. One of its secrets is that some residents often lose their way around the quirky complex and its curvy design. No way I am living there, I get lost in a straight line let along a curvy complex.

The luxurious Park Royal Hotel located in Singapore is in the heart of the financial center is an iconic building that is highlighted but an exquisite garden among the concrete structures that surround it. It has received many awards for its sustainable design and its concept of hotel in a garden is a multifaceted and complex building design that captures solar energy and rainwater.

It has had seven years of being Asia’s leading green hotel. This is part due to eco-friendly features with its four sky gardens that uses Singapore’s first zero-energy system using solar power, rain sensors, water conservation, edible gardens, plastic free, and more. The rainwater harvesting system helps to grow the gardens and saves more than 6 million litres of water or approx. 1.6 million gallons of water per year.

There is a hidden rooftop Sky View garden that is next to a lounge where herbs and organic produce is grown and used for an authentic dining experience. I wonder how hidden this really is…challenge accepted.

Another interesting and set of iconic buildings is the Pinnacle. This is actually a government housing project finished in 2009 that created a lot of controversy with its elevated costs. This award winning building consists of seven buildings of 50 floors each connected by a skybridge with the most amazing views from its apartments. Consider the tallest public residential building in the city it is also the most expensive. Definitely an interesting design and architecturally complex.

The secret of this building is that you can purchase a ticket to view the sunset from its 50th floor but only 200 people a day are allowed at a time in this area. So you must plan ahead.

Next the Gateway Towers built in the early 90’s still present an amazing feet of architecture. These buildings with a unique design.  The secret to these towers is that depending on your angle these towers have a bizarre bidimensional look that look like a gateway and from another angle look like standing panes of glass.

These office buildings create a unique optical illusion that is amazing to see. Designed by the same architect who created the Louvre Pyramid and the National Gallery of Art’s East Wing in Washington DC, the world renowned I. M. Pei has once again surprised us.

The School of Art Design and Media is an amazing design within itself. The concept is that students can create in a creative building and grounds. The design integrates the building with the green space around by creating grass fields that cover the whole school. The roofs are aesthetically pleasing and useful to walk on and sit on but also insulate the building and harvest the rainwater and keep the building cool as well.  The irrigation system is activated by the climate and saves water and light as a result. My school looked like a factory and did not inspire much creativity in me and if there was grass on the roof it was for all the wrong reasons. My question is who mows the grass on the roof or do they have goats or sheep to eat it down? Could not find any information on that one. Maybe that is its well kept secret.

As an honorable mention,this design then gives a nod to the Tree house building vertical green design which uses greenery to be sustainable as well.

The Henderson Wave Bridge built in 2008 is the highest pedestrian walkway in Singapore located more than 100 ft above a busy road and connects to two large city parks. That sounds dangerous on its own. It is 900 ft wave looking form is used by runners, walkers, and nature lovers but is most impressive at night when it is illuminated by LED lighting.

The interesting thinks about the bridge is that is has steel arches but the curved ribs of the bridge are actually slats of Balau wood, a dense hardwood used in heavy construction only found in southeast Asia. The bridge also has hidden recesses and shell like niches where people can sit and enjoy the scenery from. Not sure this would work well in other countries. Not sure I could relax enough to enjoy hidden niches.

A most notable iconic architecture feat is the Gardens by the Bay. To me they look fake but once again architects have managed to create art form through design. In 2006, there was a world contest with more than 70 designs. The futuristic garden with supertrees that reach 16 floors and two enormous greenhouses won the project which would be in a large reclaimed area on the banks of the Singapore river. The greenhouses themselves simulate different climates and the project has spectacular night lighting that is very impressive. It is a sustainable project which reuses water, saves energy, and protects the ecosystems within.

These features include hidden solar panels, underfloor cooling, and heat reflective glass.  The secret to the project is that there is an electric generator that runs off of horticultural waste that is burned to create fuel.

The Supertrees act as an air exhaust, house solar panels, and have thriving vertical garden and one unknown fact is one acts as a chimney stack. This is to expel non toxic fumes created from the biomass boiler that uses plant waste and creates fuel to run a steam turbine.

It is hard to imagine that this horticultural destination was once sea, then sand and soggy soil. 

Reflections is a residential condo complex that is noted as one of Singapore bay’s iconic buildings. They have a futuristic design that has six tall towers with gardens on top with a view of the open sea and Sentosa Island.

This complex is not always appreciated and some have said it looks like a meteor hit the buildings but like many say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think the fortune favors the bold and this is a bold design for sure.

It was designed but Daniel Libeskind who also created the World Trade Center Memorial masterplan.

I know you are all looking forward to experiencing this unique island of Singapore and its varied treasures of architecture both new and old. It is home to some of the most amazing and complex buildings that work to also be sustainable while being unique and beautiful. I look forward to discovering more of its secrets while visiting this port. I am sure I will have to download my camera after taking all the pictures to capture these architectural gems of Singapore.

From honeycombs to treehouses to gardens and more, Singapore is our next amazing destination.

Stay Curious Nomads!

Back to blog