Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

June 27, 2008

Blending the old and new

Filed under: General,Property Add Value — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:16 am

SEAMLESSLY merging two buildings into one, while balancing the old with the new, is the challenge facing the architectural team behind the $320-million National Art Gallery, set to open in 2013.

On Wednesday, it was announced that France’s Studio Milou Architecture, in collaboration with Singapore’s CPG Consultants, won the bid to design the gallery which is to be housed in the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings, both of which front the Padang.

The museum will showcase South-east Asian and Singapore art.

‘Finding a way to keep the character of the buildings while making it a modern art gallery is the task ahead,’ Mr Jean-Francois Milou, 54, lead partner of Studio Milou Architecture, tells Life!.

Mr Lee Soo Khoong, 48, CPG’s senior vice president and the appointed local architect for the project, adds: ‘The overall result must have harmony, grace and beauty.’

Then there’s the challenge of turning two buildings into one.

To do this, Mr Milou is linking the two historically significant buildings at the roof level with a linear draped canopy and a glass ceiling.

He explains that the mesh-like canopy will filter out sunlight entering the rooftop, but there will still be natural light coming in.

‘I’m more worried about too much sunlight coming in, rather than too little,’ he adds.

The two buildings will also be linked at the new basement, which will serve as the entrance to the art gallery.

‘Visitors will enter here before they proceed to the exhibition space,’ he says. The basement will house a gallery shop and ticketing counters.

Mr Milou is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This is his first major project in Asia, although he has worked as a consultant for Unesco and for the French government on projects in India, Nepal and Indonesia.

Notable museum projects done by his firm in his home country include the Burial Mounds Museum in Bougon and the National Automobile Museum in Mulhouse.

The firm also recently won an architectural competition to readapt a 19th-century building into a cultural and leisure centre.

Local partner CPG Consultant is no stranger to conservation work. Some of its projects include the National Museum of Singapore, The Arts House at Old Parliament House and the Singapore Art Museum.

The design of the new art gallery is getting strong interest from the arts community.

Mr Milenko Prvacki, 67, dean of the faculty of fine arts at Lasalle College of Fine Arts, hopes the architectural team will ‘use creativity to transform the spaces and not let the historical baggage that comes with each space constrain their designs’.

Visual artist Jeremy Sharma, 30, hopes the exhibition space will be big enough to accommodate big works so that artists can play with the space.

Mr Milou assures that this will be done.

Key features of the two buildings such as the facades, the main staircases, the main courtroom in the Supreme Court and the surrender chamber in City Hall, will be kept.

The architect says he will also retain the existing finishes and ambience of the two buildings. The only big change he will make is in City Hall, where the third and fourth storeys will be combined into a double volume exhibition space.

The art gallery will have about 10,000 sq m of exhibition space, ‘where people can wander about on their own’, he says.

When completed, he hopes the gallery will appeal to people of all ages.

He says: ‘Those of my generation will be able to see the complexity and elegance of the project, while the young generation will be impressed by its design.’

Source : Straits Times – 30 May 2008

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