The Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay, a great Singapore building

One of the most string things about Singapore is its architecture.

The Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay
The Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay

Colonial mansions, Gothic and Neo-classical churches, Georgian and Victorian public buildings, modern high rise towers, twenty-first century creations that, as yet, defy classification and, of course, its very own native sons, those exquisite shop houses, Singapore has them all. Among this panoply of great buildings, there are, however, some absolute stand-outs.

The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is, arguably, Singapore’s most eye-catching modern landmark and on its commanding Marina Bay site, at the mouth of the Singapore River, it can’t be missed from land or sea.

Designed co-operatively by London-based Michael Wilford and Partners and DP Architects of Singapore, it consists of two great glass cones clad with thousands of little aluminum sunshades. Some liken the gleaming multi-faceted edifice to the eyes of a giant fly, others to a Durian.

It was purpose built as Singapore’s centre for performing arts and under those enormous domes are; a 1,600 seat concert hall with state of the art acoustics, a 2000 seat theatre modeled on the classical opera houses of Europe, a public library devoted to the arts scene, an intimate 250 capacity recital studio, a small 220 seat theatre for experimental theatre and dance presentations, an exhibition space, Jendela, or window, in Malay, with a panorama on Marina Bay, two outdoor venues, the Waterfront Stage and the Stage @ Powerhouse, for free avant garde performances, a large rooftop garden terrace, leisure courtyards, open spaces and a mall with retail outlets and eateries.

The 600 million dollar centre opened on 12 October 2002. On July 5, 2005, it seized the world stage when 117th session of the IOC opened here with concert showcasing Singapore’s multicultural heritage.

And, yes, it does look like a giant Durian, tossed casually down among the skyscrapers of Marina Bay


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