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History of the Esplanade in 60 Seconds

Picture of Amani Sharif
Freelance Writer
Updated: 20 June 2017
Near the mouth of the Singapore River, the Esplanade is a 60,000 square meter structure dedicated to performing arts. Functioning for 15 years, the venue has been home to 34,000 shows and hosted 24 million guests. The Esplanade is one of the busiest entertainment centers in the world, with exhibitions that cover a kaleidoscope of arts.

In 1989, reacting to a lack of arts based venues, the Singaporean Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts pitched the concept of the perfect site for art exhibitions and performances. 1992 saw the official naming of the center, ‘The Esplanade’.

The interesting design for the venue was created by two firms, DP Architects in Singapore and Michael Wilford & Partners, who presented plans in 1994 and 1995. In 1996, the official construction of the venue commenced in the place of ‘The Satay’, a popular venue for locals at the time. Fast forward to 2001 and Esplanade was completed and officially opened the year after.

Locally, the venue is known as the “Big Durians” because the design – glass domes with aluminum sunshades – resembles a durian fruit. The interior is divided into several sections: A concert hall; theater; recital studio; theater studio and a performance arts library. Each of these facilities is able to hold a significant number of people, with the theater comfortably seating 2,000.

As for activity, the Esplanade is never quiet, with free shows and workshops held year round. It is home to the Pesta Raya the Malay Festival of Arts and the Mosaic Musical Series, featuring artists who are at the top of their game.

This is not to say that the Esplanade is for big events only, as the venue is designed to provide fun for the whole family. There are jewelry boutiques such as Alexandria Maison and plenty of restaurants including DJ Bakery and Harry’s. Visitors will find constant family based events and activities for all ages. Don’t miss this futuristic arts and culture venue.