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Art Deco exterior | © Francesca Saracao/Unsplash
Art Deco exterior | © Francesca Saracao/Unsplash

Singapore's Art Deco Architecture In 6 Buildings

Picture of Prianka Ghosh
Updated: 30 September 2016
The architectural style of Art Deco is recognizable by its streamlined aesthetic; influenced by aircraft, ships and racing cars, the style uses a lot of portholes as well as a mix of curved and straight lines. In Singapore, this style began to appear after World War I and later morphed into the Streamline Moderne style, which is essentially the Post-Art Deco movement. Here are six buildings in Singapore that beautifully showcase this Art Deco aesthetic.

Asia Insurance Building

When the building first open in December 1955, the Asia Insurance Building was the tallest building in Southeast Asia – hard to believe, considering the immensity of the skyscrapers in present day Singapore. Today, the building is the Ascott Raffles Place Singapore, a luxurious hotel.

The Asia Insurance Building, 2 Finlayson Green, Singapore,

 

The Cathay Building

The Cathay Building originally opened in 1939. When the building was slated for redevelopment in 2000, the government stipulated that the new building would need to save the facade of the original as it is gazetted as a national monument.

The Cathay Building, 2 Handy Rd, Singapore,

© Calvin Teo/Flickr

The Cathay Building | © Calvin Teo/Flickr


Capitol Theatre

The Art Deco sign of the Capitol Theatre faces into Capitol Piazza. Today it is part of the much larger Capitol Plaza complex that includes shops and residences.

Capitol Theatre, 13 Stamford Rd, Singapore,

© Jacklee/Flickr

The Capitol Theatre | © Jacklee/Flickr

 

Tiong Bahru Housing Development Board Blocks

The Tiong Bahru flats were the first public housing estate in Singapore when they were built in the 1930s by the now-defunct Singapore Improvement Trust. Unlike later HDB blocks, it is clear that a significant amount of effort went into the design of these aesthetically pleasing homes, that feature elements of both Streamline Moderne and Straits Settlements architecture with elements such as rounded balconies, flat rooftops and spiral staircases.

Tiong Bahru block, 26 Tiong Bahru Rd, 26, Singapore

© Dickson Phua/Flickr

Tiong Bahru HDB blocks | © Dickson Phua/Flickr

 

© Jonathan Lin/Flickr

Tiong Bahru HDB blocks | © Jonathan Lin/Flickr

 

© Payton Chung/Flickr

Tiong Bahru HDB blocks | © Payton Chung/Flickr

 

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

Once Singapore’s rail link to Malaysia and the rest of the world, Tanjong Pagar Railway Station ceased operations in 2011. Currently the site is closed, although it will be reopened in 2018 with slight renovations as the Cantonment MRT station.

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, 30 Keppel Rd, Singapore

© shankar s./Flickr

Ticket office at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station | © shankar s./Flickr

 

© Lionel Leong/Flickr

Interior of the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station | © Lionel Leong/Flickr


© Walter Lim/Flickr

Entrance to the Panjong Pagar Railway Station | © Walter Lim/Flickr

 

Parkview Square

Parkview Square – the imposing building that is nevertheless affectionately referred to as the Gotham City Building – was actually built in 2002, however, the architects were heavily influenced by the Art Deco style. Although the offices in the tower have modern amenities, the decor, as can be seen in the building’s lounge, also follows a gorgeous Art Deco motif.

Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Rd, Singapore,

© Fechi Fajardo/Flickr | © Deckuf/Flickr

The Gotham City Building as locals affectionately call Parkview Square | © Fechi Fajardo/Flickr / The interior of Parkview Square | © Deckuf/Flickr

 

The fact is, there are many Art Deco and Art Deco-influenced buildings in Singapore. One of the easiest ways to identify them is from their exterior, as one of the traits of Art Deco in Singapore at the time was to print the year of construction on the building’s facade. Geyland is the best neighborhood for Art Deco spotting, but Bugis and its surrounding areas often have many buildings that follow this striking yet elegant style.

© Prianka Ghosh

One can often spot an Art Deco building by its construction date on the facade | © Prianka Ghosh

 

© Nicolas Lannuzel/Flickr

Building in the Art Deco style | © Nicolas Lannuzel/Flickr