Singapore is home to some of the most dynamic and diverse architectural styles. A walk through Singapore's central districts reveals plenty of heritage buildings with histories dating back to the British colonial era. These structures, built mostly in the European Neoclassical and Palladian styles, are still standing and in use as offices, restaurants, and boutique establishments.
Many of Singapore’s colonial buildings were the ideas of some of the world’s most renowned architects, including George Coleman who built the Armenian Church of St. Gregory and the first Anglican Church in Singapore, the old St. Andrews Cathedral, which was eventually demolished and rebuilt due to severe damage from lightning strikes (although the rebuilt version of the Cathedral still stands today). Coleman Street is named after George Coleman, and runs past the site of his former residence, Coleman House.
Characterised by its clock tower, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall was originally Singapore’s town hall. Inspired by the Victorian revivalism movement, engineer John Bennet conceived of a new building in 1862 for assemblies, local operas, and theatre . The building was the first in Singapore to carry the Italianate style, reflected in its windows. Its function changed to a hospital during the Second World War. Post-war, it once again became a performance venue. In 2010, the building underwent major renovation to preserve its architecture, and is has now reopened its doors to audiences and performers from around the world.
The National Museum of Singapore was originally conceived as a museum and library and housed a mix of the region’s cultural and historic artefacts. Later on it became a prominent place for zoological collections. Balustrades in the building were constructed in a distinctly London style that closely resembles Royal Albert Hall. The museum retains its British architectural style, and was extended in stages over the 1980s through to the 2000s. Today it is complemented by an ultra-modern glass structure and a glass passage that connects the old and new buildings.
The original foundation stone of the Supreme Court, laid in 1937, was up to then the largest ever laid in Singapore’s history. Built by architect Frank Ward, the building still stands as a proud landmark along one of the city’s most prominent gardens, the Padang, where several of the country’s National Day parades were held. The courthouse features 18 Corinthian pillars that front the building’s spacious interiors and high ceilings, as was the style.
Singapore’s rich repository of colonial architecture extends beyond public buildings and prominent private residences. The country has plenty of black and white bungalows, built before and up to the 1930s. Several of these spacious houses are still use as residences and trendy commercial offices. They’re easy to spot with their two-tone exteriors and black and white wooden blinds that form part of the facade.