Thursday, 2 July 2015

Singapore's 69 National Monuments

Jurong Town Hall 'a baby' among national monuments
The exterior of the Jurong Town Hall taken from a vantage point on the 22nd floor of the JTC Summit on 2 June 2015

Jurong Town Hall, which was gazetted a national monument yesterday, turned 40 this year.

Officially opened in 1975, it is a mere "baby" among the 69 national monuments, which include the 180-year-old Jamae Mosque in South Bridge Road, and colonial buildings like the former Parliament House, which was built in 1827.

Hence, some were surprised by the National Heritage Board's (NHB's) decision to designate the former headquarters of the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) a national monument.

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40 years since its opening, Jurong Town Hall is now Singapore's 69th national monument
The Modernist building was opened 40 years ago back in June 2, 1975, prominently located on a hill overlooking the Jurong industrial estate

Towering in the busy district of Jurong East, the Jurong Town Hall stands as an iconic landmark as a former headquarters of the then Jurong Town Corporation, which spearheaded the nation's whirlwind path towards industrialization with the development of Singapore's first industrial estate.

As of June 2, Jurong Town Hall joins the growing list of preserved post-war buildings as Singapore's 69th National Monument.

Constructed between May 1971 and March 1974, the building is recognised as an important architectural and historical symbol of Singapore's economic and industrial progress, and the gazetting of Jurong Town Hall will ensure that its intrinsic features will be accorded the highest level of legal protection.

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Jurong Town Hall
A landmark that is symbolic of the nation’s industrialisation, Jurong Town Hall was the administrative headquarters of the Jurong Town Corporation

A landmark that is symbolic of the nation’s industrialisation, Jurong Town Hall was the administrative headquarters of the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC). Counter to what its name may intuitively suggest, its name titles it as the “Hall” of “Jurong Town”, rather than the “Town Hall” of “Jurong”.

Jurong Town Hall's design is the winning entry of an architectural design competition conducted in 1968 that was awarded to Architects Team 3. It is interesting to note that architect Mr Lim Chong Keat was a key member on this team; he was also on the winning Malayan Architects Co-Partnership team for the design of the Singapore Conference Hall & Trade Union House.

The brutalist structure consists of two five-storey horizontal blocks of unequal length which are connected by bridge floors. Its strategic siting atop a slope in the heart of Jurong Town enables it to overlook the entire estate, with its crown, a 58-metre tall clock tower (then considered to be one of the biggest digital clocks in Southeast Asia), displaying the time for all workers and residents to see. The clock tower is rumoured to have been inspired by the work of Japanese American artist and landscape architect, Mr Isamu Noguchi. The building's splayed walls further emphasize and articulate a sense of supremacy, as visitors approach the structure constantly looking up at it.

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NHB: Restoration of 3 National Monuments
Singapore's 68 National Monuments

Singapore's 69 National Monuments
Singapore's 70 National Monuments
Singapore's 71 National Monuments
Singapore's 72 National Monuments