Saturday, January 21, 2012

Galleries Galore Part 1: Singapore City Gallery (Now with Video)

When you see this sign, what is the first thing that comes into your mind? Maybe you'll think, it's another boring museum. Maybe a gallery full of words and nothing else. Well, you're wrong. The Singapore City Gallery is a free public gallery that talks about Singapore's urban planning. It may sound boring to you, but trust me, this place is anything but boring.

In fact, when you step inside the buidling, which is the URA Centre, the headquarters for Urban Redevelopment Authority, you may come across an exhibition about architecture and buildings. You're not at the gallery yet. Instead, that's just a temporary exhibition that will change from time to time.

You'll also come across this model of Singapore's city centre made out of wood and plastic which is totally cool and interesting. It will make you think, "How do they do that?". I for one don't know how they make it but all I know is that the architects and the model makers have done a good job making this scale model. Also, try to find where Marina Bay Sands and Suntec City is from this picture. Try it!

To reach the gallery, you'll need to ride on the escalator or the lift up to the 2nd level and just turn left to get in. You may have to sign in at the reception counter but it's nothing. They're not trying to steal your personal information or anything. Also, do get yourself the gallery brochure which is also available at the reception. Once you have entered the gallery, the first exhibit is a 270 degree panoramic theatre showcasing the lives of Singaporeans and also the hustle and bustle of the city centre. You can also play with the touchscreen displays just like the one in the picture above.

After checking out the panoramic theatre, immediately you'll have to climb a flight of stairs to reach the 2nd level. It's quite an interesting layout and from that level, you'll see the aerial view of the central area model. If you wanna see it up close, you gotta wait and see all the other exhibits first before going down and getting a closer look. On the left, you'll get to see a long board about how Singapore overcame challenges and how Singapore transformed into a modern metropolis within a small amount of time.

Right in front, you'll come across the map of the concept plan and the master plan. These plans were created by the URA so that in the future, the public will know what places and what buildings will there be in Singapore. There is even a touchscreen display of a map which will let you search for whatever property and buildings you might want to search for. You might also want to type in your address to find how your house looks like on the map.

When you walk in further, you'll see big displays of people talking to you. No, they're not interacting with you in real time. But, they're actually architects and city planners that shape Singapore's physical landscape. The people that come up on the screen will talk about how convenient to go to whatever places if the planners were to do this and that. With the ideas, city planners can make that a reality and provide convenience for these people. So basically, they're saying that everyone has a part to play to shape Singapore.

This is my favourite part of the City Gallery apart from the central area model exhibit. This is a game in which they will test you on your city planning skills. Basically, you have to listen to the guy and use the touchscreen to drag and drop buildings and infrastructure to build your own city. You can't just drag and drop like that, you need to follow some requirements like making it convenient or something like that. This is a great game to play with your friends as it's also a multiplayer game. That above, is a picture of my own city. (They didn't provide roads).

Other exhibits in the gallery talk about sustainability efforts, history of architecture in Singapore, urban design and the districts of Singapore. They're definitely worth checking out especially the exhibit at the Study Area. Here is where photos of the past and present of some locations of Singapore like the Marina Centre and Chinatown can be found. In the Urban Design exhibit, there is even one screen where you'll swipe with your hand to reveal the 'new' within the old. It's totally cool.

And now the grand finale when you walk down the stairs, it's the central area model. 

Look at that perfect creation. It looks exactly like the central area of Singapore. Majority of the beildings look exactly like the real life counterparts with the windows, the doors and most importantly, the architecture. The buidlings are beautifully crafted by the model makers. It's too bad I can't walk along the blue 'sea' but otherwise, it's great and I applaud the model makers for making it look life-like. After this, it's the end of the gallery and you can check out the temporary exhibitions at the first level. Oh, and definitely check out the model of the entire Singapore at level 1 too.

At the first level, there is a model of the whole of Singapore. May not be as detailed as the one in the gallery but it's great as all buildings including my house (and yours) are in that model.

The Singapore City Gallery is located along Maxwell Road near the Chinatown area. It's also located next to the iconic Maxwell Food Centre. This is a great place for a family trip and also a great place to hang out with friends. The Gallery is absolutely free and it's open from Mondays to Saturdays from 9 to 5. It's also located in the URA Centre so if you have some parking to pay for or have an appointment here, do stop by the gallery. Then, you can have lunch at the Maxwell Food Centre.

The Galleries Galore Series

Part 2: HDB Gallery
Part 3: IRAS Gallery
Part 4: Marina Bay City Gallery

Getting Here

Bus services available: 80, 145 (bus stop along South Bridge Road)

Nearest MRT Station: EW15 Tanjong Pagar MRT Station (East West Line)


View Larger Map


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  2. If you're interested, here's a visual comparison of Singapore with other world cities: Singapore vs World Cities


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