Unique buildings in Singapore
We may be small, but Singapore is home to a tonne of impressive and unique buildings. After all, our city is known for its highly photographed skyline. But aside from the towering Marina Bay Sands structure or durian-esque Esplanade, you’ll find that there are other one-of-a-kind buildings to explore.
We’re referring to IG-worthy buildings that look like stacked dim sum baskets, “misaligned” residential blocks, and an office that gives off a 2D optical illusion. Read on to discover more:
Table of Contents
- Unique buildings in Singapore
- 1. The Gateway – Sharp exteriors that appear 2D from certain angles
- 2. The Interlace – “Misaligned” Jenga-style residential blocks
- 3. Ferrell Residences – Twisted structure
- 4. Jewel Changi – Rain vortex from the roof
- 5. Supreme Court of Singapore – UFO top
- 6. Ayer Rajah Telephone Exchange – Tetris-like building
- 7. Sky Habitat – 38-storey LEGO-looking condo
- 8. The Hive in NTU – Towering “Dim sum” baskets
1. The Gateway – Sharp exteriors that appear 2D from certain angles
You might’ve done a double take when walking past The Gateway on Beach Road. Before you rub your eyes in disbelief, this building does indeed look like 2 standing paper-thin panels from various angles, thanks to its sharp edges that help create this optical illusion. And fun fact: the architect for this building also designed the Louvre Pyramid in Paris!
Recommended spot to shoot from: Cross the road to the entrance of Duo Galleria and shoot close to the ground with the camera tilted upwards.
2. The Interlace – “Misaligned” Jenga-style residential blocks
The Interlace has certainly got us scratching our heads – how do lifts and staircases operate if the blocks aren’t vertically aligned? The TL;DR version is that each block in this condo is a separate 6-storey building, so there aren’t any connections between the various blocks.
This smart design has helped to maximise the space so residents have plenty of outdoor communal areas to chill at.
Recommended spot to shoot from: Cross the road to the opposite sidewalk to get a full view of the unique structure.
3. Ferrell Residences – Twisted structure
Walk along Bukit Timah Road and you’ll come across a spine-looking building. For the uninitiated, this structure is actually the Ferrell Residences, an exclusive condo that’s 24 storeys tall. What makes this place stand out is its symmetrical curved edges on each floor, seemingly twisting and extending upward. Pretty cool, if you ask us.
Recommended spot to shoot from: Walk to the foot of the overhead bridge that’s right outside the condo and shoot from a low angle to capture the twists in the building.
4. Jewel Changi – Rain vortex from the roof
The Disney100 installation.
Our country’s crown jewel, Jewel Changi has attracted a slew of international attention since being touted as home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. External features were built on the roof to collect and channel rainwater down, forming the 40-m tall Rain Vortex. Its sheer size also makes it the perfect backdrop for light projections, such as the recent Disney100 event.
In case you were wondering how expensive or un-green it is to cool down such a huge space, it’s actually not; chilled water pipes run underneath the floors to cool the air just to human height.
Recommended spot to shoot from: Head to the 2nd or 3rd level of the Shiseido Forest Valley walking trails to get an eye-level frontal view of the waterfall.
5. Supreme Court of Singapore – UFO top
Don’t be alarmed – this building doesn’t belong to extraterrestrials. The flying saucer-shaped structure is actually part of the Supreme Court of Singapore, which houses the Court of Appeal and High Court.
In fact, it is a viewing gallery that is open to the public when you join a free tour of the court. You’ll get to head up and see the interior, enjoy the view of the surrounding City Hall area, and learn about Singapore’s heritage.
Recommended spot to shoot from: Walk to the entrance of the Parliament House to get a full overview of the building.
6. Ayer Rajah Telephone Exchange – Tetris-like building
Set next to Singapore Polytechnic is Singtel’s Ayer Rajah Telephone Exchange at Dover Road, which exudes strong 3D Tetris game vibes. Was it made to resemble an old-school standing telephone? We’ll never know, as little to no information about the design of the building has been found. I guess we’d just have to rely on our imagination.
Recommended spot to shoot from: Walk to the Singapore Polytechnic Graduates’ Guild and shoot from the roundabout.
7. Sky Habitat – 38-storey LEGO-looking condo
Located in the quiet neighbourhood of Bishan, Sky Habitat is a condo resembling dozens of LEGO blocks stacked atop one another. At first glance, this residential complex might induce some acrophobia because the buildings are 38 storeys tall – quite uncommon for a condo. But it’s because of this clever design that abundant light and fresh air circulate in every unit.
Recommended spot to shoot from: Walk from Bishan MRT Exit D and cross the road to the open field.
8. The Hive in NTU – Towering “Dim sum” baskets
Those familiar with the West might have come across The Hive at NTU. These larger-than-life honeycombs or dim sum basket lookalikes are where students gather to hang out and study.
The Hive also sports a unique ventilation system that helps cool the environment naturally without the need for air conditioning or fans – a plus point for sustainability.
Recommended spot to shoot from: Shoot from the sheltered walkway opposite the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences building.
Grab your camera & visit these unique buildings in Singapore
We’ll always love our iconic red-bricked pretty HDB blocks, but Singapore is also home to a slew of cool architecture that’s worth checking out. These buildings aren’t just IG-worthy backdrops for your OOTD shots; they’re also functioning commercial and residential spaces that are used every day.
Behind every quirky building is a team of experts from the Built Environment industry who help plan, design, construct, and maintain the structure. And if you thought that the industry was all tough manual labour, think again. Cool advanced tech like digital design tools with AI, robots and automated fabrication are now used in the creation and maintenance of buildings.
Eco-friendly folks will also be thrilled to know that the industry continually tries to fight climate change with clever designs that have made buildings sustainable in tropical Singapore – some even net zero.
Those who feel inspired by this list and have visions for the next innovative building in Singapore, consider a career in the Built Environment Industry. You might just be able to turn your childhood LEGO structures into reality.
This post was brought to you by the Building and Construction Authority.
Photography by Liu Xing Ying.
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