There’s probably no other place more synonymous with Mr Lee Kuan Yew than Tanjong Pagar, a constituency which has been under his charge for 60 years. Most of us would have passed by this place a hundred times but it often takes the ending of an era for us to see things in a different perspective.
1. Was proud to be the gigantic little red dot
Painted red as a throwback to the former Singapore Traffic Police Headquarters, the red dot design museum is now home to a design museum, lifestyle organisations, food and beverage outlets.
The museum’s 3 exhibitions, Our Future, Good Design Today and Art Of Persuasion, showcase more than 1,000 award winning concepts and designs from designers and innovative companies from over 50 countries. Every of these exhibits is a winner of the international Red Dot Design Award, one of the world’s leading and largest design competitions.
Not bad for a little red dot!
28 Maxwell Road, Red Dot Traffic, Singapore 069120
Tel: 6327 8027
Opening hours: 11am to 6pm, Mon to Fri | 11am to 8pm, Sat and Sun | Closed during private events
Cost: $8 per person | $4 for students, children and senior citizens | Free admission during MAAD
2. Journeyed through 50 years of Singapore’s history
Our first generation of leaders has led Singapore on a journey from a third world country to a first within a short span of 30 to 40 years. Today, our cityscape rivals those of New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo. To see our little city in all its glory, head no further than the URA’s Singapore City Gallery where 3 architectural models will offer you an exclusive bird’s eye view over the entire city.
Most of us would be familiar with the Central Area Model sitting at the lobby of the URA building. Did you know that it’s one of the largest architectural models of the world, and also one of the oldest exhibits in the gallery, with parts of it almost as old as Singapore?
To access the Singapore City Gallery, take the escalator from the lobby up to the main entrance on the second storey. A complete tour will take you from the second storey to the third and back down to the second and that’s where you’ll see the Islandwide Model. And just last year, a one-of-its-kind artwork has been added to this space. Some of you might remember autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire from his live performance at the Paragon shopping centre. Famed for his ability to draw detailed cityscapes completely from memory after only a brief observation, Stephen took an hour-long helicopter ride in July last year to view Singapore’s skyline and spent the next 5 days drawing the city on a 4m-by-1m canvas from memory. This artwork is now displayed next to the Islandwide Model.
There are also more than 50 other audiovisual and interactive exhibits in the gallery. Download the brochure here.
45 Maxwell Road, The URA Centre, Singapore 069118
Tel: 6321 8321
Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm | Mon to Sun | Closed on Sun and PH
3. Stood at the pinnacle of our housing success story
Public housing may have become a heated issue in recent years but there’s no argument that we’ve come a long way from the slums in the 1950s.
This achievement is marked by the iconic The Pinnacle@Duxton which stands at the site of one of the earliest public housing projects in Singapore. With an architecture easily rivalling those of private apartments, it also boosts of a 50th storey sky terrace which offers a paranomic view of the city. Though the no food policy is kind of a bummer, it does have plenty of seating around for you to enjoy the breezy view. If you’re lucky, you can even catch a glimpse of fireworks from Sentosa.
Do note that there is entry fee of $5 (payment only by cards compliant with the Singapore Standard of Contactless ePurse Application (CEPAS), such as the EZ-Link card). Please note the house rules.
1 Cantonment Rd, Singapore 080001
Opening hours: 9am to 9pm | Daily | Entry is limited to only 200 members of public per day. At any one time, only 100 members of the public will be allowed.
Cost: $5 per person
4. Glimpsed into the past of a great leader
To find out more about Mr Lee’s Peranakan roots, visit the NUS Baba House, a restored ancestral home of shipping tycoon Wee Bin. One of the few traditional Peranakan shophouses in Singapore with its elaborate original interiors still intact, there’s even a complete collection of furniture, household and decorative items of an early 20th-century household.
With Peranakan themed exhibitions and more than 2,000 Peranakan antiques and decorative items house within its intricate bright blue architecture, you’ll find yourself transported back in time right in the heart of Singapore.
Can’t get enough of these quaint shophouses? Check out the collection at Joo Chiat!
157 Neil Road, Singapore 088883
Tel: 6227 5731
Opening hours: Visits by appointment only. Visitors must sign up in advance for heritage tours which fall on 2pm to 3pm, Mon | 6.30pm to 7.30pm, Tue | 10am to 11am, Thu | 11am to 12pm, Sat
5. Waited for a train that will take me far away
Dutifully connecting Singapore and Malaysia since the 1920s, the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station has long been a landmark in both countries’ history till the ceasing of operations in 2011. But did you know that this railway station was once envisioned to be the starting and ending point of a rail network that would stretch to France, China and onwards to the Trans-Siberian network? Designed as a gateway to Asia, you’ll see four white marble statues standing on the exterior of its front façade, each representing the four sources of wealth of Singapore and Malaya – Agriculture, Commerce, Transport and Industry. In the main waiting hall is a 3 storey high vaulted space and donning its walls are panels depicting historically significant economic activities in Malaya such as rice planting, rubber tapping, shipping activities and tin mining.
Since its closure in 2011, there have been talks on turning it into an event space or museum. In the meantime, if you’re keen on visiting, the station will be opened to the public on all public holidays, and during ad hoc events such as fashion shows and flea markets. Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated website publicising such events, so visiting on public holidays is probably a better bet.
30B Keppel Road, Singapore 089059
Opening hours: 9am to 6pm | Opened only on public holidays
Date timer: ~ 5 hours
“I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There’s nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.”
– Mr Lee Kuan Yew
*Image credits: respective official websites and Google images