City in a Garden: Downtown Singapore

In Downtown Singapore, an ambitious development is taking the level of luxurious waterfront living to new heights

By Stephanie Wilson


While in the past, cities sprung up in any haphazard way, slowly but surely sprawling outward and upward as the demand and population grew, cities today are modern marvels, having been planned by ambitious government sectors. Singapore, the capital of the island nation of the same name, is one such place. Since Singapore is the second most densely populated nation in the world, it is no wonder that the government has taken the design of its capital very seriously. Large-scale land reclamation has been a part of the small nation since the 1960’s, allowing for the expansion of commercial and residential areas. One such area is Marina Bay, an artificial body of water that was created when land reclamation formed Marina Center and Marina South. In 2005, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore announced the Marina Bay area would be home to a new mixed-use development, allowing this blossoming region to attract attention on a worldwide scale.

Being compared to Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, Canary Wharf in London, and La Defense in Paris, the Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) is doing more than just changing the skyline of downtown Singapore. This development is providing more than 2.5 million-square-feet of world-class office, retail, dining, and landscaped public spaces on Singapore’s Marina Bay waterfront, creating a live-work-play haven for those who crave a downtown lifestyle in a city known for being hot-both figuratively and literally.

 The crown jewel of Marina Bay Residences is the Über Penthouse, claiming more than 11,000-square-feet in a country where space is a luxury.

Paul Katz, Senior Partner at Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, the team in charge of the architecture, says, “The main emphasis for this project is the repositioning of the central part of Singapore. This [development] will be in the best location of the newly planned city. The whole idea is to anticipate what will be needed for years ahead in this global market.”

The main need for a city like Singapore is space, and shelter from the heat and rain, which at times can be overwhelming, due to the proximity to the equator. Designed as a “City in a Garden,” Marina Bay offers three world-class gardens along the promenade, showcasing local fauna and flora in a tranquil, waterfront environment. As Katz says, “Singapore is a beautifully planned city… Even though it is very hot, because of the landscaping, the outdoor spaces can be very pleasant. The environment here is for pedestrians, despite the fact that this is a very modern and busy city.” But soaring temperatures and rainy season are also factors in the equation, leading to many of the area’s attractions being brought to a subterranean level. MBFC features a beautiful central park, under which is a retail facility that connects to the existing subway line and all the buildings around the MBFC.

Each aspect of the MBFC is designed to take advantage of its seaboard location, and of its downtown locale. Every building in this development is being designed to have a strong impact on the skyline. As the sun sets, temperatures cool, allowing for nighttime activities to flourish. The buildings will all be lit from below, allowing for a dramatic statement at night coming from Singapore’s new financial district.

The project, being headed up by three of Asia’s most experienced and trusted property developers (Cheung Kong Holdings, Hong Kong Land and Keppel Land), is also home to Marina Bay Residences, a 55-story luxury condominium tower.

Katz says, “The guiding principal here is to create the best residential address in Asia.” The residential tower sits on MBFC’s northeast corner, granting unparalleled views of the skyline, marina, and the Straits of Singapore. Orientated to minimize cross-viewing from the two office towers, the residential tower is a crystalline form, sculpted and chamfered to reflect light and provide a sense of depth to the surfaces. Virtually every one of the 428 well-appointed apartments, consisting of one- to four-bedroom residences, has a balcony. “The idea here is to have apartments that truly anticipate the lifestyle of the future. The building is very modern, and relies on the most advanced technology. The outdoor spaces and balconies are integrated into the living areas, so there will always be water views.” These balconies do more than just provide outdoor space; they provide shade from the intense sun, as well as help block the view into the apartments from nearby towers.

And who wouldn’t want a glimpse at all that Marina Bay Residences has to offer? The well-appointed building is sprinkled with amenities, which includes a multitude of sky-lounges and common spaces. “In Singapore, there is a scarcity of land,” explains Kan Kum Wah, MBFC’s Head of Residential Marketing. “But Marina Bay Residences is able to boast three separate floors of common amenities.” The 7th floor will feature a 50-meter lap pool, barbeque areas, a water sports bar and gym. On the 27th floor, a sky garden will host sophisticated sports such as yoga and Pilates, as well as be home to private Jacuzzis. On the 47th floor, a sunset deck will offer awe-inspiring views, which on clear days can stretch as far as Indonesia. The sky-high lounge will also offer luxury dining, meeting rooms and entertainment options.
The crown jewel of Marina Bay Residences is the Über Penthouse, claiming more than 11,000-square-feet in a country where space is a luxury. The penthouse stretches over three floors, and includes a private rooftop terrace with a 20-meter swimming pool. The penthouse will feature five bedrooms, two private elevator lobbies, a French fitted kitchen, marble floors, and a range of luxurious appointments and fittings. Kan says, “We recently sold the penthouse for the record price of $27 million Sing (around $17.5 million US).”

The success of the Über Penthouse prompted the group to appoint nine additional penthouse opportunities ranging in size from 3,606 to 4,672-square-feet. Katz explains, “There are a number of different types of apartments, offering a full range, from smaller units to luxury penthouses. My personal favorites are the more luxurious ones that face directly onto Marina Bay waterfront, and have an elevator opening right into the apartment. There you get to see the street-life of the waterfront, and you will be able to look at the water and at the constant activity along the promenade.” Marina Bay Residences offers 80 three-bedroom residences, 38 four-bedroom, 174 two-bedroom and 126 one-bedroom apartments, priced from US $1000 to around US $2,200 per square foot.

Launched for sale in December of 2006, Marina Bay Residences took the real estate market of Singapore by storm, selling out every residence in only three days! “We catered to professionals and high-value individuals who have the money and intention to buy,” explains Kum Wah. “We created a certain, ‘You want it, but you don’t need it,’ environment.”

But don’t fret: if you missed out on Phase 1 of the residences at Marina Bay, there is a Phase 2 in the works. “Our plans are not finalized yet, but for Phase 2, it’s likely we will be able to accommodate another office tower and a residential development,” says Kan.

We can expect the Marina Bay Financial Centre to redefine and rejuvenate downtown Singapore, bringing added luxury and economy to a city that is repositioning itself as the financial center of Southeast Asia.