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SINGAPORE – Lisbon turned its water-facing Tejo Power Station into an energy museum while London converted its Bankside Power Station into the world famous art museum Tate Modern.
By the mid-2020s, Singapore’s Pasir Panjang Power District could host concepts such as a drones race course, a hobby factory run by seniors, a hotel, residences, giant slides or even a floating pool perched along the coast.
The ideas, put forth by members of the public and architects, are now on exhibit at the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Maxwell Road Centre, following a call for ideas to re-imagine the place last year.
The waterfront land parcel will be released for development, possibly through a tender, sometime next year, said Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong on Monday (Jan 13).
The authorities also launched a Request for Information (RFI) exercise for private developers and other interested parties to weigh in and give their input on the feasibility of the site’s redevelopment.
Ms Claire Chan, URA’s director of physical planning in Central West Singapore, said the RFI broadly captures three key concepts derived from the public’s submissions.
It spells out that potential developers should make use of the existing open spaces within the district’s 15ha area while respecting its existing structures and heritage, that public spaces around the site and along the waterfront will be accessible to the public, and that the district will be plugged into the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront network spanning Pasir Panjang to Marina East.
The power station district, which comprises two red-brick main station buildings, round oil tanks and ancillary buildings, is the size of about 21 football fields. It will be one of the first few sites to be developed along the Greater Southern Waterfront.
At the launch of the exhibition, Mr Wong said the authorities will further refine the planning parameters of the site following the RFI exercise, which closes in April.
He said: “This is a much more involved process than what would typically happen where URA decides the parameters and then we’ll just go straight to a land tender. But I think it is worthwhile taking some time to go through such a process. It is part of our ‘Singapore Together’ movement to involve more Singaporeans in shaping our nation’s future.”
He added: “Redevelopment for Singapore does not mean having to tear down or demolish all our old buildings. Here, we can keep these historical buildings and give the old power stations a new lease of life.”
A total of 10 submitted concepts picked up cash prizes worth up to $3,000.
The entries were judged by a range of architectural, planning and heritage professionals.
Among the winners were a group of graduates from the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
The group designed a site that turns Power Station A into a mixed-use hydro hub, and adds low-rise residences, co-living spaces and offices to other parts of the district.
Their main idea centres around incorporating water into the site through the collection of rainwater and the channelling of nearby seawater. They said the water can then be tapped for everyday use as well as lifestyle purposes such as fishing and shallow water frolicking.
Group member Nur Fadhilah Nordin, 22, who is doing her masters in architecture, said: “We designed it to suit the context of the area – as a town on the water’s edge. It builds on our historical struggle to be water sufficient and reconfigures how we integrate land and water.”
Another concept is to erect twin towers behind Power Station A where a pair of chimneys once stood. These towers could respectively host an artists-in-residence programme and holiday rental accommodation. The towers could house 300 units each.
Power stations A and B, which opened in 1953, were respectively decommissioned in the 1980s and 1990s. The plant was put out of business by cleaner and more efficient power stations.
Power Station A was re-opened for adhoc public events in 2018. Power Station B will be occupied by offices until next year. The power station compound is one of about 5,000 properties which are managed by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).
SLA chief executive Tan Boon Khai said the authorities are excited by the creativity and originality in the submitted entries. He said: “We look forward to realising this potential through the transformation of the iconic property into an exciting and attractive destination for all.”
In future, 9,000 homes for the public will be built near the Pasir Panjang Power District – at the present site of the Keppel Golf Club. The club’s lease expires next year.
The first power station to be built in Singapore was St James Power Station at 3 Sentosa Gateway in the 1920s. It was given national monument status in 2009. Renovations are under way for technology company Dyson’s plans to use it as its global headquarters.