Singapore Government Media Release

Media Division, Ministry of Information and The Arts,

140 Hill Street #02-02 MITA Building, Singapore 179369.

Tel: 837 9666

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OFFICIAL OPENING OF MITA BUILDING

First November 2000 will mark the date for the Official Opening of MITA Building since the completion of its redevelopment in March this year. Minister for Information and The Arts, Mr Lee Yock Suan, will declare the building open at 7.00pm.

MITA Building, or Old Hill Street Police Station as it is officially known as, was first built in 1934 and redeveloped in December 1997. The building was gazetted as a national monument in 1998. A more detailed write-up on the building is attached at Annex A..

In conjunction with the Official Opening, Minister George Yeo, a special guest at the event, will unveil the sculpture, Big Bang, by Brother Joseph McNally. A brief description of the sculpture is at Annex B. We have also produced a special publication, Bridge from the Past, Window to the Future, and a screen saver to mark this occasion. The screen saver can be downloaded from the MITA website <www.gov.sg/mita> with effect from 2 November 2000.

MITA Building currently houses the staff from the HQ of the Ministry of Information and the Arts (MITA), the National Arts Council (NAC), National Heritage Board (NHB), Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA), Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Small Kindness Movement (SKM) and Singapore Film Commission (SFC). Its ground floor is devoted to art galleries and commercial F&B outlets.

The building also offers a unique performing and exhibition space at the atrium. To date, the ARTrium has seen 16 performances and six exhibitions staged.

A commemorative book on MITA Building is available for collection at:

Media Division, Ministry of Information and the Arts, #02-02, MITA Building,140 Hill Street, Singapore 179369

 

MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND THE ARTS

31 OCTOBER 2000

Annex A

OLD HILL STREET POLICE STATION BUILDING

FACT SHEET

BUILDING INFORMATION

Name of Building: Officially: Old Hill Street Police Station

Informally: also known as MITA HQ Building

Name of Owner: Ministry of Information and The Arts

Project Manager: PWD Consultants Pte Ltd

Main Consultant: PWD Consultants Pte Ltd

Main Contractor: M/s Evan Lim & Co. Pte Ltd (attached annex for list of other contractors)

Address: 140 Hill Street, Singapore 179369

Date of Completion: March 2000

Site Area: 10,968.31 m2

 

PHYSICAL FACTS

Location: Junction of River Valley Road and Hill Street

Building Forms: Seven six-storey blocks formed around two existing open spaces, in an L-shaped configuration.

Courtyard: Triangular open space with F&B outlets

Atrium: Rectangular atrium with Commercial Art Galleries; roofed over with glass tensioned-cable skylight

 

HISTORY

First Built: 1934

Architect: Public Works Department/ Major J. F. McNair

Original Usage: Police Station at the first storey of the triangular wing; Barracks for police offices & families at other parts of the building

Significance: Largest government building in Singapore when first built

Architectural Style: Neo-classical

Prior to Redevelopment:

1980: Police moved out.

1983: Building was renovated and re-named as the Hill Street Building; occupied by Official Consignee, the Official Trustee Public Receiver and the Archives & Oral History Dept.

1990s National Archives and Board and Film Censorship were the remaining tenants when the building was vacated for the redevelopment in Dec 97.

Redevelopment: Construction work commenced in Dec 1997. Completed in March 2000.

Gazetted as Monument: 1998

 

HISTORICAL FEATURES & CONSERVATION

Building Conservation: Six of the original eight six-storey blocks were

An existing old toilet block was demolished to make way for new driveway behind the building.retained and conserved.

Another Block facing Fort Canning Entrance Park and Hill Street Food Centre was demolished and re-constructed to facilitate the construction of new basement.

Existing substation demolished and replaced with new 22kV substation

External Features: Pediment entrance leading to the original police station premise was preserved, including the two existing building plaques on the columns.

External historical façades facing Hill Street and River Valley Road were conserved. Original features such as the corbelled loggias and balconies were retained.

All windows are kept open to give the building a more lively and friendly image, and to allow light into the new offices. New glass secondary windows were introduced to contain the air-conditioning.

Original prison cell vents openings can still be seen on the facade facing River Valley Road.

Existing garage openings have been sealed up, but retained as blank walls for future banners on art activities.

Windows: The original ones on the historical façades facing River Valley Road and Hill Streets were found to have steel frames with timber lourved panels. Together with the old ironmongeries and green tinted glass, these were re-stored as much as possible.

Layers of old paint colour uncovered for windows: yellow (original), green, blue and light green. We have counted more than 900 windows.

Façades wall surfaces: Original shanghai plaster façade were uncovered during the restoration works. However, the workmanship of the plasterwork were not good enough to be left exposed as originally intended. The old façade were painted subsequently.

Layers of old paint colour uncovered for façade showed three different shades of grey

Courtyards: The floors above the old police station premise were occupied by married couples, and had lattice panels for modesty reasons. Lattices were removed to allow views and lights to new offices.

Rectangular courtyard that used to be the Parade Ground where police officers have their daily exercise and drills was covered with skylight and converted to an atrium for art activities.

New floor slab was constructed across the double volume arches adjacent to the Parade Ground that opened to the greenery of Fort Canning Hill but arches were glazed to retain the transparency.

Internal Planning: Most of the barrack blocks have one row of rooms along the external facades and the verandas with common kitchens on the internal facades.

Original internal planning would not be apparent after the adaptive re-use, except that each old block has distinct front and rear elevations. One would be full of windows, where the bedrooms were originally located, the other, generally big plain openings with small vents and chimney flues.

Veranda Openings: The original veranda openings along communal corridors of the barracks, where the kitchens and toilets were, are re-instated as far as possible according to the original plans. Fixed glass panels were added to the opening for the new office function.

Chimney Flues: Existing chimneys flues serving the kitchens of the barracks were retained, and could be spotted on the internal façade within the courtyards & atrium, and one of the external elevations facing the new substation.

Staircases: Four of the existing staircases were preserved, together with the original railings and balustrades. These were used mainly as fire escape staircases in the new development.

 

NEW BUILDING & FEATURES

New Blocks: Construction of the new structures was expressed in contemporary architectural language, using materials such as glass, steel and granite.

Use of light and transparent materials (steel and glass), to avoid obscuring existing elements, as well as to contrast against them

Use of granite to express the service cores, and to anchor the new elements.

Walkway canopy: Glass canopy walkway wraps around the front façade (except near the road junction where the walkway leads into the building). The total length is approx 150m. The walkway is a frameless suspended glass structure, and the existing bus stop along Hill Street would be integrated as part of it.

Night lighting: The building formed part of the Civic District night lighting scheme.

Courtyard: The size is 390 sqm, featuring Big Bang, sculpture by Brother Joseph McNally on a fountain.

Atrium: Size is 1053 sqm containing features like the new tension cabled structure skylight; new lift lobby core flanged by two scupltures by Anthony Poon and Ng Yak Whee set within reflective pools; eight banners by Sun Yu-li; and four planters. The Atrium used to be the parade ground of the old police station. Before the redevelopment, it was used as an open carpark space.

Driveway: Lush creepers, heliconia plants and yellow cane palms on the soil nail retaining slopes to soften the harsh surfaces. Scupltures and water features are also added at strategic locations.

 

Annex B

 

DESCRIPTION OF BIG BANG TO BE UNVEILED BY BG GEORGE YEO MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY

1 NOVEMBER 2000

Artist: Joseph McNally

Title: Big Bang

Medium: Cast Silicon Bronze

Size: 2.0mW x 2.0mD x 5.0mH

 Description:

The visual harmonisation of spherical galaxies of planets and the chain of beaded genomes referring to DNA present the major concerns of Humanity in the new millennium. Both outer space and genetics offer a wealth of explorations unbounded by time and space. The DNA necklace weaves through the universe of three galaxies, symbolising the penetration of human spirit and imagination over thousands of years. From the base, a dome of running water reveals the roots of creation: the Big Bang and the beginning of time. The spirals run connected in eternal motion, like the never-ending cycle of life.

 Year: 2000

Singapore Arts Museum Collection

 

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