Jean Francois Milou: Designing the National Gallery

8) MR JEAN FRANCOIS MILOU, 61, architect behind the National Gallery Singapore

When the doors to the National Gallery Singapore opened last month, it was the final stage of what architect Jean-Francois Milou, 61, says has been the biggest project and proudest achievement of his career.

The French, Singapore-based architect has spent seven years on the demanding $532-million project, converting two landmark municipal buildings - the former Supreme Court and City Hall - into a stunning visual arts institution, which houses the world's largest collection of South-east Asian art.

There are more than 10,000 artworks in Singapore's national collection and the gallery will display about 1,000 of them at a time in the roughly 64,000 sq m space, comparable in size to the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

Converting civil offices and courtrooms into galleries fit to display world-class art presented numerous technical and design challenges.

I will feel we succeeded if people of all ages and backgrounds, beginning with Singaporean visitors, feel a sense of happiness and belonging simply by being in the gallery.

ARCHITECT JEAN-FRANCOIS MILOU, on the National Gallery Singapore

The bulk of the work he undertook, with the help of the Singapore arm of his architecture and design firm studioMilou and construction partner CPG Consultants, was dedicated to skilfully hiding and integrating technical functions - such as security, air-conditioning and lighting - into the building.

It amounts to thousands of hours of painstaking and detailed work which is invisible to the public eye.

By maintaining his signature artisanal approach, while retaining the unique character of the buildings, Mr Milou has created an elegant, unified space full of light and seamless transitions between old and new.

For achieving this and creating a new monument Singaporeans can be proud of, he debuts at No. 8 on Life's Power List.

The father of six, who is married to Ms Suzanne Ogge-Milou, 44, head of heritage projects and documents at studioMilou, says: "As architects, however hard we work, however sure we are of our design choices, one can never really know how people will feel about a building until it opens.

"I will feel we succeeded if people of all ages and backgrounds, beginning with Singaporean visitors, feel a sense of happiness and belonging simply by being in the gallery and appreciating the conservation aspects as much as the new design elements. "

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'Designing the National Gallery'. Print Edition | Subscribe