2017 Yearender: Orchard Road rejuvenation

2017 Year In Review: Bringing back the buzz to Orchard Road

Flashbang, which is being held this month at the open-air carpark behind 313@Somerset, features food and craft stalls, music performances, creative workshops and games, among other attractions.
Flashbang, which is being held this month at the open-air carpark behind 313@Somerset, features food and craft stalls, music performances, creative workshops and games, among other attractions.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID
Pedestrians crossing the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection on Dec 16, the first day of a month-long scramble crossing trial.
Pedestrians crossing the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection on Dec 16, the first day of a month-long scramble crossing trial.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Plans include making area pedestrian-friendly, having more street activities and showcasing local talent

Plans are under way to bring back some of the shine to Singapore's premier shopping belt, Orchard Road, which has been facing stiff competition from suburban malls and the explosion of e-commerce sites.

While there is a study is ongoing to develop a blueprint for the area over the next 15 to 20 years, some initiatives have already been put in place to recapture the interest of shoppers.

In April, the Singapore Tourism Board announced a number of plans which included having fewer vehicle lanes to make way for more ad-hoc street activities and events, and a new building to showcase and groom local talent in the heart of Orchard Road.

One key focus of the rejuvenation is to make Orchard Road as pedestrian-friendly as possible.

The ongoing Flashbang is an example of cars making way for pedestrians. The open-air carpark behind 313@Somerset has been turned into a street market with food and craft stalls.

A Shibuya-style scramble walk, which allows shoppers to cross the Cairnhill Road-Orchard Road intersection diagonally, is currently being trialled as part of efforts to make the precinct easier for pedestrians to get around in.

If successful, it may be replicated at other busy four-way junctions along the street.

To showcase local designs on the shopping street, a 2 1/2-storey building on Orchard Green is being constructed.

Design Orchard, which will showcase and groom up-and-coming local brands and designers, will be completed by the end of next year.

There will be a retail floor, which local lifestyle retailer Naiise will manage and operate, and areas for work and events.

The plan is to have at least 60 local brands selling fashion and lifestyle products.

Shoppers can also look forward to Orchard Road going smoke-free soon.

From next July, smoking in public areas will be allowed only at designated areas within the smoke-free zone.

The zone extends from Tanglin Road to Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, and up to Goodwood Park Hotel in Scotts Road.

Existing smoking corners at eateries in the precinct will also be banned, as the Government clamps down on second-hand smoke.

The latest attempt to jazz up the 2.2km shopping stretch and transform its streetscape may be its most ambitious yet.

But shoppers and observers have said such initiatives may come to nought if malls do not do their part to break out of their cookie-cutter moulds and offer more unique stores and experiences to give shoppers a reason to make the trip to town.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 25, 2017, with the headline 'Bringing back the buzz'. Print Edition | Subscribe