Call for ideas to rejuvenate Pasir Panjang Power District

The Pasir Panjang Power District's main building, Power Station A, used to house turbines, a boiler hall and an old intercom system. The competition has two topics - one is open to the public and tertiary students, and the other to architects and arc
The Pasir Panjang Power District's main building, Power Station A, used to house turbines, a boiler hall and an old intercom system. The competition has two topics - one is open to the public and tertiary students, and the other to architects and architecture students.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Potential participants of URA-SLA contest visit site to draw inspiration for submissions

Transform a vacant power district into a massive concert hall to showcase local acts, an exhibition space, or even an indoor garden with vertical farms.

These are some ideas that architects, artists and tertiary students have in mind to rejuvenate the 15ha Pasir Panjang Power District, which currently houses two power stations, oil tanks and ancillary buildings.

Late last month, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) launched a competition to seek creative ideas from the public to transform the heritage-rich power district into a waterfront destination in the Greater Southern Waterfront, which will extend from Pasir Panjang to Marina East.

Development will proceed in stages, starting with the power district in about five to 10 years.

About 60 potential competition participants signed up for a site visit to the precinct yesterday to gain inspiration on converting the site into a place of work and play while preserving the district's industrial heritage.

Visual artist Heman Chong, 42, has a vision of the district's main building, Power Station A - formerly housing turbines, a boiler hall and an old intercom system - being turned into a concert hall for local performing arts groups.

"Theatre performances are suitable for this building because it has an incredibly high ceiling. Since the building is big, it may have interesting acoustics also," he added. Power Station A is about four storeys high.

Since the power district is located on the coast and next to the Labrador Nature Reserve, Mr Chong added that it is possible to blend green spaces into the precinct. He suggested a boardwalk be built along the coast that could extend to West Coast Park.

"With the boardwalk, SLA and URA could work with Singapore Sports Hub, for instance, to organise coastal marathons."

The power district was built during the 1950s and 1960s to supply the country's burgeoning energy needs. It ceased operations in the 1980s and 1990s when cleaner, more advanced power stations such as Senoko and Pulau Seraya were built.

The power station buildings' exterior, made of red brick walls, is unique to the period's architecture and design. The thick steel columns that almost extend to the ceiling, yellow-tinted windows and the old intercom system symbolise the industrial heritage of Power Station A.

The participants of the competition are looking to propose ideas for the district that do not alter its structure and design, to preserve its heritage.

Mr Chong said: "I feel strongly that what we lack in Singapore is our layers of history, and we should allow this building to shine on its own. We don't have to clean up everything. Not everything has to look brand new."

Participants can choose from two main topics in the competition, which will run until June 25.

The first topic - open to the public and tertiary students - requires participants to submit a masterplan to develop the entire power district, and the second topic seeks creative ideas to repurpose Power Station A while keeping in mind its industrial heritage.

Only architecturally trained professionals and tertiary students can compete on the second topic.

Winners stand to receive up to $3,000. The winning proposals and other relevant submissions will be showcased in a public exhibition later this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2019, with the headline 'Call for ideas to rejuvenate Pasir Panjang Power District'. Print Edition | Subscribe