Call to architects for ideas to redevelop 3 key landmarks in Geylang Serai into a vibrant cultural precinct

The redeveloped landmarks will become the focal point of the Geylang Serai cultural belt. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Three key landmarks in the Geylang Serai district will be redesigned, with a call to architects to propose ideas in a competition.

Local architects aged 45 and below can pitch ideas to transform the area and redevelop three locations: Geylang Serai Market, Joo Chiat Complex, and civic centre and community hub Wisma Geylang Serai.

The competition, organised by the Singapore Institute of Architects, aims to transform Geylang Serai into a vibrant cultural precinct, with the redeveloped landmarks being the focal point of the Geylang Serai cultural belt.

Announcing the competition on Friday (Jan 22), Dr Maliki Osman, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs, said this initiative would help to improve infrastructure and revitalise the district with new community spaces.

Apart from proposing improvement works to Geylang Serai Market and Joo Chiat Complex, the architects must include design ideas for an iconic junction at the intersection where four roads - Geylang Road, Changi Road, Geylang Serai Road and Joo Chiat Road - meet.

"We hope to get ideas on how we can better present the external facade of the Geylang Serai Market, Joo Chiat Complex, and plans on how to turn that junction into an iconic landmark in its own right," said Dr Maliki.

"We would like to have the district preserve its cultural heritage, for it to be appreciated not only by Singaporeans, but also by visitors and tourists."

Ms Hwang Yu-Ning, chief planner and deputy chief executive officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, said the brief is open to interpretation and can encompass a range of ideas.

"The core is to strengthen the social identity of the area. Proposals can include historical or cultural references, or be a modern reinterpretation," said Ms Hwang.

She added that the authorities will provide younger architects with opportunities not only to have an important project to work on, but also to showcase their talent.

The winner of the competition will be appointed to develop the design proposal and oversee the implementation of on-site works, along with the People's Association, the Housing Board, the National Environment Agency, and the Land Transport Authority.

Submission for proposals are open now and architects must send them in by March 19.

The redevelopment of the Geylang Serai landmarks will give the district a welcome boost, and it is one of many fresh initiatives which have been mooted to turn the area into a cultural belt to reflect its rich heritage.

Intentions to spruce up and rejuvenate Geylang Serai to create a culturally distinctive precinct were first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the 2018 National Day Rally.

In consultation with the community, including past and present residents of Geylang Serai, ideas have been generated over the last two years, and these include the creation of new public improved infrastructure along the Geylang Serai cultural belt, stretching from the Tanjong Katong Complex to Kampong Ubi Community Centre.

The community consultations took place from October to December 2019, and involved workshops, townhall meetings, focus group discussions, and online and offline surveys that garnered more than 10,000 responses.

Dr Maliki on Friday also announced other plans to rejuvenate Geylang Serai.

These include a new community space, ANJUNG @ WGS, which will be built along Engku Aman Road. The space will be managed by community civic and cultural centre Wisma Geylang Serai, and is set to open by end-2022. It will feature a 1,810 sq m sheltered court that can be used for public gatherings such as ceremonial and social events, community programmes and sports activities.

Other programmes, including a walking tour called "Jalan-Jalan @ Geylang Serai", will introduce both locals and tourists to a variety of distinct landmarks, like the Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre, and mosques like Masjid Khalid and Masjid Darul Aman.

Dr Maliki also unveiled a new Batik Art installation at the front facade of Wisma Geylang Serai.

The painting was done by 1,500 people, who set a record in the Singapore Book of Records for creating the longest continuous batik painting during Wisma Geylang Serai's first anniversary in January last year. The 550m-long painting was completed over three days by representatives from 46 groups which included residents, schools, inter-faith groups and community partners.

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