SINGAPORE - The upcoming NS Square, set to replace the Marina Bay floating platform, will be the central focus of the new downtown area, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day message on Sunday (Aug 9).
The project, due to be completed by end-2025, will continue to host future National Day Parades, as well as a gallery dedicated to national servicemen, PM Lee added as he unveiled its design for the first time.
PM Lee was giving his National Day message in a televised broadcast ahead of a parade at the Padang as part of this year's scaled down, decentralised National Day Parade (NDP), held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NS Square is set to be a permanent space for large-scale national events, with the new grandstand seating up to 30,000, compared to the current capacity of The Float @ Marina Bay of 27,000.
It will also feature community sports facilities, such as a swimming pool and water sports centre, as well as a new waterfront promenade that will improve pedestrian connectivity in the area, forming a loop around Marina Bay.
PM Lee said: "The platform will become a red dot, shining bright in our city. NS Square will be the central focus of our new downtown."
There will be a gallery – with a mix of open and enclosed spaces – to honour the contributions of national servicemen past and present, and NS Square will also be a community space for everyone, young and old, to enjoy, he said.
"And of course, we will continue to hold our National Day Parades there," he added.
Last month, the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Defence jointly announced that the NS Square project was awarded to a consultant team led by Woha Architects.
The Singapore-based firm was selected to act as the principal consultant following a design consultancy tender held from May last year to last month.
On Sunday, the two ministries said that a tiered, curved seating area will wrap around the stage “to provide an uninterrupted line-of-sight to the stage from all angles as well as bring spectators closer to the ‘action’”.
Other than NDP, the space could also be configured for events of different scales and types, such as concerts, performances, sporting activities and competitions, they said.
A lower promenade area will be opened all year round, with supporting F&B and retail outlets being considered for the new development.
Redevelopment work is scheduled to start in March 2022, although the project scope and timeline may be adjusted due to the impact of Covid-19.
Initially built as a temporary National Day Parade venue while the new National Stadium was under construction, The Float @ Marina Bay has hosted the event nine times since 2007, most recently in 2018.
This year's NDP was scheduled to be held at the floating platform before the coronavirus outbreak hit.
In 2017 - the 50th year of national service in Singapore - PM Lee announced that the floating platform would be redeveloped into a permanent space to commemorate it, with the platform expanded and more seats added.
He noted that national service recruits currently hold their passing out parade at the floating platform, and this helps them to understand what they are defending, and why generations of national servicemen have been willing to serve and sacrifice.
PM Lee said: "Every National Day, we remind ourselves that Singapore is a nation whose story is worth celebrating, whose history is worth cherishing, and whose future is worth building."
When the NDP is held at the Padang, or at the floating platform, the audience can see the Marina Bay skyline in the background, he said.
Marina Bay used to be open sea, but the land around it has been reclaimed, turning it into a reservoir.
"Looking out across the Bay, you can immediately see how far Singapore has come, and imagine the possibility and promise that Singapore holds," he added.
MND and Mindef said that the development will take advantage of the site’s waterfront location, and will allow activities such as dragon boating, canoeing and kayaking, in addition to a swimming pool and water play areas open to the public.
“(The water sports) facility, part of a larger network of water sports facilities around Marina Reservoir, will provide the community with greater access to water-based recreational options in central Singapore,” added the ministries.