A permanent space for large-scale events that will also pay tribute to Singapore's national servicemen will take the place of the popular Marina Bay floating platform and will be the central focus of the new downtown area, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day message yesterday.
The upcoming NS Square, due to be completed by end-2025, will continue to host future National Day Parades, said PM Lee in his televised National Day message before this year's parade at the Padang, a smaller-scale event held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
PM Lee yesterday unveiled the NS Square's design for the first time. Its grandstand seating can hold up to 30,000 people, compared with the current capacity of 27,000 at The Float @ Marina Bay.
There will be a gallery, with a mix of open and enclosed spaces, to honour the contributions of national servicemen past and present.
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.
NS Square will also be a community space for everyone, young and old, to enjoy, he said.
"The platform will become a red dot, shining bright in our city. NS Square will be the central focus of our new downtown," said PM Lee.
"And of course, we will continue to hold our National Day Parades there," he added.
Last month, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) jointly announced that the NS Square project had been 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 July this year.
Yesterday, 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 open all year round, with supporting food and beverage outlets 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, and was due to do so this year, before the coronavirus outbreak made it unfeasible.
In 2017 - the 50th year of national service in Singapore - PM Lee announced that the floating platform would be redeveloped into a permanent space.
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 was reclaimed, and it was turned 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 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 having 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.