Singapore, naturally

Singapore's first natural history museum is scheduled to be completed in the second half of next year. The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, which is the successor of the National University of Singapore's Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, costs $46 million and will house more than 500,000 South-east Asian animal and plant specimens, as well as three sauropod dinosaur fossils from the Jurassic period.

The new museum, which is being built at NUS, is designed to be eco-friendly. The galleries are windowless to reduce the cooling load and energy required for the air-conditioning. The building is also equipped with a tank to harvest rainwater to irrigate the landscape features for up to three days. Green-labelled products, including paint, carpets, artificial turf and composite timber, are also being used.

The 8,500 sq m museum will host educational programmes at the different zones in its galleries, and will also serve as a research hub on biodiversity in the region. The more than 2,200 sq m of galleries will be able to display up to 10 times more exhibits than the current Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

Mr Mok Wei Wei, managing director of W Architects, the architects for the project, aims to create a multi-sensory experience of sight and sound for museum visitors. From the strong form of the museum to the windowless facade, he wants to create a sense of curiosity of what lies within.

The museum still needs $10 million for professorships, fellowships and staff costs. Naming opportunities in the new museum are available. Members of the public can donate at

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