Singapore Conference Hall to get big revamp

The 52-year-old Singapore Conference Hall, now the home of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, has played host to union events, campaign launches and National Day Rally events.
The 52-year-old Singapore Conference Hall, now the home of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, has played host to union events, campaign launches and National Day Rally events.PHOTO: SCO

$16m works to improve concert hall and concourse to finish by next January

Two staircases in the Singapore Conference Hall (SCH) which were demolished in 2000 will be rebuilt in upcoming renovations to replicate the appearance of the concourse from the past.

These were the stairs that founding father Lee Kuan Yew climbed on his way to the auditorium to deliver National Day Rally speeches in the 1980s.

They were removed when the conference hall underwent renovations 17 years ago.

The 52-year-old conference hall, built to house the headquarters of the National Trades Union Congress, was designated a national monument in 2010.

Over the years, it has played host to union events, campaign launches, National Day rallies, concert performances and receptions for visiting foreign dignitaries.

It is now the home of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO), and renovations start on Monday to make improvements to the concert hall, concourse and landscaping. Slated for completion in January next year, the revamp will cost about $16 million, of which $2 million will come from the National Arts Council.

 

SCO executive director Terence Ho said improvements will be made to the acoustics of the hall, so that the music played will be "warm, present and reverberate".

The stage will be expanded to accommodate a growing orchestra, and this will be done by removing a row of seats from the floor.

Mr Ho said this will not significantly impact the capacity of the concert hall, as only some 30 out of 869 seats will be removed.

"By transforming the concert hall, we hope that SCH can be a premier world-class venue with good acoustics for Chinese orchestras," he said.

Also undergoing improvements will be the accessibility from the concourse.

Mr Ho said: "Currently, the lifts do not go all the way to the entrance of the concert hall.

"Concertgoers had to take a lift and then walk up a flight of stairs to reach the hall. "

This was a challenge for senior citizens and people with disabilities, he added.

The revamp will include the construction of a linkway from the third-floor lift foyer to the entrance of the concert hall below.

Mr Ho said there are plans to open eateries and "create an end-to-end experience" for visitors to meet up, have a meal and watch a concert.

However, certain features will be retained, such as the facade, and its signature "Dewan Persidangan Singapura" (Malay for Singapore Conference Hall) display at the entrance, in addition to the rebuilding of the staircases.

"As SCH is a national monument, we have to preserve the gazetted features," Mr Ho said.

He added that there will be an opening performance by the SCO when the SCH reopens next year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore Conference Hall to get big revamp'. Print Edition | Subscribe