Kallang’s shining light

Kallang’s shining light

SINGAPORE - The cranes have come down, the protective hoarding rolled away and the plastic covers taken off the red-and-white seats.

Anticipation has never been more palpable in the Kallang Basin.

Next weekend, the new $1.33-billion Singapore Sports Hub opens its doors for the grand reveal - almost 13 years after the idea of rebuilding the National Stadium was first mooted.

Singaporeans, who have been watching the futuristic dome take shape, will get to see the hub in its full glory at the Rugby World Club 10s next Saturday. This is a lead-up to the official opening of the hub next year.

It has been a marathon for the project's architects and designers, but the finish line is in sight.

Already, the Sports Hub has garnered rave reviews, picking up a Future Projects (Leisure-led Development) award at last year's World Architecture Festival, considered the Oscars of the architecture world.

But it has not been all bouquets. The project was hit repeatedly by delays due to rising costs and financing constraints caused by the 2008 economic crisis.

Originally, construction was to have begun in 2007 when the stadium officially closed. The groundbreaking ceremony was eventually held in 2010.

But even after work finally started, its completion date was pushed back. Earlier this year, the media reported that it would open in stages from April. But next weekend's rugby games will be the first sporting event at the hub.

Little wonder, then, that those in the main companies behind the Sports Hub - international engineering firm Arup Associates, home-grown architecture stalwarts DP Architects and the hub's landscapers Aecom - say erecting Singapore's new landmark is no mean feat.

35ha is not that big

In land-scarce Singapore, the 35ha set aside for the hub might seem like a huge space.

The old national stadium, on its own, took up about 5ha. But it was a finger-cracking exercise fitting in numerous elements. There is an aquatic centre, a multi-purpose sports hall, a skate park and fitness corners and a 41,000 sq m mall with an integrated leisure waterpark and offices.

Then there is the piece de resistance: the new National Stadium.

DP Architects' senior director Teoh Hai Pin, 55, says the task was a challenging one because there were no reference points.

"We knew we were dealing with a hub, not just building a stadium. The project needed to really complement a compact and usable hub. It was difficult because we had to really study how to make the facilities work in this space."

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