Green is in for Capitol

Green is in for Capitol
Artist's impressions of an amenity deck with an infinity swimming pool (above), which will have lush plants such as the Erythrina tree.

When Capitol Singapore opens later this year, its three spiffed-up heritage buildings will vie for attention with its green haven.

The 542,000 sq ft property is shaping up to be an urban oasis filled with lush greenery, water walls and themed gardens.

The Capitol Singapore in Stamford Road is a major heritage redevelopment project, which has brought in international landscape architecture practice Grant Associates.

Grant Associates is no stranger to Singapore. Its stunning work includes parts of Gardens by the Bay, where it designed the 18 towering vertical gardens - better known as the Supertrees - and the Cooled Conservatories there, as well as the Institute of Technical Education College Central's mega campus in Ang Mo Kio Drive.

The Bath-based company, which has a local office in Tanjong Pagar Road, is the landscape architect for Capitol Singapore.

Mr Keith French, director of Grant Associates, says the company was attracted to bid for the Capitol project as it is an "amazing site".

"Capitol Singapore is right in the heart of the city and would be a different challenge from our work with Gardens by the Bay," he tells Life! over the telephone from the company's Bath office.

"Working with a heritage site, the complexity of the brief, delivering a new public space and working with a great team were all factors that made us want to work on this project."

The lead architect for the project is New York- based Richard Meier & Partners Architects, which has worked on famous buildings such as The Getty Center, a campus of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art in Spain.

The Capitol Singapore project is owned and being redeveloped by Capitol Investment Holdings, a joint venture between Perennial Real Estate Holdings Limited and the Pontiac Land Group and its affiliates.

The $1.1-billion mixed-use redevelopment comprises three conservation buildings - Capitol Theatre, Capitol Building and Stamford House.

Work on Capitol Singapore began in November 2011. It has been turned into an integrated luxury development comprising the 39-unit Eden Residences and a six-star hotel, The Patina.

There will also be a retail mall which will house flagship stores and new concepts.

The neo-classical-styled Capitol Theatre, which was built in 1929, will have about 1,000 seats and will open with Singapura The Musical in May.

Grant Associates was tasked with designing a new, circular civic space and plaza, where the public can chill out and also enjoy events. It is also responsible for The Galleria, a sheltered dining space below a glass roof linked to the Capitol Theatre.

The well-heeled buyers of the Eden Residences - apartments here are selling at an average of $3,000 a square foot and about 45 per cent have been sold to date - will have themed gardens, including a reflexology spot.

On the edge of the crescent-shaped swimming pools on Level 3 of the building is a sweep of Erythrina trees, which produces red flowers, while the roof garden will be decorated with unique trees.

Explaining the concept of the landscape, Mr French says their designs took advantage of the gorgeous city views, which open up to the Marina Bay area and Chijmes across the road.

"We were inspired by the idea of 'living in a garden', so we tried to create a little oasis in the city, where you get that sense of enclosure and calm, but you feel you are still part of the city life," he says.

"Some of the garden spaces, such as the sensory and spa areas, will hopefully make you feel like

you are in a tropical resort rather than an urban area, as they are richly planted with orchids and ferns.

"Instead of using standard form trees, we picked those which are contorted, gnarled and of a matured character to bring personality to the space."

One of the challenges his team faced was making sure the heritage buildings were not overshadowed by new additions. They also had to fit the demands of the client into a tight space.

He is confident the project will shine when it is unveiled.

"We've been respectful and sensitive with how we have added our input to the project. They are an important collection of heritage buildings, culturally and historically, to Singapore.

"It has been a great project to work on and we're looking forward to seeing the final results, especially when the space transforms from day to night, and when events are taking place there.

"It should be quite magical."

This article was first published on Jan 24, 2015.
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