12 tallest skyscrapers in Singapore and around the region

Guoco Tower
PHOTO: GuocoLand Limited

Ever wondered why, in movies and TV shows, Godzilla never attacked Singapore? In 2021’s Godzilla vs Kong, the 120-metre-tall monster attacked Hong Kong instead. Maybe one reason is that Hong Kong, like many cities in the Southeast Asian region, have taller buildings than us.

The reason is far simpler: For safety reasons, due to air traffic control restrictions, Singapore’s maximum height limit for buildings is 280 metres (with maybe some exceptions for buildings in the Marina Bay district).

PHOTO: 99.co

Since Sept 3 is Skyscraper Day, where architects, planners, developers, engineers, historians and contractors commemorate the birth anniversary of Louis H. Sullivan (“father of modern skyscrapers”), 99.co thought it would be good to expand on our previous Singapore skyline skyscraper article a bit more – particularly our 12 tallest buildings, and several taller ones around our region.

1. Guoco Tower

The view from one of the penthouse balconies of Wallich Residence, which had illustrious owners like inventor James Dyson (before he sold it).
PHOTO: GuocoLand Limited

Property type: Mixed-use
Residential component: Wallich Residence
Height: 290 metres (951.44 feet)
Number of storeys: 65 (Wallich Residence occupies the 39th to 64th floor – TOP: 2016)
Total gross floor area: 1.7m sq ft
Developer: GuocoLand Limited
Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Architects 61

Formerly known as Tanjong Pagar Centre, Guoco Tower is the only skyscraper in Singapore’s skyline exempted from the height restriction of 280 metres. It houses the rooftop Urban Park, Wallich Residence apartment complex and a hotel by Sofitel Hotels & Resorts.

Wallich Residence comprises 181 one, two, three and four-bedroom apartments with condo facilities like a pool deck, fitness corner, swimming pool and so on.

It also includes four penthouses and one super penthouse, which comes in the form of a triple floor duplex on levels 62 to 64.

The latter was famously owned (and sold) by British inventor Sir James Dyson at one point. For anyone living on the upper penthouses of Wallich Residence, the sky’s literally the limit.

Joint 2. UOB Plaza One and the upcoming CapitaSpring

UOB Plaza One

UOB Plaza occupied the number one spot as Singapore’s tallest building with OUB Center (now One Raffles Place) and Republic Plaza until Tanjong Pagar Centre (now Guoco Tower) succeeded them in 2016.
PHOTO: Kenzo Tange Associates

Property type: Commercial
Residential component: None
Height: 280 metres (919 feet)
Number of storeys: 66
Site area: 12,440 sq ft
Total gross floor area: 623,325 sq ft
Developer: United Overseas Bank
Architect: Kenzo Tange Associates

The United Overseas Bank Plaza comprises of two towers, with its taller twin – the UOB Plaza One – once sharing the joint number one positions with OUB Centre (now One Raffles Place) and Republic Plaza before Tanjong Pagar Centre (now Guoco Tower) took over the spot.

UOB Plaza One links to Plaza Two via a 45-metre (148 feet) six-storey podium and four columns. For many Singaporean residents, the podium’s large airy atrium linking Raffles Place to the Singapore River is a popular meeting spot.

CapitaSpring

CapitaSpring is the newest addition to Singapore’s tallest building skyline, taking joint second position with UOB Plaza One.
PHOTO: CapitaLand

Property type: Commercial with serviced residence
Residential component: Citadines Raffles Place (opening 2022)
Height: 280 metres (919 feet)
Number of storeys: 51
Site area: 65,700 sq ft
Total gross floor area: 1.005m sq ft
Developer: CapitaLand
Architect: Bjarke Ingels Group or BIG

To be completed by the second half of 2021, CapitaSpring is an integrated development that comprises 29 floors of Grade A offices, with eight storeys dedicated to a 299-unit Citadines serviced residences managed by The Ascott Limited.

An artist’s impression of Citadines Raffles Place, a 299-unit serviced residence due to open in CapitaSpring by 2022.
PHOTO: CapitaLand

Seventy-five per cent of the residence are studio apartments, with the rest being loft studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. It’ll also include facilities like a swimming pool, jacuzzi, running track, gymnasium, yoga deck, social kitchen, lounge and barbeque pits.

The top 29 floors offer panoramic views of the Singapore River and Marina Bay. It even has a 35-metre Green Oasis of lush greenery and trees, spread out over four storeys. For trivia buffs, CapitaSpring cameoed in the third season of HBO’s WestWorld.

4. One Raffles Place (former OUB Centre)

One Raffles Place (former OUB Centre) is easily recognisable because it now has the shorter and newer, trapezoid-designed Tower Two next to it. The taller building in the foreground is, of course, UOB Plaza. Both are designed by architectural firm Kenzo Tange Associates.
PHOTO: Kenzo Tange Associates

Property type: Commercial
Residential component: None
Height: 277.8 metres (911 feet)
Number of storeys: 63
Total gross floor area: 1.096m sq ft
Developer: OUB Centre Limited
Architect: Kenzo Tange Associates

The former OUB Centre changed its name to One Raffles Place after the completion of the new, adjacent (and shorter) 38-storey commercial tower in 2012.

It’s synonymous with Raffles Place because of its connection to Raffles Place MRT and its above- and underground retail outlets.

The building gained quite some publicity when famous Frenchman Alain Robert climbed up to the 21st floor of the tower, before being dissuaded by police, in November 2000.

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5. Republic Plaza

PHOTO: City Developments Limited

Property type: Commercial
Residential component: None
Height: 276.3 metres (906 feet)
Number of storeys: 66
Total gross floor area: approx. 1.1m sq ft
Developer: City Developments Limited
Architects: Kisho Kurokawa Architects & Associates, RSP Architects Planners & Engineers

While Singapore isn’t in an earthquake zone, Republic Plaza was incorporated with earthquake-proof features.

While the tapered design of the tower is meant to improve wind loading, the axis of the tower is pivoted 45 degrees from the axis of the ground floor to allow a fine, ocean view at the top.

The top of the tower houses an executive club, which includes guest rooms and facilities.

Other interesting facts about it (if you’ve been inside) include 15 double-decker lifts and a four-storey-high main lobby. Fun fact: the building was completed in under two years – not bad for a skyscraper in our top five.

6. Capital Tower

PHOTO: CapitaLand

Property type: Commercial
Residential component: None
Height: 255.4 metres (833 feet)
Number of storeys: 52
Total gross floor area: 1.028m sq ft
Developer: CapitaLand
Architect: RSP Architects, Planners and Engineers

Capital Tower has five shuttle double-deck lifts, which allow passengers on two consecutive floors to use the lift simultaneously. Not only do they occupy less building core space, but double-deck lifts also improve efficiency especially when passenger traffic reaches a certain load.

Capital Tower was initially planned as POSBank’s headquarters but was later transferred to CapitaLand as their flagship building. The top floor of the tower, which is occupied by the members-only China Club, has a bar, restaurant, dining rooms and meeting rooms.

Joint 7. Altez and Skysuites @ Anson

Altez

A perspective of the Altez facade with Icon Village and its swimming pool.
PHOTO: RSP

Property type: Mixed-use
Residential component: 280 apartments with one, two, three and four bedrooms
Height: 250 metres (820 feet)
Number of storeys: 62 (TOP: 2014)
Site area: 32,681 sq ft
Total gross floor area: 274,525 sq ft
Developer: Bishan Properties (Far East Organization)
Architect: RSP Architects, Planners & Engineers

As one of the second tallest residential developments in Singapore, the Altez (together with Skysuites @ Anson) occupy the Singapore skyline, offering residents panoramic views of the city and sea.

A drone shot from the topmost floor of the Altez.
PHOTO: Bishan Properties (Far East Organization)

It’s just a two-minute walk to Tanjong Pagar MRT station and includes a direct link to the Icon Village mall (which includes Cold Storage supermarket) on its ground floor.

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Skysuites @ Anson

PHOTO: Arcadia Development (Allgreen Properties)

Property type: Residential
Residential component: 360 apartments with one, two and three bedrooms
Height: 250 metres (820 feet)
Number of storeys: 72 (TOP: 2015)
Site area: 30,011 sq ft
Total gross floor area: 252,092 sq ft
Developer: Arcadia Development (Allgreen Properties)
Architect: P&T Consultants

Sharing joint seventh position with Altez and located along the same Enggor Street in Tanjong Pagar, Skysuites @ Anson was completed about a year after Altez. It occupies a slightly smaller site area than Altez with more floors despite sharing the same height.

It includes a relaxation area with gardens and a hot spa called The Retreat at level 56 and a 360-degree viewing Vista Deck on the top 72nd floor.

Condo facilities like the 50-metre lap pool, tennis court and gymnasium are located on level seven and a fitness alfresco with kids’ play area on level 31.

While many who drive past these two developments would often confuse one with the other (since they’re on the same road and has the same height), one way to differentiate the two is to identify the rooftop – Skysuites @ Anson has a circular roof design (ie. Vista Deck), while Altez’s more angular.

Alternatively, you can just differentiate the two based on where Icon Village is.

Joint 9. One Raffles Quay North Tower, The Sail @ Marina Bay Tower 1, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 2 & Ocean Financial Centre

One Raffles Quay North Tower

PHOTO: Kohn Pedersen Fox

Property type: Commercial
Residential component: None
Height: 245 metres (804 feet)
Number of storeys: 50
Total gross floor area: 774,360 sq ft
Developers: Cheung Kong (Holdings), Hongkong Land and Keppel Land
Architects: Kohn Pedersen Fox, Architects 61

One Raffles Quay comprises of two towers – North (50 storeys) and South (29 storeys) – giving a total office space of 1.3m sq ft.

It’s purpose-built to house renowned international banks like Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank AG, Societe Generale and UBS. It includes a link to Raffles Place MRT station via the Retail Link and another to the Downtown MRT station.

The design of the towers is unique because they are sheathed in a glassy, transparent curtain wall – where a slight greenish tint creates a sense of lush greenery.

The Sail @ Marina Bay Tower 1

PHOTO: Dragages Singapore

Property type: Mixed-use
Residential component: 1,111 units of one, two, three, four and five bedroom apartments
Height: 245 metres (804 feet)
Number of storeys: 70 (TOP: 2008)
Total gross floor area: 1.272m sq ft (includes The Sail @ Marina Bay and Central Park Towers, and Podium)
Developers: City Developments Limited, AIG Global Real Estate Investments (Asia)
Architects: NBBJ, Team Design Architects

A mixed-use development with the promise of a waterfront lifestyle, The Sail comprises two towers – the taller 70-storey Marina Bay Tower (or Tower 1) and the shorter 63-storey Central Park Tower (or Tower Two).

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The land parcel was originally sold as a “white site” by URA, so developers CDL and AIG Global Real Estate, dedicated the first two levels for retail and kept the rest for residential use.

When completed in 2008 (Marina Bay Tower) and 2009 (Central Park Tower), The Sail was the first residential development in the New Downtown Core, boasting five penthouses, the largest of which is 9,000 sq ft.

Here’s a bit of trivia: Did you know the original plan for the Marina Bay Tower was 69 and not 70 storeys? Who knows, if it had stayed that way, it may not have made the top 12. Good thing they added an extra level.

Facade-wise, the Marina Bay Tower stays true to its name, having a glass design that resembles a sail.

Erected using complex civil engineering techniques by contractor, Dragages Singapore, The Sail required careful construction as it was located above an MRT line and unstable soil.

It has since become a remarkable engineering icon and deserves its spot on the Singapore skyline.

Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 2

PHOTO: Hongkong Land

Property type: Commercial
Residential component: None, however, Marina Bay Residences and Marina Bay Suites are in the adjacent towers
Height: 245 metres (804 feet)
Number of storeys: 50
Total gross floor area: 1.004m sq ft
Developers: Hongkong Land, Cheung Kong Holdings, Keppel Land
Architects: Kohn Pedersen Fox, DCA Architects

While there are three office towers, two residential towers and retail space (Marina Bay Link Mall), the tallest among them is Tower Two, which is where multinational firms – IBM, American Express, The Macquarie Group and so on – have their offices at.

The shortest among them is Tower One (186 metres/611 feet, 33 floors), and you can recognise it immediately as it is fully leased to Standard Chartered Bank with its logo being quite prominent on its facade.

Tower Three is the second tallest among the five (239 metres/784 feet, 46 floors), and counts DBS as an anchor tenant. You can’t miss it with its logo on the building.

Marina Bay Residences (TOP: 2010) is the third tallest among the five (227.1m/745 feet, 55 floors) with 428 units in one, two, three, four and five-bedroom configurations.

Marina Bay Suites (TOP: 2013) comes next in height (226.9 metres/744 feet, 66 floors) with 221 residential apartments in thre, four and five-bedroom sizes.

Naturally, anyone staying in either of these residences would also love to be working in any of these office towers. Furthermore, all five towers are connected to the mostly subterranean Marina Bay Link Mall for retail and dining options.

According to architect Kohn Pedersen Fox, the towers are positioned to maximises the office perimeter views of the bay, with a central city park to link commercial, residential and retail in a public, outdoor space.

Ocean Financial Centre

The next time you’re heading into the city and you see a sail-like building glowing, you’ll now know what building it is.
PHOTO: Pelli Clarke Pelli

Property type: Commercial
Residential component: None
Height: 245 metres (804 feet)
Number of storeys: 43
Total gross floor area: 1.03m sq ft
Developer: Keppel Land
Architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Last but not least, the unassuming Ocean Financial Centre brings up the final joint 9th tallest building in Singapore, completing our top 12 tallest buildings in Singapore (at least for now).

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Built on the site of the former Ocean Building, this development retained its name, including many of its former tenants (mostly financial (duh) institutions).

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: the building features a large solar array on its rooftop and used to house the Honorary Consulate of Cyprus on its 37th floor.

According to its architect, Pelli Clarke Pelli, the tower’s design celebrates Singapore’s maritime heritage, with a facade reminiscent of a ship’s sail.

The tower’s curtain wall has alternating bands of glass and metal panels to enhance the building’s gently curving form. Each metal panel comes with LED lights, which explains why the facade glows at night.

In case you’re wondering which buildings come next, here are the next three: CapitaGreen (242 metres / 794 feet), Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower Three and residential development, V on Shenton (237 metres/ 778 feet, 54 floors).

Till today, the tallest public housing (HDB) development is Pinnacle@Duxton with Block 1C being the tallest (163 metres/535 feet, 51 floors) and the rest being the same height (159.7 metres/524 feet, 50 floors).

The skyline will probably change again, with the planned completion of mixed-use development Guoco Midtown (280 metres, 30 floors) and Central Boulevard Towers (245 metres, 48 floors) by 2022.

Tallest buildings around our region

In the continuing spirit of Skyscraper Day, here’s a quick list of the tallest skyscrapers around our region:

Completed in 2010, Hong Kong’s tallest, and the world’s 12th tallest, is the International Commerce Centre at 484 metres/1,588 feet, with 108 floors above ground.
PHOTO: Hong Kong Trade Development Council
Completed in 2018, Vietnam/Ho Chi Minh city’s Landmark 81 (469.5 metres/1,540 feet) is the tallest in Southeast Asia, 10th tallest in Asia and 15th tallest in the world. With 81 floors, it sits at the heart of a mixed-use urban area called Vinhomes Central Park, comprising of a hotel, conference facilities, luxury apartments, high-end retail, F&B and an observation deck.
PHOTO: Aurecon
Delayed till Q2 2022, Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka 118 is slated to succeed the Petronas Twin Towers as Malaysia’s tallest once completed. With a height of 644 metres/2,113 feet with 118 floors above ground, it will succeed the Shanghai Tower to become the 2nd tallest building in the world (if no one else comes first that is). Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest in the world at 829.8 metres/2,723 feet with 163 floors.
PHOTO: Fender Katsalidis architects
Slated to complete by 2022, Indonesia/Jakarta’s Autograph Tower, or Thamrin Nine Tower One (seen here beside the shorter 300-metre Luminary Tower), will be 382.9 metres/1,256 feet tall, with 75 floors of office, hotel, retail, cultural, hospitality, academic, athletic and public spaces. Once complete, the Autograph Tower will be the tallest skyscraper in the Southern Hemisphere.
PHOTO: Kohn Pedersen Fox
Thailand/Bangkok’s 92-floor One Bangkok O4H4 will be 436 metres/1,431 feet tall once completed by 2025. It is adjacent to the city’s popular Lumphini Park and caters to residential, hotel, retail, office and public space needs.
PHOTO: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
No stranger to being globally featured during New Year Eve’s countdown fireworks, Taiwan’s Taipei 101 (508 metres/1,667 feet, 101 floors above ground) remains as the 10th tallest in the world and 7th in Asia. With a design unlike what we see in Chinese pagodas, its use is mainly for retail and offices.
PHOTO: C.Y.Lee & Partners architects

This article was first published in 99.co.