Geylang Serai's new civic centre unveiled

SINGAPORE - Geylang Serai's new civic centre will mix traditional and contemporary elements.

As well as pitched roofs and stilt-like features inspired by Malay houses, there will be a pedestrian mall integrated into its ground level.

The winning design for Wisma Geylang Serai, by Design-Environment Group Architects, was unveiled at an award ceremony on Saturday following a competition held earlier this year. It was picked from 56 entries, of which five were shortlisted for the final round, said Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development and Defence.

Dr Maliki said the building will "help to amplify the distinctive identity of Geylang Serai and strengthen its urban character".

Construction will begin next year and is expected to be completed in 2017.

The guest of honour at the ceremony, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, recalled living in Geylang Serai briefly as a child, and being delighted when it flooded because he could go out and play.

But the area has been improved and transformed, and he said: "I am confident in time to come, this will become a vibrant area for all Singaporeans to come together."

The five-storey, 10,000 sq m Wisma Geylang Serai will be built on a site roughly the size of two football fields between Geylang Serai Road and Engku Aman Road, which used to house the former Malay Village, a heritage attraction shut in 2011.

It will house a community club, the Malay Heritage Gallery, the South East Community Development Council office and other arts and community facilities. A pedestrian walkway will be lined with shops and cafes.

Dr Maliki chaired a group comprising community and business leaders, architects and government agency representatives to work out what the public wanted.

Feedback called for an inclusive design that represents Malay heritage and a range of arts, sports, music and lifestyle activities.

An exhibition next to Paya Lebar MRT station will show all 56 entries until Aug 7.

Teacher Samsiah Rasam, 45, has remained involved in Geylang Serai grassroots groups despite moving to Sengkang.

She said: "The design is very unique and reflects Malay culture. It's a very welcoming structure."

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