Travelling from one end of Orchard Road to the other will eventually be a very different experience, as plans are afoot to transform the 2.4km stretch into a more lively street with different offerings in each of its four sub-precincts.
Part of the road may also go car-free to connect green spaces at the Istana Park, Dhoby Ghaut Green and the open space at Plaza Singapura, and turn it into a garden oasis.
These were among the proposed plans to rejuvenate Singapore's shopping belt unveiled yesterday, following a six-month study and consultations with stakeholders.
In a joint statement, the Singapore Tourism Board, Urban Redevelopment Authority and National Parks Board (NParks) said new retail concepts, attractions, entertainment and events will be introduced to the Tanglin, Somerset, Orchard and Dhoby Ghaut sub-precincts to strengthen Orchard Road's position as a lifestyle destination.
The heart of Orchard Road will remain the retail core, with more mixed-use developments to be built on vacant parcels of state land along Orchard Boulevard.
Starting in April, the Orchard Road Business Association will begin a year-long trial to bring activities, such as retail and food and beverage pop-ups and arts and entertainment events, to the pedestrian walkways along the street.
Side streets such as Killiney Road and Orchard Turn will also be enhanced for better connectivity, while elevated link bridges may be built to make it easier for visitors to cross the junctions of Orchard and Paterson roads, the agencies said.
Dhoby Ghaut will be a green zone with family-friendly attractions such as outdoor playgrounds and sheltered event venues.
Tanglin will be branded a mixed-use neighbourhood with arts and artisanal choices, with the conserved Tudor Court, for example, housing more arts and cultural offerings.
Somerset will strengthen its positioning as a youth hub with new lifestyle options and the possible transformation of the Grange Road open-air carpark into a dedicated events space, the agencies said.
To "bring back the Orchard", NParks is also looking to plant more trees and shrubs along Orchard Road, starting next year, with a different colour palette for each sub-precinct.
Experts say that the ideas are a good move, but the real transformation needs to happen inside the street's malls.
Plans to rejuvenate Orchard Road were first announced in 2017 by then Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran. These included using state land for pop-up concepts and events, creating a local retail showcase and making the street more pedestrian-friendly.
Speaking yesterday at the launch of Design Orchard, the realisation of the local retail and incubation space, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that Orchard Road has come a long way from its days as a nutmeg and clove plantation, and must continue to be a place of innovation and evolution.
Addressing building owners in the audience, he said that they should not feel constrained by the current rules when coming up with new concepts.
"Orchard Road is not a 2.4(km) IPPT run; we are not aiming for people to pass through Orchard Road in five or 10 minutes. We want people to come here, linger and make sure that they have a different experience at each and every turn," he said, referring to the Individual Physical Proficiency Test.
A public exhibition on the future plans for Orchard Road is being held at Orchard Fountain Corner beside 313@Somerset for two weeks - starting yesterday and lasting until Feb 13 - to gather feedback. Details on the plans and a feedback channel will be available until May 31 at https://ura.sg/orchardrd
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.