A brand new look at Civic District

An artist's impression of the revamped space outside the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, which will be greener and pedestrianised as part of the Government's push to improve the Civic District.

The Civic District will get its own logo, with banners adorning its lamp-posts, as part of new branding efforts for the area.

A branding agency will be appointed to develop a "clearly identifiable visual identity" for the district, which includes the Padang, museums and the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

The National Arts Council (NAC) issued a call for interested parties earlier this month.

The agency will have to create a logo, a website design and an e-mail template for the area. It will also have to come up with ideas to "dress up the Civic District to enhance its identity".

This could involve the use of digital screens, lamp-post banners - for which the agency must propose designs - or the roofs of bus stops.

All this is part of a bigger push to make the Civic District more vibrant, with plans for more pedestrian areas and green spaces.

First set out in the 2013 Draft Master Plan, the $66 million revamp will mostly be completed in phases this year, to tie in with Singapore's 50th birthday.

The need for a strong brand identity surfaced during a discussion in February with 40 stakeholders from the area, who noted that the name "Civic District" is not widely used in Singapore.

Heritage experts said a brand identity for the area was a good idea, though much would hinge on how the concept was executed.

"The intention is good. It's an effort to give some contemporary coherence to the area," said Singapore Heritage Society honorary secretary Yeo Kang Shua.

But he hoped the brand identity will reflect the area's diversity and multi-faceted history.

It should also be complemented by public outreach. "Other than visual identifiers, you need to tell the people more about the history behind it," he said.

This could be done via signs or QR codes through which visitors can get more information, he said.

Heritage enthusiast Choo Lip Sin said the new identity is a chance to correct the perception among many Singaporeans that the Civic District is important mainly for its colonial history.

"There are many layers of heritage and social development in the Civic District that a good branding and campaign can better bring forth to the people," he said.

But the businesses and people in the area itself should have a say in the final identity, he added.

Stakeholders did contribute in the February discussion, coming up with six key aspects of the Civic District's identity.

These include its role as a place of history and heritage, as well as one for the arts and culture.

The area is also a place for the "meeting of worlds", marked by a mix of the old and the new, the serious and the leisurely, and the commercial and the artistic.

It has a balance between the solemnity of government buildings and the vibrancy of the arts, and offers respite with its green and open spaces.

The Civic District is also a place for Singaporeans, with the Padang in particular as the historical home of the National Day Parade and a community space.

These six aspects should be taken into consideration in the new branding, said the NAC in its tender documents.


This article was first published on June 15, 2015.
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