Indian architects and designers add their touch to Singapore landscape

Indian architects and designers add their touch to Singapore landscape

Going back to an era before World War I, Singapore's skyline was dominated by colonial buildings which were mostly designed by British architects.

The first, tallest skyscraper in South-east Asia was Singapore's 79.5m Cathay Building (1939) by Frank Brewer. Three decades later another foreigner, the renowned I.M. Pei, gave Singapore the 197.7m OCBC Centre (1976). Another milestone was the multi-use Suntec City (1994) by New York-based Tsao & McKown Architects with local firm DP Architects.

Then came what has turned out to be one of Singapore's most recognisable buildings: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, built in 2002. Mr Vikas Gore, director, DP Architects (DPA), was director-in-charge of the project. This made him the first Indian to helm a major development on the island nation which has gained global appreciation.

During the construction boom that began in the 1980s, Indian architects were slow in coming, and when they did, many joined leading local architectural firms of the time such as DP Architects, Ong & Ong, RSP Architects, Architects 61 and RDC, many of which are still active.

Singapore is undisputedly becoming the regional leader among design hubs. Practices offer challenges both in terms of scale and types of projects. Architects and designers based here are also increasingly doing extensive work in India, Indonesia and China.

Perhaps one of the largest design practices belongs to Gaurang Khemka of URBNarc. He hit the headlines when, along with RGSA, he won the International Design Competition for the under-construction Singapore Indian Heritage Centre.

Next, Himaal Kak Kaul concentrated on homes and gained renown as design principal of Metamorph.

When the over 50-year- old fabindia, one of the best valued brands in India, ventured overseas and opened its maiden retail outlet in Singapore, Ujjwala Naik Goenka who founded Studio Paradigm, was selected to design the store at Paragon.

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