Previously known as the Empress Place Building, the building is a gazetted national monument that was converted to a museum in 1998 by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board to serve as the second wing of the Asian Civilisations Museum for the National Heritage Board. The design objectives are to boost riverside activity and improve accessibility to the Empress Place building, preserving its original character while meeting international museum standards.
To preserve the essential character of the building, its new extended arms adopted the original architectural language for overall coherence. In contrast, the interiors of the new viewing galleries were designed as contemporary interventions to add a dash of modernity. Unique features were retained to keep the building's history alive. Two new arms were added to incorporate a grand hall, a café and a riverside restaurant, together with two new courtyards to accommodate additional facilities, such as an auditorium, a children’s discovery room and a demonstration room. Another new arm was extended out on the side facing the Victoria Theatre to make space for a covered loading bay, goods lift and new building services. Mezzanine floors were introduced to yield more exhibition space. Floors were strengthened to take on the new imposed loads and building services were upgraded to provide full climatic control, fire protection and security control to the areas housing the artefacts.
Urban Planning and Design
This project required the conservation and change of use to the existing Empress Place Building, with the addition of a two-level, 10m to 12m deep basement. The excavation was supported using diaphragm walls and steel strutting. Extensive underpinning and strengthening of the existing foundations were also required. Due to the proximity of the excavation to the existing building and the sensitive nature of conserving it, an extensive instrumentation programme was put in place to monitor the works.