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Competition: Pasir Panjang Power District

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has launched an international contest to regenerate the city state’s disused Pasir Panjang power station (Deadline: 25 June)

The Powering Up Pasir Panjang competition – supported by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) – seeks innovative proposals to transform the 15ha former industrial waterfront site into a ‘distinctive lifestyle destination’ over the next 15-20 years.

The contest is divided into two categories: the conceptual masterplan category seeks ideas from the public to transform the site with new lifestyle amenities; while the professional category invites architects to transform the older of two power stations into a new events venue. The overall winners in each category will receive $3,000. 

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

URA chief executive Lim Eng Hwee said: ‘We welcome the chance to partner the public in rejuvenating the Pasir Panjang Power District, an important part of Singapore’s industrial history. Through this competition, we hope to seek out fresh ideas that will do justice to this unique site and bring it into the future in creative ways.’

Tan Boon Khai, chief executive of SLA, said: ‘Many of our state properties including Pasir Panjang Power Station “A” are iconic and have a rich history. This distinct red-brick building has also seen a lot of interest for event use. Through this partnership with the public, we hope to be able to introduce innovative ways to repurpose and adapt the use of this property for the public and community to enjoy.’

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

The Pasir Panjang Power District was transformed into an energy-producing hub during the 1950s and 1960s. It is located at the western end of Singapore’s Greater Southern Waterfront close to the Labrador Nature Reserve.

The site features two power stations – ‘A’ and ‘B’ – which were both decommissioned in the late 20th century following the construction of cleaner alternatives elsewhere in the city.

The latest project aims to rejuvenate the site, which currently features offices, serviced apartments and storage facilities along with several disused buildings which have hosted public events.

A series of prizes worth $3,000, $2,500, $2,000, $1,500, $1,000 and $500 will be awarded in each category.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 25 June

Contact details

Email: ura_power_district@ura.gov.sg

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with the URA and SLA

The project backers discuss their ambitions for the competition

What is your vision for the future of the prominent site?

The 15-hectare Pasir Panjang Power District was Singapore’s powerhouse in the early postwar years. The main power station building with its distinctive red brick façade was commissioned in the early 1950s, supplying much needed power to fuel Singapore’s push towards industrialisation in the 1960s. With the decommissioning of the two power stations in the 1980s and 1990s, the tranquil waterfront site has the potential to be transformed into a distinctive lifestyle destination for people of all ages to enjoy.

This state property has proven popular for both private events as well as public holiday open house programmes and heritage tours organised by the SLA. The URA and SLA have seen keen interest from the public and are seeking creative ideas to repurpose the disused power station buildings for new uses, create attractive and inclusive public spaces and public access to the once industrial waterfront, and celebrate the rich history and heritage of this unique district.

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Source: Image by Google Earth

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Why are you holding a contest to redevelop the Panjang Power District?

The site is relatively obscure as it is away from the main road, hidden behind a row of existing power generation facilities. We hope to raise awareness of the existence of this unique site, capture public aspirations and seek out fresh ideas that will do justice to the area’s heritage while giving it a new lease of life. Through this ideas competition, we hope to see the surfacing of many creative and meaningful ideas on the repurposing of the site and its buildings for new uses, as well as on the creation of unique and exciting spaces for the community to enjoy. Such innovative ideas and concepts will help inform the future plans of the power district which government agencies are currently studying.

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Contest site: Pasir Panjang Power District

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Engaging the public has been an important part of the planning process and agencies actively look for ways to partner the public in the co-visioning of a number of our projects. URA has held ideas competitions to draw fresh ideas and concepts from the public in addressing key planning challenges and issues for selected projects with widespread public interest. Examples include the rail corridor ‘Journey of Possibilities’ ideas competition in 2011, which provided an opportunity for the public to contribute towards the envisioning of the rail corridor’s future, and PubliCity in 2015, which was an initiative to inspire people to transform forgotten spaces (e.g. under train tracks, back lanes etc.) into meaningful public spaces. Land is scarce in Singapore, and SLA has conducted public consultation to gather feedback on the possible uses for land under viaducts. More recently, URA and SLA have called for innovative proposals to transform and rejuvenate dis-used State properties and land into vibrant places that complement their precinct character under a new programme called Reinventing Spaces into Vibrant Places (RSVP). We will continually keep a lookout for opportunities to involve the public in planning projects.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

The competition is open to architects and design professionals, tertiary students in the design field as well as to members of the public with a particular interest in design and the use of public spaces. There is no requirement for international teams to collaborate with local firms to participate in the competition.

 

Battersea Power Station case study: Q&A with Sebastien Ricard

The director at WilkinsonEyre discusses lessons learned designing an overhaul of London’s Grade II*-listed Battersea Power Station

Sebastien Ricard

Sebastien Ricard

Sebastien Ricard

How will your project transform the disused Battersea Power Station into a new attractive and inclusive mixed-use community?

Our approach is to celebrate the industrial heritage of the building, its scale and volumes and evolve the structure to encompass different uses, effectively creating a mini city within the power station. The mix of uses includes more than 250 homes, 45,000sqm of offices, more than 130 shops, an event space, a park, a public platform lift in one of the chimneys with a viewing platform 100m up in the air.

Having the right balance of activities within the building is what will make the project a success. It is a big challenge in major developments to create an active community from day one, however here we are lucky to be working with a place steeped in history. This combination of mixed-uses and heritage makes the scheme very appealing.

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Our design approach has been focused on the following:

Using the industrial architecture as an asset: there are reminders of the industrial heritage everywhere in the building as it’s always possible to see the main brick walls, the chimney, the ceramic tiles, the exposed riveted steel structure. By not over restoring the building, it’s been possible to retain the toughness of the envelop as a reminder of its previous use.

Retaining the sense of scale: this has been achieved by creating a spectacular 50m height atrium as the main entrance to the building, celebrating the epic volumes of the Turbine Halls by integrating walkways, light bridges linking each space, and creating open-plan workshop/studio spaces rather than traditional office spaces.

Creating a ‘box within a box’: this enables the new architecture and the existing architecture to complement each other.

Playing with scale: this building is also one of the most monumental buildings in London, so externally we have created a simple monumental extension at city scale, whereas internally the new interventions are refined to a human scale for the people who will live in this building.

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

What advice would you have to contest participants on rethinking the future of the Pasir Panjang Power District?

A disused power station offers numerous interesting challenges. Central to this is how to transform a building designed as an enclosed, large-span, utilitarian building with few windows and floors into a building which can be used for offices, residential, retail or recreation. The goal must be to create intimate spaces and bring human scale to a volume which was designed with machinery constraints in mind rather than human interaction.

At the same time, industrial buildings are being recognised as the ‘20th century’s new cathedrals’, they stand as emblems of our industrial heritage, which makes them important landmarks and part of our history.

The fact that a building is iconic, but not fit for purpose, is what sparks the magic and creates the architectural narrative: a fabulous challenge for an architect.

Candidates shouldn’t try to fight the nature or scale of Pasir Panjang’s industrial heritage, but use it as a source of inspiration to create unique and modern living/working spaces. Modernity isn’t just about creating an ideal space, but rather creating a unique space, with its own identity built on its heritage and local culture.

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

Battersea Power Station by WilkinsonEyre

 

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