Marina Bay



Marina Bay is a waterfront site located in Singapore’s central region. The bay area was created by reclaiming land around the body of water in front of Collyer Quay to form Marina Centre, Marina East and Marina South. The Marina Bay area has been developed over the years to become Singapore’s new downtown for the 21st century, with a financial centre, civic space and gardens situated within its boundaries.

Early history
Marina Bay was once just a body of water off Collyer Quay where ships docked for their passengers to be transferred to small boats that then ferried them to Johnston’s Pier (replaced by Clifford Pier in 1933). Cargo ships too big to enter the mouth of the Singapore River also anchored in the bay to load their goods onto lighters (also known as bumboats) for transfer to the godowns along the river bank.1 As part of the government’s plans to clean up Singapore’s waterways, the lighters that once populated the bay were relocated to new berths at Pasir Panjang Wharves in 1982.2

Physical development
The bay was transformed in the 1970s following several stages of land reclamation work to construct the East Coast Parkway (ECP) expressway.3 In 1973, the government announced plans to build a S$300-million expressway that would cut across the Collyer Quay waterfront to ease expected congestion to and from the city, and provide a seamless drive from Changi to Jurong. To support this project, land was reclaimed off Nicoll Highway and along the Clifford Pier breakwater, in the process creating a new site known as Marina Centre. Marina Centre was expected to be a showpiece for the city, comprising commercial and residential developments as well as a performing arts centre that would enliven the area at night.4 In 1979, the government embarked on further land reclamation works in the area, adding earth fill from Tampines to fill the shoreline from Katong to Tanjong Rhu and at Telok Ayer Basin.5 This reclamation project created Marina East and Marina South, which, together with Marina Centre, formed a 660-hectare reclaimed site called Marina City.6 By 1984, plans had been put in place for further reclamation works that would create the shore profile of Marina Bay as we know it today.7

Urban development
Marina Centre
The 106-hectare Marina Centre, the earliest to be developed, is the smallest of the three plots of reclaimed land around Marina Bay.8 In 1978, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched the inaugural sale of land in Marina Centre and, for the first time, foreign developers were invited to participate in the tender.9 By 1985, the Marina Square shopping complex had opened, followed by a string of hotels: Marina Mandarin, Pan Pacific Singapore and Mandarin Oriental Singapore. In the subsequent decades, Millenia Walk, Suntec City and the Singapore Flyer were added to the area.10

In the mid-1980s, Marina Centre was fronted by the 10.8-hectare Marina Park that stretched from the old Satay Club to the Merdeka Bridge in Kallang. Lining the promenade were Metamorphosis I, a futuristic steel sculpture by American artist Obie Simmons, and Stamford, a solar clock-cum-directional light beacon put up by the then Port of Singapore Authority to guide ships sailing into Marina Bay and Kallang Basin.11

Marina South and Downtown Core
Marina South, spanning 266 ha, was planned to be the “jewel” of the three plots. Detailed plans for the site were first outlined in 1984 after two renowned architects, Japanese Kenzo Tange and Chinese American I. M. Pei, were commissioned by the government to propose plans for developing a new downtown in the area.12  Responding to URA’s “green and blue” vision – developments sitting amid greenery and bodies of water, thus recalling Singapore’s character as a tropical island – Tange proposed a radial principle that reflected the existing curvature of the ECP, drawing out major roads that radiated out from the bay like fingers. Pei’s plan was more rectilinear and based on a grid that integrated with the existing Central Business District (CBD). This resulted in regularly shaped land parcels that could be sold incrementally. The government chose Pei’s plan, which would influence later concepts of development for the area.14

An early proposal for Marina South was to turn it into an attraction to boost tourism. In 1987, the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (STPB) (now known as the Singapore Tourism Board, or STB) put out a tender to build an entertainment complex on a 21-hectare plot in Marina South.14 This tender, which became known as the Singapore Entertainment Centre project, was revised a year later to include hotels and a berth for yachts. The project struggled to get off the ground due to numerous changes to the tender requirements.15 In 1994, URA resurfaced the plan for a theme park in the area. Despite receiving three bids, it did not award the tender because the bid submissions did not meet expectations.16

In 1986, plans were afoot to turn 58 ha of Marina South into a park area for use as a venue for the Singapore International Garden Festival to be held in 1989.17 Although the festival was eventually shelved, the government announced in 1988 that a smaller 30-hectare area would be turned into the Marina South City Park instead. This recreation hub was to be “a green jewel in the heart of a modern city” with a constellation plaza for stargazing, a lake with waterfront terraces, an open theatre and a sculpture park.18  Completed the following year, the park later became a popular spot for kite-flying and was situated next to bowling alleys and steamboat restaurants.19 The sculpture park contained the statues of eight famous personalities in Chinese history, including that of Chinese admiral Zheng He, donated by local food manufacturing company Tee Yih Jia.20 Another sculpture found in the park was artist Elsie Yu’s 13-metre-high brass and stainless steel piece.21

In 1992, URA released development guide plans for the Downtown Core, a U-shaped area encircling Marina Bay that was to be Singapore’s downtown of the 21st century. This area combined the existing CBD, City Hall and Marina Centre with two sections of Marina South – Central and Bayside – bounded by the ECP. Central and Bayside would consist of offices, hotels, entertainment facilities and some housing developments facing Marina Bay. On the seaward-facing side of the ECP, the southwest area of Marina South became known as Portview, which was slated for residential projects. Throughout the Downtown Core and Portview, there would be extensive greenery, a pedestrian-friendly environment, cultural facilities as anchors and a trademark skyline.22

The plans were further articulated in 1996 with the release of URA’s publication New Downtown – Ideas for the City of Tomorrow. Bayside was renamed Bayfront, while Portview became Straits View. The section of the ECP that had cut Marina South into two became a major road instead. In place of it was to be a new coastal expressway running along the coast.23 This expressway eventually became the Marina Coastal Expressway, Singapore’s first undersea road when it opened in December 2013.24

The next major development came in 2002 when URA appointed Mapletree Investments, a special projects unit of Temasek Holdings, to review the masterplan. Mapletree brought in American consultants Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to conduct a study to further refine the plan of Marina Bay. SOM’s recommendations included refining the road grid to allow for more flexible land parcels and carparks closer to individual developments, shifting high-rises further from the water’s edge to accentuate the layered effect, and creating new bridges – today’s Helix and Bayfront – that link Marina South to Marina Centre. These proposals were eventually incorporated into the 2003 Master Plan.25

Plans for the final southeastern area of Marina South were addressed with two major developments. In 2005, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Marina City Park was to make way for three gardens in Marina South, Marina Centre and Marina East that collectively became known as Gardens by the Bay.26 In 2008, the Marina Barrage, a dam that bridged Marina East and Marina South, was completed at a cost of S$226 million. The 350-metre-long dam was built to protect the city area from flooding.27 It also transformed Marina Bay into Singapore’s 15th reservoir, known as Marina Reservoir.28

Marina East
Across Marina Centre and Marina South is the 318-hectare Marina East.29 The private residences of Tanjong Rhu – which are examples of “new indigenous” architecture as drawn out by URA’s 1989 Master Plan to create a distinct identity for the area – sit on the side of the ECP facing the Kallang Basin.30 On the seaward-facing side is the Marina Bay Golf Course, Singapore’s first 18-hole public golf course. The 68-hectare development opened in 2006, but is slated to close by 2024 to make way for redevelopment.31 Adjacent to the golf course is Bay East Garden, which is part of Gardens by the Bay. It is also one of two sites, the other being Fort Canning Park, that is being considered for the upcoming memorial to honour Singapore’s founding fathers.32 The undeveloped land on the other side of the golf course was considered by the Singapore Motor Sports Club to be used as a Formula One Grand Prix circuit in 1991.33 Then in 2006, it was reported that the government had offered the land to Walt Disney to build a theme park, though there was no further progress.34 Most recently in 2015, the Public Utilities Board announced that Singapore’s fourth desalination plant would be built in Marina East.35

Marina Bay
In the 1987 draft masterplan for Marina Bay, the area was envisioned to be a waterfront setting for public events and national celebrations, with Marina South as a focal point of the city’s new downtown. To form a continuous urban waterfront promenade around the bay, the plan identified a need to link the bay to its surroundings and further reclaim Collyer Quay to create a pedestrian mall.36 SOM’s 2003 review of the area also saw Marina Bay take on greater prominence as a “water piazza” of Marina South.37 This vision was turned into reality two years later when URA announced that it was spending S$300 million to transform the bay area into a 3.35-kilometre-long waterfront promenade stretching from Clifford Pier to Marina City Park.38


Infrastructure
Common Services Tunnel
Marina Bay is the first in Southeast Asia to have a network of underground tunnels housing all cabling and piping for water, power and telecommunications in order to save space on the ground level. Known as the Common Services Tunnel, the first phase of this network was completed in 2006.39 The underground network also houses Singapore’s first large-scale district cooling system.40

Bridges
Various bridges make it easy to get around Marina Bay by foot. The Helix pedestrian bridge, modelled after the DNA structure, was completed in 2010, linking Marina Centre with Marina South. In the same year, the parallel Bayfront Bridge for vehicles was built to provide direct access to Marina Bay Sands, while the Jubilee Bridge was erected in 2015 to link the Merlion Park and the promenade in front of the Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay. Above Marina Barrage is the Marina Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that connects Marina South to Marina East.41


MRT stations
Marina Bay is currently served by three Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines: North–South, Circle and Downtown lines, with Thomson Line in the works.42 Marina Bay station was opened in 1989 as part of the North–South Line.43 In 2005, the government extended the Circle Line to Marina South, calling it the “Downtown Extension”.44 When this extension finally opened in 2012, it only connected to Marina Bay station and a new Bayfront station that offered access to Marina Bay Sands and the then upcoming Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Financial Centre.45

A portion of the Downtown Line, including the Downtown, Bayfront and Promenade stations, opened in 2013.46 The latest station to open in the area is Marina South Pier, which was unveiled in 2014, stretching the North–South Line beyond Marina Bay. It will be joined by the stations Gardens by the Bay and Marina South in 2021 when the Thomson–East Coast Line is completed.47

Marina Bay Cruise Centre
To meet the news of a growing cruise industry, the two-berth Marina Bay Cruise Centre opened in 2012 at the southwestern tip of Marina South.48 In 2014, the centre’s facilities underwent a S$7-million upgrade to speed up boarding and disembarking times for passengers.49

Lighting masterplan
In 2006, URA created a signature night skyline for Marina Bay to bring out the area’s architectural elements and create inviting spaces for outdoor activities. The Marina Bay Sands resort also created Wonder Full, a free nightly 13-minute performance featuring laser, light, water movement and graphics.50

Branding Marina Bay
“Marina Bay” was chosen as the official name for the area following a year-long search for a brand name to market the waterfront district to international developers. Brand consultancy Interbrand was paid S$400,000 to come up with the name; after going through some 400 possible options, it settled on “Marina Bay” because the name appealed to developers, retailers, restaurant owners and tour operators. This was previously an informal name for the area, which had been called variously “New Downtown”, “extension of the CBD” and “Marina Bayfront”. The name was accompanied by the tagline “Explore. Exchange. Entertain. Singapore.” – alluding to the area as a space for work, life and play.51


Landmarks
Marina Centre

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
This performing arts complex was opened in 2002 on the end of Marina Centre, close to the Singapore River.52 In 1979, a committee was formed to make recommendations for a cultural complex on a four-hectare site at Marina City.53 A decade later, the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts proposed building a performing arts centre on the site.54 The site on which the Esplanade stands had been earmarked for a cultural facility in the 1992 development guide plan for the Downtown Core.55

The Float @ Marina Bay
Next to the Esplanade is the world’s first and largest floating stage. The Float @ Marina Bay was created to serve as an interim venue following the closure of the National Stadium and before the completion of the new Singapore Sports Hub. The Defence Science and Technology Agency, URA and the Singapore Sports Council took some 13 months to construct this 120-metre-by-83-metre platform that can bear up to 1,070 tonnes. It was ready in 2007 to host the National Day Parade, the first of several held at Marina Bay.56 Besides the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games,57 The Float has also hosted several editions of the River Hongbao festival, which is part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.58 Although the platform was designed to be a temporary structure that would be in use until 2012, events are still held on The Float as at 2016.59


Youth Olympic Park
Between the floating platform and Helix Bridge is the Youth Olympic Park – Singapore’s first art park. It was created to commemorate Singapore’s hosting of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010. The park contains the first public art sculptures to be showcased under the Marina Bay Public Art programme sponsored by URA.60

Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer is a 165-metre-high observation wheel located at the tip of Marina Centre. Launched in 2008, the tourist attraction is one of the tallest Ferris wheels in the world.61

Marina South
Marina Bay Sands
This “integrated resort” – a development that houses a casino as well as other amenities including a hotel, a museum, a convention centre, restaurants and a park62 – looking across Collyer Quay was opened in 2010. Marina Bay Sands saw the controversial introduction of legalised gambling in Singapore.63


ArtScience Museum
On the Marina South end of the Helix Bridge is this private museum that is part of Marina Bay Sands. The site on which it stands was first drawn out as a promontory in I. M. Pei’s masterplan.64

Gardens by the Bay
Behind Marina Bay Sands is Gardens by the Bay, a set of three gardens linked by a promenade. It was created to balance the densely built Marina Bay with green relief. The largest area of the gardens is the 54-hectare Bay South, which contains glasshouses and manmade “supertrees”, which are up to 50 m tall and equipped with environmentally friendly features. Bay East is a garden at Marina East that links to East Coast Park. Bay Central on Marina Centre stretches from the Helix Bridge to Kallang.65
 

Marina Barrage
Beyond serving as a dam, the barrage has a green roof that is popular for kite-flying, picnics and wedding photography.66 Other features include a water playground and courtyard that are suited for parties and functions, offering a view of the Singapore city skyline. In addition, the barrage is home to a series of water-inspired sculptures made by various local and international artists.67 There is also a Sustainable Singapore Gallery that demonstrates the city’s environmental efforts.68

Marina Bay Financial Centre
Next to Marina Bay Sands is the heart of Singapore’s new financial hub. Completed in 2013, the Marina Bay Financial Centre was developed by the government to rival other international financial hubs such as London and New York.69

Collyer Quay
The stretch of buildings along Collyer Quay have been redeveloped to retain their heritage while offering entertainment options. Examples of such buildings include the former Customs Harbour Branch, the Change Alley Aerial Plaza Tower, and the new entertainment development, One Fullerton.70

Merlion

In 2002, Singapore’s tourism mascot was moved to One Fullerton overlooking Marina Bay. The Merlion’s view of the sea from its original location at the mouth of the Singapore River had been blocked by the construction of the Esplanade Bridge in 1997.71

Events
Formula One Powerboat Race
From 1986 to 1992, a leg of this powerboating race was held at Marina Bay until it was closed for reclamation works.72 In 2003, the race returned to the bay and was held for four years before it was postponed indefinitely due to the renovation of the floating platform and a lack of sponsorship.73

Formula One Singapore Grand Prix
In 2008, Marina Bay hosted the first-ever Formula One Singapore Grand Prix night race, which has since become an annual event.74 The Marina Bay Street Circuit begins at the pit located at the tip of Marina Centre and cuts through Marina Centre. Along the way, it offers views of the bay’s many landmarks, including the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands.75

i Light Marina Bay
This light art festival organised by URA has been held at Marina Bay since 2010. Artists and designers from around the world are invited to create sustainable light art installations to showcase how the waterfront can be transformed by light.76


Marina Bay Singapore Countdown
Since 2005, the Esplanade and URA have been organising the New Year countdown event at the bay area. For the 2015 edition, Singaporeans and visitors were invited to write their wishes for the nation on white spheres that were then lit and released onto the bay as part of Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.77




Author
Justin Zhuang



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Auger, T. (2015). A river transformed: Singapore River and Marina Bay. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, pp. 114–117. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 AUG); Gardens by the Bay. (n.d.). Supertree Grove. Retrieved 2016, June 8 from Gardens by the Bay website: http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/the-gardens/supertree-grove/facts-and-figures.html
66.Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2015). The Marina Bay story: 2008. Retrieved 2016, June 20 from Urban Redevelopment Authority, Marina Bay website: https://www.marina-bay.sg/about-marina-bay/marina-bay-story/2007-2012/new-attractions.aspx#2008  
67.
Public Utilities Board. (n.d.). Arts Trail. Retrieved 2016, June 20 from Public Utilities Board website: https://www.pub.gov.sg/marinabarrage/mustsee/artstrail  
68.
PUB. (n.d.). Sustainable Singapore Gallery. Retrieved 2016, June 20 from Marina Barrage website: https://www.pub.gov.sg/marinabarrage/ssg  
69.
Auger, T. (2015). A river transformed: Singapore River and Marina Bay. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 104. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 AUG)  
70.
Auger, T. (2015). A river transformed: Singapore River and Marina Bay. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 118. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 AUG)
71.
Chia, S.-A. (2002, September 16). Merlion unveiled at new spot in Fullerton. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
72.
Sivakkumaran, G. (2003, March 16). F1 Powerboating returns to S'pore. The Straits Times, p. 40. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
73.
F1 Powerboat race postponed. (2007, November 24). The Business Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
74.
Auger, T. (2015). A river transformed: Singapore River and Marina Bay. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 191. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 AUG)
75.
Singapore Grand Prix. (n.d.). Circuit park map. Retrieved 2016, May 16 from Singapore Grand Prix website: http://www.singaporegp.sg/Uploaded/pdf_path/2016-Circuit-Map-EN.pdf  
76.
Auger, T. (2015). A river transformed: Singapore River and Marina Bay. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 174. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 AUG) 
77.
Light up your life this new year. (2005, 1 December). Today, p. 56. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Auger, T. (2015). A river transformed: Singapore River and Marina Bay. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, p. 169. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 AUG)

Further resources
Centre for Liveable Cities. (2016). Urban redevelopment: From urban squalor to global city. Singapore: Author. (Call no.: RSING 307.1216095957 URB)



The information in this article is valid as at December 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places