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Completion of People’s Park Complex Jun 1973

Completed in June 1973, People’s Park Complex is Singapore’s first multi-use development that brought shopping, residential, office and car park facilities under one roof.[1] It is also the first shopping centre in Singapore to implement the concept of the atrium (known as the “city room”) that was conceptualised by the Japanese Metabolist movement. Its success was modelled by subsequent retail development projects in Singapore and the region.[2] Located in the heart of Chinatown, this landmark project was designed by Design Partnership (now DP Architects) and is regarded as an icon of Asian modernist architecture in Singapore.[3]

The site of the People’s Park Complex was previously occupied by an open-air market of makeshift stalls located at the foot of Pearl’s Hill. Although the market was popular, it was also congested and exposed to the elements such as rain. After an outbreak of fire, the site was offered for redevelopment in the first Sale of Sites by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 1967.[4]

The People’s Park Complex is a 31-storey building with a floor area of 10,358.7 sq m and was built at the cost of S$12 million.[5] Its design features two distinct zones. From the ground level, a six-storey retail and commercial podium accommodates over 300 shops, offices and eateries arranged along a naturally ventilated public concourse. A 25-storey slab block above the podium houses 264 apartments for high-rise living, as well as wide pedestrian corridors termed “streets-in-the-air” and a roof deck for community interaction.[6] The integration of social and private spaces in vertical form has been linked to concepts such as the “instant city”,[7] Le Corbusier’s Marseilles Habitation[8] and the transitional shophouse.[9] The building’s original exterior finish of exposed raw concrete also bears stylistic influences from the popular Brutalist architecture of the post-war era.[10]

As one of the earliest private sector involvement in the urban renewal programme, the People’s Park Complex was able to successfully recreate the vibrancy of the former bazaar (marketplace) while contributing to the regeneration of the downtown area.[11] Described as a “condensed version of a Chinese downtown”,[12] the shopping complex drew a million visitors in its first month of opening in October 1970. The internal atrium was also a popular venue for exhibitions and cultural shows.[13]

1. Wong, Y. C., et. al. (2005). Singapore 1:1 city: A gallery of architecture & urban design (pp. 158–161). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority. Call no.: RSING 720.95957 WON; DP Architects. (2014). People’s Park Complex. Retrieved July 22, 2014, from DP Architects website: http://www.dpa.com.sg/projects/peoples-park-complex/
2. Lim, W. S. W. (1990). Cities for people: Reflections of a Southeast Asian architect (p. 8). Singapore: Select Books. Call no.: RSING 711.40959 LIM; Wong, 2005, pp. 159–160.
3. Wong, 2005, pp. 158–159.
4. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1983). A pictorial chronology of the sale of sites programme for private development (p. 25). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority. Call no.: RSING 333.77095957 PIC; Tyers, R. K., & Siow, J. H. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now (p. 185). Singapore: Landmark Books. Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]; DP Architects, 2014.
5. Wong, 2005, p. 158.
6. Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1983, p. 25; Wong, 2005, pp. 159–160; DP Architects, 2014; Bay, J. H. P. (2001). Three tropical design paradigms (p. 238). In L, Lefaivre, B. Stagno & A. Tzonis (Eds.) Tropical architecture: Critical regionalism in the age of globalization. New York; Chichester: Wiley-Academy. Call no.: RART 721.0913 TRO.
7. Wong, 2005, p. 159.
8. Beamish, J. (1985). A history of Singapore architecture: The making of a city (p. 160). Singapore: G. Brash. Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 BEA; Wong, 2005, p. 160.
9. Tyers & Siow, 1993, p. 185.
10. Wong, 2005, p. 160.
11. Singapore Institute of Architects. (1981). Rumah, contemporary architecture of Singapore (p. 54). Singapore: Singapore Institute of Architects. Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 RUM; Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1983, p. 25.
12. Sigler, J. (Ed.). (1998). Small, medium, large, extra-large: Office of Metropolitan Architecture, Rem Koolhaas, and Bruce Mau (p. 1067). New York: N.Y.: Monacelli Press. Call no.: RART 720.92 SMA
13. Bay, 2001, p. 241.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 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.

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