Henderson Waves and Alexandra Arch

Henderson Waves and Alexandra Arch are two key linkages that form part of the Southern Ridges walking trail connecting Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge, in the southwestern part of Singapore. Spanning Henderson Road and Alexandra Road respectively, the two pedestrian bridges have striking designs that make them easy landmarks.1 Completed in 2008, they are part of the government's plan to enhance the Southern Ridges as a recreational destination.

In 2002, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched an Identity Plan that aimed to preserve and enhance the unique qualities of selected areas in Singapore. These areas included the Southern Ridges, and URA’s plan was to improve access to and connectivity within this 9 km chain of hills. One of the key ideas proposed was building a series of pedestrian linkages to connect Mount Faber, Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge, including two bridges over Henderson Road and Alexandra Road.2

As part of its public consultation exercise, URA held a three-month exhibition of the Identity Plan, and members of the public were encouraged to give their feedback through survey forms either at the exhibition or online. Subject groups comprising professionals, representatives from interest groups and laymen were also formed to study the proposals. After considering feedback gathered through the public survey and stakeholder meetings, the subject group members unanimously supported the idea of creating the continuous ridge-to-ridge connection; an idea that was also well received by the general public, with more than 90% of survey respondents in agreement.3

In 2003, an international competition was launched to seek designs for the proposed bridges over Henderson Road and Alexandra Road. Two designs were picked from among the five merit award winners. For the Henderson link, it chose the design submitted jointly by Singapore firm RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, and British architects, IJP Corporation. For the Alexandra link, it selected the design submitted by a Singapore team comprising LOOK Architects and ECAS-EJ Consultants.4

The 274 m long and 8 mwide Henderson Waves connects Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill. It is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore at 36 m above Henderson Road. Its distinctive wave-like structure comes from seven undulating curved “ribs” that alternate above and below the bridge deck, and double up as a shelter for visitors.5

The smaller of the two bridges, Alexandra Arch measures 80 m long and 4 m wide. This steel-and-granite structure is designed to resemble an open fig leaf with its curved deck intersecting an arch that is tilted at a 70-degree angle. It is linked to Henderson Waves via two walkways, the 1 km Hilltop Walk and the 1.3 km Forest Walk. At the other end of the bridge is Floral Walk, which leads to the Horticulture Park, which in turn is linked to Kent Ridge via the Canopy Walk.6

Together, the two bridges and various other walkways provide a seamless link between the three hills of the Southern Ridges. Along the trail, visitors can enjoy impressive views of the city, the harbour and the Southern Islands. The trail also provides an opportunity for visitors to be close to nature, as they walk through some of the most forested areas of Singapore. At night, the two bridges are particularly outstanding as they are lit daily after 7 pm.7

23 Jul 2002: URA launches the Identity Plan.8
23 Jul−22 Oct 2002: Public consultation exercise for the Identity Plan.9
Nov 2002: Subject group releases its report, giving its recommendations regarding the proposals.10
27 Nov 2003: URA launches an international design competition for the bridges over Henderson Road and Alexandra Road.
24 Jun 2004: Results of the design competition are announced. There are no winners but, five designs were given merit awards.11
Jul 2004: Merit award winners are interviewed by a selection panel comprising representatives from URA, the National Parks Board and the Building and Construction Authority.12
7 Sep 2004: URA announces the selected designs for the two bridges.13
Apr 2006: Construction of the bridge at Alexandra Road commences.14
Sep 2006
: Construction of the bridge at Henderson Road commences.15

10 May 2008: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opens the bridges and unveils their names. The Monetary Authority of Singapore launches a set of commemorative coins featuring the two bridges in their designs.16
Jul 2008: Henderson Waves is shortlisted for the inaugural World Architecture Festival Awards under the transport category.17 (The Nordpark Cable Railway in Austria won the award in October 2008).18


Valerie Chew

1.Teo Cheng Wee, “Two New Bridges = a 9km Scenic Walk,” Straits Times. 11 May 2008, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Urban Redevelopment Authority, “Parks & Waterbodies Plan and Identity Plan” (Subject Group on Urban Villages and Southern Ridges & Hillside Villages, November 2002)
3. Urban Redevelopment Authority, “URA’s Parks & Waterbodies and Identity Plans Receive Strong Public Support,” press release, 25 November 2002.
4. B. Low, “The Fun Never Stops at Southern Ridges,” Skyline (October 2004). (Call no. RSING 354.5957091 S)
5. Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, A DIY Guide to the Southern Ridges (Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, 2007).
6. Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, Guide to the Southern Ridges.
7. Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, Guide to the Southern Ridges.
8. Urban Redevelopment Authority, “Parks & Waterbodies Plan and Identity Plan.”
9. Urban Redevelopment Authority, “Parks & Waterbodies Plan and Identity Plan.”
10. Urban Redevelopment Authority, “Parks & Waterbodies Plan and Identity Plan.”
11. Low, “Fun Never Stops at Southern Ridges.”
12. Low, “Fun Never Stops at Southern Ridges.”
13. Low, “Fun Never Stops at Southern Ridges.”
14. L. Ng, “Bridges with a View,” Skyline (February 2008). (Call no. RSING 354.5957091 S)
15. Ng, “Bridges with a View.”
16. Teo, “Two New Bridges”; Monetary Authority of Singapore, “MAS launches 2008 Singapore Identity Plan (Southern Ridges) Coins,” press release, 10 May 2008.
17. Tay Suan Chiang, “Bridge Up for Award,” Straits Times, 2 August 2008, 114. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Isabelle Lomholt, “World Architecture Festival Awards: 2008, Barcelona,” e-Architect, accessed 10 June 2016.

The information in this article is valid as of 2008 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.





Streets and Places