Jurong Town Hall
by Kong, Yen Lin
Located at 9 Jurong Town Hall Road, Jurong Town Hall served as the headquarters of the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC; currently known as JTC Corporation) from 1974 until 2000.1 The building, which is considered a symbol of the success of the industrialisation programme in Jurong, was gazetted as a national monument in 2015. It continues to play a supporting role in the country’s economic development by serving as a hub for technology companies, with plans underway to develop it into a hub for trade associations by 2017.
JTC was established by the government in 1968 as a specialised agency to take over from the Economic Development Board (EDB) the task of developing and managing all industrial estates. This was to enable EDB to focus on attracting foreign investment and promoting economic growth.2 Aside from its primary responsibility of developing industrial land, JTC was also responsible for the provision of affordable housing and public amenities such as recreational spaces, markets and schools for Jurong’s resident workforce.3 The new agency initially occupied a converted block of low-cost flats at Yung Kuang Road.4
Construction work on Jurong Town Hall started in May 1971.5 Completed in March 1974, the building was officially inaugurated by then Minister for Finance Hon Sui Sen on 2 June 1975 as part of the weeklong celebrations commemorating JTC’s seventh anniversary. The S$9-million project was seen as an embodiment of the success of the industrialisation programme in Jurong that began in 1961.6
From its new base at Jurong Town Hall, JTC played a leading role in generating industrial infrastructure solutions to complement Singapore’s transition over the decades from a labour-intensive manufacturing economy to one that is high-technology and capital-intensive.7
Jurong Town Hall sits atop an 80-foot-long hill that offers a sweeping panorama of the Jurong estate below.8 With the recurring use of angular and modular motifs that convey rationality and efficiency, the building epitomises the rise in productivist culture in Singapore since the late 1960s as Jurong expanded its industrial capacity.9
The five-storey building consists of two parallel elongated blocks of unequal length connected by bridge floors that house a multipurpose hall and concourse between them.10 The concourse, which is covered with a glass roof to enable illumination by natural lighting, serves as the focal point of the architecture and doubles up as a civic space. Coupled with vertical fins, the upper floors that project outwards over one another and splay inwards at the sides provide ample shade as a response to Singapore’s tropical climate.11 The incorporation of modern materials and adaption of the building concept to suit the local climate is in line with the modern movement of architecture in Singapore.12
A unique architectural characteristic of the building is the 50-metre-high13 funnel-shaped digital clock tower with three faces – considered one of the largest in Southeast Asia at the time – which adds to the overall resemblance of the building to a ship by serving as the “mast”.14 The nautical references in the building’s design might have been inspired by vessels at the Jurong Shipyard Corporation.15 Other possible sources of influences for the building’s design include the Boston City Hall by Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles, and the Tokyo Festival Hall by Kunio Maekawa.16 The external facade, built with reinforced concrete finishing, is a further emphasis on Jurong Town Hall’s industrial function. An interesting detail lies in the use of buff-coloured ceramic tiles on the rampart walls, which are intended to match the tones of the earth and echo the slope of the hill.17
An architectural design competition was launched in 1969 to select a suitable design for the Jurong Town Hall, with local firm Architects Team 3 emerging as the winner.18 The competition’s panel of assessors comprised Ho Pak Toe, senior architect of the Public Works Department, Teh Cheang Wan, chief architect of the Housing Development Board, and Laurence Lau, senior architect of JTC. In their assessment report, the panel cited “the clarity of approach in design concept, the competent handling of form together with an overall sound planning” as some of the distinguishing factors of the winning submission.19 One of the key members of the winning team was Penang-born architect Lim Chong Keat, whose firm Malayan Architects Co-Partnership also won the design competition for the former Singapore Conference Hall and Trade Union House (now known as the Singapore Conference Hall) in 1962.20
The architectural intention was to achieve a building dignified in form and character, efficient and flexible in space and function, and well integrated with its site so as to be the nucleus from which the proposed Jurong Town Centre would develop.21
Other features and amenities
Beyond being an office space for JTC, Jurong Town Hall was also intended to be used by the public and organisations. At the time of its opening, the range of facilities available for public use included a 900-seater auditorium, a 100-seater lecture theatrette, a mezzanine floor with 6,000 sq ft of exhibition space and fully furnished committee rooms for meetings.22
Green spaces within the premises include the Garden of Fame, which is home to trees planted by various foreign dignitaries such as former Chinese Premier Li Peng and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei to commemorate their visits to JTC’s facilities.23 The first tree sapling in the garden, a tembusu, was planted by then United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim during a visit in 1979.24
In recognition of the role it played in Singapore’s economic and industrial progress, Jurong Town Hall was awarded conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on 25 November 2005 and gazetted by the National Heritage Board (NHB) as Singapore’s 69th national monument on 2 June 2015.25
This marked the first time that a conserved building was gazetted as a national monument and was an acknowledgement of the building’s national significance and JTC’s role in Singapore’s industrialisation. As a national monument, Jurong Town Hall is given the highest level of legal protection under strict preservation guidelines. The building also has to undergo regular inspections to ensure that it is properly maintained.26
The decision to gazette Jurong Town Hall as a national monument prompted some members of the Singapore Heritage Society to publish an opinion article in The Straits Times questioning the rationale behind the process of deciding which heritage buildings are worthy of conservation and protection.27
Jurong Town Hall was included among 12 landmarks as part of the Jurong Heritage Trail launched during the Singapore HeritageFest 2015. The trail was designed by the NHB to document and present the history and social memories of places in Singapore.28
Despite the relocation of JTC’s headquarters to the JTC Summit building in 2000, Jurong Town Hall continues to play a role in Singapore’s economic development. In 2000, it was briefly renamed as iHub to serve as a space for technology companies.29 In March 2015, JTC Corporation announced that the new Trade Association Hub (TA Hub) will be located at Jurong Town Hall by early 2017, with the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry coming on board as the anchor tenant.30 The TA Hub would act as a cluster point for trade associations to facilitate collaborations and the sharing of resources to promote industrial growth and upgrading.31
1968: JTC is formed to take over the development and management of industrial estates from EDB.
1969: The design of Jurong Town Hall is awarded to Architects Team 3 for submitting the winning entry in a nationwide design competition.
May 1971: Construction work begins on Jurong Town Hall.
1974: JTC moves into Jurong Town Hall. A JTC time capsule containing reports and photographs of Jurong, EDB and JTC from 1960 to 1973 is buried on the premises.32
2 Jun 1975: Jurong Town Hall officially opened by then Minister for Finance Hon Sui Sen.
1978: Anglo-Chinese Junior College organises a weeklong pre-university seminar at Jurong Town Hall.33
1980: Plot of land near Jurong Town Hall is set aside for the construction of the German-Singapore and French-Singapore technical training centres.34
1981: Hosts the first international tea auction ever to be held outside London.35
2000: JTC is renamed JTC Corporation and made a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.36 The corporate headquarters is relocated from Jurong Town Hall to JTC Summit. Jurong Town Hall is renamed iHub and becomes a space for technology companies.
25 Nov 2005: Jurong Town Hall awarded conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
2 Jun 2015: Jurong Town Hall gazetted by NHB as Singapore’s 69th national monument.
Kong Yen Lin
1. National Heritage Board. (2015, August 5). Jurong Town Hall. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from National Heritage Board website: http://www.nhb.gov.sg/places/sites-and-monuments/national-monuments/jurong-town-hall
2. Jurong Town Corporation. (1969). Annual report. Singapore: Author, pp. 1–2 (Call no.: RCLOS 352.0072 JTCAR); Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. Acts supplement. (1968, June 1). Jurong Town Corporation Act, 1968 (No. 5 of 1968). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 45. (Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGAS); National Heritage Board. (2015, August 5). Jurong Town Hall. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from National Heritage Board website: http://www.nhb.gov.sg/places/sites-and-monuments/national-monuments/jurong-town-hall
3. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary debates: Official report. (1968, May 21). Second Reading of the Jurong Town Corporation Bill (Vol. 27). Singapore: [s.n], cols 357–359. (Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN); Better amenities for Jurong residents. (1968, May 22). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
4. JTC to move into new home. (1972, January 20). New Nation, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Work under way on Jurong town hall, shop complex. (1971, December 20). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. 6-day joy to mark JTC’s seventh year. (1975, May 29). The Straits Times, p. 17; Industrial success embodied in Jurong's magnificent landmark. (1975, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Kan, F. (n.d.). 1 June 1968: Jurong Town Corporation created. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from the Days that Changed Singapore website: http://www.daysthatchangedsingapore.com/jurong-town-corporation-created/
8. Industrial success embodied in Jurong’s magnificent landmark. (1975, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Wong Y.C. (2007). Singapore 1:1 island: A Gallery of architecture & urban Design. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, pp. 34–39. (Call No.: RSING 720.95957 WON)
10. Industrial success embodied in Jurong's magnificent landmark. (1975, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Public Works Department. (1974). Jurong Town Hall. Singapore: Jurong Town Hall, p. 10. Available via PublicationSG.
12. National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Architecture & the ETH Zurich Future Cities Laboratory (FCL). Singapore Tropicana. Singapore & Zurich: NUS & FCL, p. 59. (Not available in NLB holdings)
13. Tan, A. (2015, June 2). Jurong Town Hall played an important role in Singapore’s history. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
14. All set for opening of $7 mil Jurong Town Hall. (1975, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 7; Industrial success embodied in Jurong's magnificent landmark. (1975, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 11; Jurong landmark among 14 buildings to be conserved. (2005, September 27). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Lim, J. (Ed.). (2001). Transforming traditions: Architecture in the ASEAN countries. Singapore: ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information, p. 202. (Call no.: RSING q720.95 TRA)
16. Kong, L. (2011). Conserving the past, creating the future: Urban heritage in Singapore. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority, p. 168. (Call no.: RSING 363.69095957 KON)
17. Public Works Department. (1974). Jurong Town Hall. Singapore: Jurong Town Hall, p. 23. Available via PublicationSG.
18. Jurong Town Hall. (1969, October 26). The Straits Times, p. 8; Design winners. (1969, December 6). The Straits Times, p.10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Jurong Town Hall Architectural Design Competition. (1970, March–April). SIAJ: Journal of the Singapore Institute of Architects, 3, 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 720.5 SIAJ)
20. Winners of design contest named. (1962, March 18). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lee, V. (2015, November 16). Singapore Conference Hall designer Lim Chong Keat is renaissance man. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from The Straits Times website: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/singapore-conference-hall-designer-lim-chong-keat-is-renaissance-man
21. Public Works Department. (1974). Jurong Town Hall. Singapore: Jurong Town Hall, p. 10. Available via PublicationSG.
22. Industrial success embodied in Jurong’s magnificent landmark. (1975, June 2). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. National Heritage Board. (2015). Jurong Heritage Trail, p. 53. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from National HeritageFest 2015 website: http://heritagefest.sg/explore-heritage/~/media/af3f846c5308487785171da3b0bcdf71.ashx
24. A tree sapling that ‘symbolises the world’. (1979, May 13). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Tan, A. (2015, June 1). Jurong Town Hall will be gazetted as national monument. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from The Straits Times website: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jurong-town-hall-will-be-gazetted-as-national-monument; National Heritage Board. (2015, June 1). National Heritage Board gazettes Jurong Town Hall as Singapore’s 69th national monument [Press release], pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from National Heritage Board website: http://www.nhb.gov.sg/~/media/nhb/files/media/releases/new%20releases/2015-2.pdf
26. National Heritage Board. (2015, June 1). National Heritage Board gazettes Jurong Town Hall as Singapores 69th national monument [Press release], p. 2. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from National Heritage Board website: http://www.nhb.gov.sg/~/media/nhb/files/media/releases/new%20releases/2015-2.pdf
27. Yeo, K. S., & Chong, T. (2015, June 17). What makes a national monument? Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
28. National Heritage Board. (2015). Explore heritage – Jurong heritage trail. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from Singapore HeritageFest 2015 website: http://heritagefest.sg/explore-heritage/jurong-heritage-trail
29. Chew, H. M. (2015, June 3). Jurong Town Hall ‘a baby’ among national monuments. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
30. JTC Corporation. (2015, March 16). JTC’s Trade Association Hub in Jurong to open in early 2017 with SCCCI as the anchor chamber [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from JTC Corporation website: http://www.jtc.gov.sg/news-and-publications/press-releases/Pages/20150317(PR1).aspx
31. Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry. (2015, June 2). SCCCI welcomes first batch of trade associations at JTC’s Trade Association Hub [Press release], pp. 1–2. Retrieved 2016, March 30, from Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry website: http://www.sccci.org.sg/Download.cfm?DObjID=2756&Mode=1&FN=/20150602%20SCCCI%20welcomes%20first%20batch%20of%20TAs%20at%20JTC%20TA%20Hub_Final.pdf
32. A time capsule for 2001 AD. (1974, February 22). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. ‘Make politics a subject’ call by students. (1978, June 3). New Nation, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. More training centres are being set up in Jurong. (1980, February 22). The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. First world tea auction held in Singapore. (1981, December 3). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
36. Chong, V. (2000, November 16). It’s now JTC Corporation. The Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ministry of Trade and Industry. (2012). About MTI: JTC Corporation (JTC). Retrieved 2016, March 30, from Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore website: http://www.mti.gov.sg/AboutMTI/Pages/JTC%20Corporation%20(JTC).aspx?tag=Statutory%20Boards
Campbell, W. (1969, August 7). Jurong building to attract workers and families. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The Rumah Editorial Committee. (1981). Rumah, contemporary architecture of Singapore. Singapore: Singapore Institute of Architects.
(Call no.: RSING 722.4095957 RUM)
What makes a national monument. (1996, February 12). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 31 March 2016 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.