St James Power Station #Heritage
📷: St James Power Station after restoration (Photo credit: Urban Redevelopment Authority)
Just slightly off the entrance to Sentosa island stands the former St James Power Station — a monumental witness to Singapore’s transformation from a modest trading port to today’s world-class city.
Built in 1927, this was at first a coal-fired power plant, supplying electricity to nearby shipyards, factories and residences. Until 1962, it powered much of Keppel Harbour.
St James Power Station showcases the Modernist architectural style, which favours minimalist and voluminous spaces. The building’s red-bricked façade features huge steel windows with green glazing, allowing natural light to penetrate while reducing glare from the harsh tropical sunlight.
When demand for electricity rose beyond its capacity over the years, St James Power Station frequently suffered shutdowns and was finally decommissioned in 1975. In 1982, it was converted into Southeast Asia’s first fully automated warehouse. In the late 1990s to early 2000s, it underwent a major overhaul as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s plan to transform the Harbourfront Precinct into a commercial and lifestyle hub. St James Power Station reopened as a powerhouse entertainment complex in 2006, where thousands party in cavernous settings till 6am, unlike anywhere else in town. In 2009 it was gazetted as a national monument.
Another massive restoration took place in 2018 to adapt the building into the headquarters for a global technology company. The chimney now houses a heritage gallery on Singapore’s power generation story. The former turbine hall is now a four-storey atrium with a helical staircase as its centrepiece. The refreshed landscaping and new heritage trail featuring maritime artefacts enhance the gravitas of the building. Admission for the gallery and trail is free for the public. The restoration project won an award in the Singapore Institute of Architects Architectural Design Awards and the URA Architectural Heritage Award in 2022.
Today, the building’s historical architectural elements combined with modern features remind us of Singapore’s legacies and transformations, as it powers forwards with our nation, into the future.
#heritage #Singaporeheritage #Singaporearchitecture #architecture #StJamesPowerStation #Harbourfront #vivocity