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The Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore Gets New Wings

GreenhilLi designs two strikingly contemporary titanium-clad extensions for the 148-year-old building on One Empress Place.

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BY Janice Seow

January 7th, 2016


Top Image: Asian Civilisations Museum Riverfront Entrance 

In over 140 years of its history, the building in Singapore which today houses the Asian Civilisations Museum has undergone several extensions and modifications. All of these were in keeping with the original style of the building. The latest extensions are, however, “unapologetically contemporary” according to homegrown architectural firm GreenhilLi, and are meant to form “interesting counterpoints” to the existing development.

 Asian Civilisation Museum
Asian Civilisations Museum Riverfront Entrance 

“The architecture of the new extensions does not mimic the past, rather it honestly represents architecture of the 21st century while successfully complementing and integrating with the existing building,” the architects explain.

“In the process, much respect has been accorded to the national monument; no part of the heritage building is demolished, rather, where past unsympathetic insertions have removed heritage façade features, these have been restored and revealed for the first time in years,” they add.

Asian Civilisation Museum
Kwek Hong Png Wing

The architecture of the new 869-square-metre Kwek Hong Png Wing takes the form of a metallic titanium cuboid that juts out from the colonial neoclassical façade of the existing historical building, one level above the ground.

Asian Civilisation Museum

Kwek Hong Png Wing

Three contemporary purpose-built galleries are housed over three levels. The first floor gallery space features a three-storey-high daylight-filled glass atrium, and the existing and new galleries are seamlessly connected via lightweight bridges.

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Contemporary Project Gallery – Grains of Thought exhibition at Kwek Hong Png wing

The riverfront extension, also by GreenhilLi, fronts the Singapore River promenade, reorienting the museum towards the waterfront and creating a new and welcoming open doorway to the museum. The key feature here is a grand titanium entrance portal that leads visitors into the expansive daylight-filled space.

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Riverfront Entrance (WIP)

The 26-metre-wide column-free gallery, which is home to the Tang Shipwreck collection, is also flooded with daylight, which filters in through numerous circular skylights.

Asian Civilisation Museum
Tang Shipwreck

As the architects explain, daylight has been carefully manipulated to “delineate and distinguish new from old, facilitate a sympathetic contiguity and create a symbiotic dialogue between the two.”

Through the same skylights, the roof terrace above comes alive a night, illuminated by pools of light from the gallery below.

Asian Civilisation Museum
Riverfront Entrance (WIP)

GreenhilLi
greenhilli.com