People and Products

Perched on the Padang—a large, open playing field in downtown Singapore best known for hosting National Day parades—the new, 690,000-squarefoot National Gallery Singapore stands as a dignified presence among the neighborhood’s British-colonial-era buildings and the business district’s sparkling modern skyscrapers. Created out of a pair of adjacent buildings—the former City Hall and Supreme Court—the Singapore government funded the $370 million museum complex, which opened in November 2015 as a highlight of the island-nation’s 50th anniversary as an independent republic.

“The guiding principle was to give the impression that the two buildings were largely untouched and returned to the public as they were, even though extensive technical work had been carried out below and above,” says Jean- François Milou, who led the project’s design team. In 2007, his Paris-based practice, studioMilou, won the international competition to design the museum, in partnership with Singapore firm CPG Consultants. After nearly nine years of careful engineering, construction, and preservation, the result is a contemporary museum of intimate galleries connected by vast indoor plazas and sky bridges and set within two lovingly restored buildings.

The museum is intended for art from around Southeast Asia, mid-1800s to the present, and aims to be a state-of-theart showcase. This goal was a difficult one, since the heritage status of the neoclassical City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, completed in 1929 and 1939 respectively, meant that there were many restrictions. “All external facades and entrances had to be preserved. And some of the rooms could not really be touched,” says Sushma Goh, the museum’s director of project and facilities management.

The architects’ solution entailed joining the two buildings with an atrium covered by a stylized canopy made of cut-aluminum panels and glass that suggests the design of palm-leaf thatching common in villages around the region. This new roof assembly, which is supported by tree-like steel columns, stretches across both buildings, letting in daylight while serving as a screen against the harsh tropical sun. The futuristic yet familiar roof is a contemporary gesture that unifies the complex and establishes its new identity.

From the front of the museum, an awning-like section of the roof swoops out to welcomes visitors into the dramatic main lobby. From there, a grand minimalist stone stair leads down to a lower level for ticketing and other visitor services. The most difficult technical challenges in connecting the buildings lay underground. Milou’s plan called for four new below-grade levels for circulation, moving and storing art, and for parking. Inserting the new floors under the existing buildings required extensive computer modeling, geotechnical testing, and a delicate underpinning operation made more complex by the differing heights of the two structures’ existing foundations.

Aboveground, many of the most historically sensitive rooms—like City Hall’s “surrender chamber,” where the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia was officially ended after World War II, and the offices of the Supreme Court’s chief justice, both paneled in teak—had to be kept as they were. But in other rooms, new, non-load-bearing walls project out from the existing walls to accommodate air-conditioning and other systems necessary for an appropriately climate-controlled modern museum.

The galleries for older art and artifacts—which include photographs, maps, prints, and paintings—are located in the suitably dramatic Supreme Court wing, which features rooms with decorative molding and wooden or painted walls. More contemporary works, including video art and installations, are displayed in the white-walled halls of the former City Hall.

The painstaking restoration work was supervised by Goh and her team, including discreet repairs of the historic buildings’ elaborate colonnaded facades, both of which were covered in “Shanghai plaster”—a stucco that simulates stone common in major buildings in Asia during the 1920s and ’30s. However, in other areas, such as the Supreme Court’s old lobby, they opted to not erase evidence of time’s passage. Here a near-obsessive effort was made to maintain the cracks in the terrazzo floor, since the team did not want to overrestore the buildings; the goal was to preserve the feeling of buildings that had been around a long time, even if the institution—and the country itself—is relatively new.

After all the meticulous conservation and the technological derring-do, Singaporeans were not disappointed. In the first two weeks, the museum attracted about 170,000 visitors. People came to see the buildings and view the art—and to eat. In food-obsessed Singapore, the mix and variety of a dozen or so dining outlets, including a formal French restaurant, a casual café, and a rooftop bar offering dramatic views of the city, have helped make the National Gallery a hit. “Food is, absolutely, very important in Singapore,” says the museum’s CEO, Siak Ching Chong, who maintains that the modern museum needs to be a lifestyle destination.

Milou embraces this view of a more relaxed and approachable museum—one that appeals to a wide audience. He likes to refer to the building as “a kind of living room of Singapore, dedicated to the arts.”




studioMilou architecture in collaboration with CPG Consultants Pte Ltd

studioMilou architecture
111 rue Sant Antoine 75004 Paris
Por : (33) 6 42 11 78 68
Tel : (33) 1 42 71 65 32

studioMilou singapore
1 Coleman Street, The Adelphi, #07-09B ,Singapore 179803
+65 65920018 (tel), +65 62380013 (fax)

CPG Consultants Pte Ltd
1 Gateway Drive, Westgate Tower, #25-01, Singapore 608531
+65 63574373 (tel) +65 63574376 (fax)

architecture — Jean-François
Milou, lead architect; Wenmin Ho,
Thomas Rouyrre, architectural
team managers; Charmaine Boh,
Janis Goh, Trung Thanh Nguyen,
Jason Tan, Jiarong Goh, May Leong,
Eudora Tan, architectural designers

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

studioMilou architecture
Jean-François Milou, Lead Architect & Lead Designer
Wenmin Ho, Architectural Team Manager, Designer
Thomas Rouyrre, Architectural Team Manager, Designer
Charmaine Boh, Architectural Designer
Janis Goh, Architectural Designer
Trung Thanh Nguyen, Architectural Designer
Jason Tan, Architectural Designer
Jiarong Goh, Architectural Designer
May Leong, Architectural Designer
Eudora Tan, Architectural Designer

CPG Consultants Pte Ltd
Lee Soo Khoong, Project Director, Qualified Person (Design)
Tan Hooi Ong, Team Leader, Qualified Person (Construction)
Sandy Liew, Architect
Linda Pang Mui Choo, Architect
Hassana Abdullah Hameed, Architect Assistant
Lim Jiahui, Architect
Shaji Eapen Mammen, Architect Assistant
Lee Teng Kwee, Architect
Tan Shin Wei, Architect
Jane Kung Mun Yee, Architect 


Structural Engineer:
CPG Consultants Pte Ltd (
Batiserf Ingénierie (

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer:
CPG Consultants Pte Ltd (

Quantity Surveyors:
CPG Consultants Pte Ltd (

Conservation Consultant:
Architectural Restoration Consultants Pte. Ltd.

Société Européenne de Mécanique (

Lighting Consultant:
Lighting Planners Associates (S) Pte. Ltd. (

Landscape Consultant:
ICN Design International Pte. Ltd (

Acoustics & AVIT Consultant:
Shen Milsom & Wilke (

Signage Consultant:
The Press Room (

General Contractor:

Takenaka – Singapore Piling Joint Venture (TCSP JV)
167 Jalan Bukit Merah, #16-10 Tower 5, Singapore 150167
+65 68998989 (tel) +65 63377761 (fax)

Hideki Izumi (
Tamotsu Takao (


Facade/ Roof Contractor
Jangho Group Co. Ltd. Singapore Branch
(Tel: +65 6846 5880 / web:

Interior Design Contractor
Sunray Woodcraft & Construction Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 6566 2311 / web:

Landscape Contractor
Flora Landscape Pte. Ltd
(Tel: +65 62990706)

Lift/ Escalator Contractor
KONE Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 64246246 /

Mechanical (ACMV) Contractor
Kurihara Kogyo Co. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 62719863 /

Fire Protection Contractor
Deluge Fire Protection (S.E.A) Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: 6862 3688 /

Electrical Contractor
Ngee Cheng Electric Co. Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 64599996 /

Special lighting Contractor
Krislite Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 6543 8000 /

AV equipment Contractor
NCS CE Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: 65. 6556 8000 /

Office Furniture Contractor
Innoplan Technology Pte. Ltd.

Signage Contractor
Crimsign Graphics Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 6745 5012 /

IT Network/ Telephony Contractor
Stone Forest IT Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 6533 7600 /

Security Contractor
Singapore Technologies Electronics Ltd

Photographer: Fernando Javier Urquijo,

Client: Ministry of Communications and Information

Owner:National Gallery Singapore

Capital partnership

Size:690,000 square feet

Cost:$370 million

Completion date:November 2015




Roof and Tree Structure, Aluminum Sunscreens, Glass Skylight

Jangho Group Co. Ltd. Singapore Branch
(Tel: +65 6846 5880 / web:


Architectural Interior Fit-out, including timber acoustic panels
Sunray Woodcraft & Construction Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 6566 2311 / web: 

Structural System

Steel structure :
Yongnam Engineering & Construction (PTE) Ltd
(Tel: +65 6758 1511 / web:

Bore pliling :
Singapore Piling & Civil Engineering Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6235 5088 / web:

Diaphragm Wall :
Bachy Solentanche Singapore Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6538 1715) 

Flooring Systems

Timber Flooring : Wood&Wood Singapore
(Tel: +65 6221 1854 / web:

Stone Flooring : Tan Chiang
(Tel: +65 6368 9933 / web:

Floor coating : Armourflex Coatings Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6272 0922)

Raised floor systems : Getz Bros. & Co. (Singapore), Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 6360 6848 / web:

Windows, Doors, Glazing systems

Blast Mitigation Windows and Doors : AJA Enterprises Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6273 2322 / web:

Glass Doors and Windows : YJ International
(Tel: +65 6353 6433 / web:

Metal Doors : Positive Engineering Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6861 3303 / web:

Acoustic Doors : SIAC Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6262 2977 / web:

Fire rated Curtains : K.A. Fabric Shutters Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6747 1747 / web:

Ironmongeries : Tiki International Enterprises Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6238 1178)

Auto door system : Dorma Far East Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6268 7633 / web:

Fire rated glass : Fireland Engineering Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6745 7648 / web:

External Works

External works : Sing Heng Hoe Construction (1988) Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6565 3606)

Restoration Works

Restoration of Shanghai Plaster : LWC Alliance Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6261 5522 / web:

Restoration of Facade : Bautec Pacific Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6741 0277 / web:

Restoration of Terrazzo : Asia Mortar Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6269 5575 / web:

Restoration of Timber panel : Foo Woodmaking Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6366 1493)

Restoration of Timber panel (Stain & Varnish) : Acolite Construction (S) Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6747 2322)

Restoration of Metal elements : Global Builders Supplies Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6299 2013 / web:

Restoration of Metal elements : Monju Partners Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 8498 5053 / web:

Restoration of Clay roof tiles : Struts Building Technology Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6742 9909 / web:

Restore of light fittings : Shieldinton Industries Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6747 5219 / web:

Restoration of Conserved Furniture : Cheng Carpenters & Design Pte Ltd (


Supplier and Installer: Krislite Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 6543 8000 /

Downlights: Modulex UshioSpax

Façade lightings: Tokistar Lighting (, iGuzzini

Gallery lighting: Eutrac (Lighting Track), ERCO lighting (Spotlight, Wall washer…)

Dimming System or other lighting controls: Lutron DALI dimming system

Elevators and Lifts

Elevators/Escalators: KONE Pte. Ltd.
(Tel: +65 64246246 / web:

Vertical Truck lift : Siong Ann Engineering Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6868 1828)


Plumbing & Sanitary : APP Engineering Pte Ltd


Glass handrails : Wan Sern Metal Industries Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6863 6336 / web: www

Painting : Industrial Contracts Marketing (2001) Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6741 7776 / web:

Sanitary fittings : Rigel Technology (S) Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6844 0660 / web:

Toilet cubicles : Resco Surfaces Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6100 7003)

Security Bollards : Gunnebo Singapore Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6327 9119 / web:

Siphonic systems (RWDP) : Fast Flow Singapore Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6500 4650 / web:

Waterproofing : Chin Leong Construction Systems Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6265 2788 / web:

Sealant system : GSK Associate Builders Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6844 6882 / web:

Wall / Floor Tile : Kings Resources Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6280 9263 / web: http//

Metal works : Heap Heng Metal Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6749 8880)

Stainless Steel : Deshin Engineering & Construction Pte Ltd
(Tel: +65 6787 2787 / web: