Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Marina Bay Sands

On our recent holiday we had a stop-over-day in Singapore and in the heat and being super tired we decided on a single site to explore and that was the newly opened Marina Bay Sands.

Singapore is a place knee-deep in construction, particularly around the waters edge where land reclamation has created whole new areas for construction sites to sprout up. The grand Marina Bay Sands development covers quite a large area, but the stand-out feature are the main three towers joined at the top by the soaring ship-like skypark.

The whole giant casino, hotel, exhibition complex, shopping area and more is designed by Moshe Safdie Architects for Las Vegas Sands and makes a big statement on Singapore's Marina Bay. Things are still under construction for several of the key areas which dampens the grandeur for the moment, but the completed areas are coming to life. While the design may use its vast extravagance as an initial lure, there is some lovely design refinement from both the large and smaller scales.

We approached the site from the Singapore Flyer (their take on the London Eye), which given the oppressive heat and humidity was a trying experience. The torture was alleviated to a fair degree by the journey through the double helix bridge which leads upto the complex. This makes the journey quite dramatic for those coming by foot and are braving the elements.

With the main entry to the hotel at the far end, we get to walk along the outside of the three towers, keeping to the shade where we could. Exterior dynamic elements catch the wind sending ripples along structure as we approach. The entry area sets the scale up again, making a grand gesture to have us enter. This was spoilt somewhat by the entry approach catering to taxis and cars rather than us pedestrians, but perhaps we are the exception.

The outside may be extravagant, but inside is a real treat, while the scale stays vast we can engage with that extravagance, moving upto and through it. The designers have managed to use the various floors of the towers and the negative space between them to create a sculpture of light that consumes the senses. Whole restaurants (each with their own smaller-scale design care) are just minor elements placed within the spaces. Whole trees feel much like pot-plants against the size of the internal mall that runs the length of the hotel. While it may be stifling hot outside, in here it is beautiful and allows us the time to enjoy the architectural qualities presented.

We do take the trip up to the Skypark, which is a slightly disappointing interior lift, but once there we are treated to vistas of Singapore in all directions. Impressive as it is to be on a vast cantilever 200m above the ground, we are quickly drawn to the shade of the trees up there. This is no loss though, we can still see the swarms of shipping vessels camped out waiting to make use of the Singapore ports and views around the city. The edgeless swimming pool makes the experience all the more spectacular and if staying here I would love to try it out (even if you end up on display).

All up the architecture is vast and dramatic while drawing us in to a range of carefully created smaller details. All the images here are from our visit, though more imagery and info can be found via: Wikipedia, Arch Daily, abduzeedo, the official site and more.

IMAGES : All taken on 15 July 2010 - not uploaded to anything yet (stay tuned for that) - these are all compressed 1200x900 versions selected without the family members prominently in-shot.

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