German / French-Singapore Institutes

Text by Eugene Tan

Using an architectural language similar to the neighbouring Jurong Town Hall and Science Centre, these adjacent institutes contributed to the industrialisation of Singapore by providing timely manpower to new and emerging industries.

Front facade of The German-Singapore Institute (Photo credit: Eugene Tan)

In the late 1970s, the rapid development of Singapore’s economy resulted in an extremely tight labour market which necessitated an urgent shift away from labour-intensive industries to technology and knowledge-intensive industries. It was mooted that foreign governments assist technically and financially with the establishment of 'institutes of technology', taking in trainees with 'A' level qualifications and maintaining close ties with technology leaders from industry - serving as a conduit for technology and know-how transfer.

Abandoned canteen of the German / French-Singapore Institutes in 2013

In 1978, a proposal to establish the German-Singapore Institute (GSI) was put forward. This would be EDB's first institute of technology. Commencing operations in February 1982, it began to bridge the demand and supply for skilled manpower, while complementing existing training systems found elsewhere. This was followed by the idea for a French-Singapore Institute (FSI) in 1980. Intended to specialise in the training of technologists in the electro-technical engineering fields, it was modelled after the then École Supérieure d'Ingénieurs en Électronique et Électrotechnique (ESIEE) of Paris. Together with the Japanese-Singapore Institute of Software Technology, these establishments attempted to fill an essential gap in vocational and technical training, providing critical manpower to new and merging industries.

Facade treatment of The German-Singapore Institute reminiscent of Jurong Town Hall and Singapore Science Centre

In 1992, after EDB concluded that these institutes be should be brought in line with Singapore's mainstream education programmes, Cabinet approved their transfer to Nanyang Polytechnic School of Engineering. The two buildings were then adapted for reuse as Informatics Academy’s Jurong Campus from 2005 to 2011, and have remained vacant since.

Site of the new Genting hotel next to the German / French-Singapore Institutes

The French-Singapore Institute driveway

In 2012, tender for a new hotel on part of the GSI site was announced – included in the development is a new road which will necessitate the demolition of the FSI. Plans for the GSI building have not been announced.

The German-Singapore Institute back entrance

The French-Singapore Institute front entrance