Marina Square

Text by Eugene Tan

Upgraded several times over the years, its latest facelift in 2013 will finally see the end of Marina Square's iconic cascading roof garden, a final bastion which recalled the various streams and fountains which ran through John Portman's original design.

Marina Square in the 1980s (Photo credit:

Excerpts from John Portman and Associates : selected and current works, The Images Publishing Group, 2002

Architectural scale model of Marina Square complex

The three convention hotels and large retail mall that compromise Marina Square were designed to stimulate the economic growth of an undeveloped landfill site on Singapore Harbour by creating a people-oriented destination. The owner originally planned a multi-phase development and solicited competitive proposals on how to proceed. The Portman-Tao team took a unique position and proposed the project as an ambitious single-phase development that focused on creating a new, humanly rewarding environment. The resulting Marina Square became the catalyst that spawned extensive commercial development adjoining the site.

Cascading roof garden at Marina Square Singapore

The complexity and massive size of Marina Square was balanced against careful attention to pedestrian scale and a variety of spatial experiences. Singapore’s largest retail mall anchors the complex, drawing local residents to the site and enhancing the amenities of the three hotels.

Marina Square roof garden by John Portman

Each of the hotels is built of concrete, and rises above the retail mall with a distinctively different form. An atrium lobby within each hotel opens to shopping, dining and entertainment in the mall. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities at multiple levels. The mall’s landscaped roof includes tennis courts, swimming pools, and extensive sunscreened gardens that offer shade to hotel guests in the tropical climate. To enrich the experience for shoppers and guests, major works of art are prominently incorporated within the hotels, retail mall and their surrounding plazas and gardens, making Marina Square a gathering place for city residents.

Marina Square and Singapore's Marina Bay in the 1980s