Peninsula Plaza

Text by Eugene Tan

Known widely as the ‘Little Burma’ of Singapore, Peninsula Plaza stands out with its distinctive arched façade. A privately commissioned reinterpretation of the podium and tower typology, it has since been appropriated by the local migrant Burmese population, filled with shops and services akin to that of their homeland.

Peninsula Plaza's distinctive facade treatment (Photo credit: Eugene Tan)

The distinctive image of Peninsula Plaza is engendered by the synergy of form and function. The 32 storey office block was designed with a system of perimeter columns, which, together with a framed internal structure, creates an interior that is almost column free for ease of internal reconfiguration. This tower sits atop a 6 storey podium block, with a delicately articulated façade of interconnected arches, interacting visually with the coconut trees lining its promenade.

Muscular facade treatment from Gothic architecture's influence at Peninsula Plaza Singapore

Migrant workers around the covered walkways of Peninsula Plaza

The expression of column arches and three-dimensional motifs forms a dialogue with the St Andrew’s Cathedral opposite. The Gothic forms, borrowed and re-interpreted, perpetuate the historicity of its milieu. The division of the overall mass into three separate volumes also demonstrates a keen sensitivity to neighbouring buildings. Facing the street, the height of the 6 storey podium block abides the scale of street set up by City Hall and the old Supreme Court. From levels 6 to 9, the intermediate volume not only mitigates the severe height difference between podium and tower block, but aligns itself elegantly to the tower at St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Elevation along St Andrew's Road showing the Supreme Court, City Hall, St Andrew's Cathedral and Peninsula Plaza

St Andrew's Cathedral's Gothic architecture juxtaposed with Peninsula Plaza's Gothic influence

While several shops are popular with local photography enthusiasts, Peninsula Plaza has come to be known by some as ‘Little Burma’, having been appropriated by the migrant Burmese population as their gathering space. Composed of small, mostly family-owned businesses, one can find traditional clothing, Myanmar Lager, and even a Burmese-language library in the area, fast becoming the go-to place for authentic Burmese food.