Tanjong Pagar Plaza

Text by Kelly Koh

The third podium-tower edifice of our tour, note the subtle similarities and differences between all three mixed-use developments, and their respective ways of integrating their functions with the environment. Its linear courtyard is a distinguishing feature.

Tanjong Pagar Plaza in the late 1970s (Photo credit: Tanjong Pagar: Singapore's cradle of development)

Tanjong Pagar Plaza is a government-built, self-sufficient, high-rise complex, providing inhabitants with a shopping complex and key public amenities including a post office, banks, a kindergarten, market, and hawker centre. Given the multifarious functions the complex had to accomodate, the eventual design was an expansive two-storey plinth, with a combination of slab and point blocks above. It was constructed in two phases, with the five slab blocks preceding the two point blocks and was built over a series of pre-war buildings including a temple.

Tanjong Pagar Plaza with flowers painted on block facades

To provide light, ventilation and way-finding in the immense podium block, internal landscaped courtyards running the entire length of the complex were carved out. These courtyards became the social centre of the estate, giving the concrete development an enduring humane aspect.

Airwells of Tanjong Pagar Plaza

Landscaped courtyards of Tanjong Pagar Plaza

Situated in a historically teeming district, much effort was expended on lending the large complex a suitable scale to the surrounding shophouses. To reduce the impact of the massive development, slab blocks were arranged with alternating orientations atop the podium block, detailed with brick infill to further fragment its imposing scale. From the ground level, the two storey podium block appears level with its shophouse neighbours, mimicking their experiential and functional scale.

The residents of Tanjong Pagar Plaza and their community spaces

Known for their strong sense of togetherness, the residents of Tanjong Pagar Plaza have effected various upgrading and community programs over the years. It is these spirited citizens and other like-minded enthusiasts, who in 2008, acknowledged the value of the complex and lobbied for it to be given conservation status.

The young and old of Tanjong Pagar