A Colourful History

In land-scarce Singapore, it can be hard to strike a balance between heritage preservation and necessary urban development. But this garden city has managed several success stories in its sustainable urban development efforts, which have required strategic long-term planning to optimise resources like land, manpower, and energy. One of these is the Old Hill Street Police Station (OHSPS).

With its 927 windows painted in rainbow shades, accentuating its cantilevered balconies, the OHSPS is one of Singapore’s most vibrant and recognisable architectural icons. Erected in 1934 to house the Hill Street Police Station and Barracks, gazetted as a national monument

in 1998 by the Preservation of Monuments Board (now known as Preservation of Sites and Monuments), renamed as the MICA (Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts) Building in 2000, and renamed again as the OHSPS in 2012, it’s certainly a storied edifice.

Its architect, Frank Dorrington Ward, gave the OHSPS a compact yet airy design that used natural light and wind to great advantage for energy efficiency. During its two-year restoration, careful modifications were made in order to retain this aspect of its structure. Its open spaces are also being given more use – its open atrium is a site for art exhibitions and performing arts events, for example.




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