Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Explore our city centre... Bras Basah.Bugis district

Right in the heart of our city is the Bras Basah.Bugis district, Singapore's budding Arts, Culture Learning and Entertainment district.

The Bras Basah.Bugis district, alive with creative buzz and youthful energy, is bounded by Rochor Road, Beach Road, Selegie Road and Fort Canning Hill. The area is a treasure trove of cultural and architectural references with it compelling blend of old and new buildings.

While other areas plunge into a quest to modernise, Bras Basah.Bugis retains its hold on its past and reveals in its rich architectural and cultural heritage. The area is home to numerous arts group clustered along Waterloo Street.

Bras Basah. Bugis will reign again as the hub of renowned educational institutions in the city as it did in the past, with new city campuses established in the area.

For easy reference, this trail is grouped into Walking Route, Selegie Road and Niven and Fort Canning.
Take the MRT and alight at Bugis Station. Take the escalator and arrive at Bugis Junction, the starting point of the Walking Route.
Bugis Junction (1) is Singapore' first air-conditioned sky-lit shopping arcade. Flanked by quaint historic shophouses, it is a charming showcase of how the old-world is artfully combined with the new-world.
Cross Victoria Street and head towards Bugis Village (2), a covered street bazaar thronged with stalls offering knick knacks, funky finds, souvenirs and local delicacies. If you're game, try the king of all fruits - the durian. Or drop by some of the stalls selling T-shirts designed by budding young local designers.
Soak in the energy of the street life at Albert Mall (3).
^ The main thoroughfare of the Bugis area is Albert Mall, a magnet for the local community and tourists alike to savour its colourful street life. Watch out for 'ko yo' men selling the miracle cure of medicated oil passed down from their forefathers or ancestors. Take a ride on one of the many colourful trishaws (4) or explore the local 'wet market' (5) at Albert Centre.
Revel in the colours of Waterloo Mall. While your're at this stretch, you can't miss the stalls selling religious icons and lotus flowers. Along Waterloo mall, two temples - the Buddhist Kwan Yin temple (6) and the Hindu Sri Krishnan Temple (7) stand side by side in reverence and peace, the epitome of religious harmony in Singapore. Walk on to the other side of the mall and you see the boundary wall of the Stamford Arts Centre (8), creatively imprinted and students from LaSalle College of the Arts, reflecting the eclectic and unique character of Bras Basah.Bugis...
^ Buddhist Kwan Yin Temple
^ Hindu Sri Krishnan Temple
^ Stamford Arts Centre
^ Bringing Arts to the City. Pop by the campus of the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts [NAFA] (9) - an arts education institution specialising in visual and performing arts and fashion studies.
^ Take in the delightful mural on the boundary wall of Singapore Council of Women's Organisation (10) designed and painted by the NAFA students.
Immerse into the arts along Waterloo Street. Waterloo Street - a stretch dedicated to various arts uses and activities, is a sight to behold, with its array of prewar bungalows and shophouses in different architectural styles. The street is akin to an open-air architectural museum.
^ Step into the delightful Sculpture Square (11) - a comtemporary art exhibition space showcasing art pieces of local and Asian talents. Make a stop at the quaint cafe within the Sculpture Sqaure.
^ Further up along Waterloo Street, put on your dancing shoes at the Dance Ensemble Singapore (12).
^ . . . or learn a brush stroke or two at the Singapore Calligraphy Society (13).
^ Marvel at the colonial grandeur of the Singapore Art Museum. The architectural grandeur of the Singapore Art Museum (14) beckons as you take a left turn along Bras Basah Road. The Singapore Art Museum, one of Singapore's finest example of colonial architecture, once housed the St. Joseph's Institution. Today, the building is home to a permanent collection over 4000 Southeast Asian modern and comtemporary art pieces.
^ Vibrant city campus - Singapore Management University. Across Bras Basah Road is the city campus for the Singapore Management University (15). Together with the art and commercial schools in the area, the campus injects more buzz and youthful energy to Bras Basah.Bugis, reinforcing its character as Singapore Arts, Culture, Learning and Entertainment district.
^ Indulge in al-fresco dining at Chijmes. From the building's architectural splendor to its initmate sunken courtyard within, it is hard to believe that Chijmes (16) was once a school with a chapel. In fact, the name Chijmes is a derivation of Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus - the name of the school. The building, which was built in 1890, was an award winning conservation project. Explore and be delighted by the unique architectural features of the building. Stop by for some refreshments at the delightful courtyard enclosed by restaurants, bars and pubs or browse throught the quaint boutique galleries.
^ Catch a glimpse of the National Library. As you head back towards Bugis MRT station, you'll see Singapore's 16 storey state-of the-art National Library (17). The National Library building also houses the National Arts' Council's Drama Centre.
Selegie & Niven - one of the few remaining hills in the Central Area, Mount Sophia was an important part of the old inner city of Singapore at the turn of the 19th century.

It is one of the earliest middle-class residential districts in Signapore, with a number of grand prominent houses on the hill as early as 1880.

Today, it showcases of a mix of shophouses and terrace houses of varying architectural styles. many historic buildings have stood the test of time and serve to retain the charming character and streetscape of the area.
^ Stroll down Niven Road (1) to view the rows of quaint shophouses and their intricate architectural details.

Enjoy a drink or a snack at Prinsep Place (2) and take in the charming ambience of the conserved shophouses. This area is popular with the students and the nearby working crowd. Some of the restaurants and cafes open late into the night.

^ Check out the gallery at Selegie Arts Centre (3), home to the Photographic Society of Singapore.
^ The LaSalle college of the Arts (4) is one of the new landmarks in the Bras Basah.Bugis area. Situated along Prinsep Street, LaSalle College of the Arts features a series of lofty, sky-lit internal streets which are pedestrian friendly and open up new possibilities such as vibrant street activities.
Fort Canning Hill was previously known as Central Park. This 19-hectare historical hill was the residence of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles established his government house on this hill in 1819. Visitors to Fort Canning Hill will find a number of relics reflecting the past glory of the hill.
In modern Singapore, Fort Canning Hill offers vast tracts of greenery - providing a quiet and peaceful sanctuary in the heart of the bustling city. The cluster of civic and cultural buildings and museums adds to the dignified character of the park. Also to be found lying scattered in the park are many historic relics, markers of Singapore's colonial past.
Fort Canning Centre, the grand and imposing 65-year-old restored military barracks, is now a major cultural venue, and residence of Singapore modern Dance Theatre and Theatrework.
Fort Canning Green, where the gently sloping green serves as a natural stage. Enjoy an outdoor performance in the cool evening breeze or simply get under the sahde of a tree to read a book in the surrounding of a lush green park.
^ Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts (MICA) was erected in 1934. The restored building was the old Hill Street Police Station which, at its time, was the largest government building and was regarded as a modern skyscraper. The ground level of this grand building house several art galleries now.
^ Along Hill Street, admire the quaint, beautifully restored Central Fire Station. The station was built in 1909 and remains the oldest functioning fire station in Singapore today. Drop by the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery in this iconic red and white building to learn about the history of fire fighting in Singapore.
^ Want a taste of Peranakan culture, The Peranakan Museum at Armenian Street is the place to go. Built in 1910, this beautiful museum houses a suite of galleries showcasing Peranakan and Straits Chinese culture, which was an integral part of Singapore's colourful history.
^ A cultural icon of our era, the National Museum of Singapore buzzes with festivals and events all year round, and bringing people closer to our heritage. The Museum retells history in innovative and cutting-edge ways, redefining the conventional museum experience. Relive within this beautiful historical monument, the culture and history of Singapore, and discover our nation's story, right in the heart of our city.

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