Singapore’s economy thrived during the 19th century as it became a primary South East Asian trade port, and the piers of Marina Bay performed as a locus for commerce, a site for the arrival and embarkation of goods, and, correspondingly, as an intersection point for culture. Pier operations ceased with the construction of the Marina Barrage that converted the bay into a reservoir beginning 2006, necessitating new programming strategies for the site’s historic buildings.
The Fullerton Bay Hotel is jointly a conservation and new construction effort to redevelop a segment of the historic Marina Bay waterfront, a project consisting of the revitalization of the Clifford Pier and Customs House buildings as well as the design of an additional six-storey hotel block. The architects have choreographed these elements to celebrate the transition from past to present: one experiences the hotel by first entering a lobby within the historic Clifford Pier, proceeding through a contemporary linkway with views to the bay, and concluding within a voluminous reception atrium in the new guestroom structure.
The project has focused on the intersections between new and old, preserving existing structures in a manner respectful of the site’s original architectural elements, and detailing connections to unify the Customs House, Clifford Pier, and contemporary hotel block as a legible and functional whole. These relationships are visual, experiential and mechanical: the design of glass fins to support large glazing spans in the arched bays of the Clifford Pier are transparent to retain the architectural rhythm of the original 1933 Art-Deco facade; the accommodation of electrical and mechanical systems into the existing structures introduces air conditioning to bind the internal environments of the complex; and the solar panels inserted on the roof of the Customs House heat water used in the new hotel block, for instance.
The form of the additional six-storey guestroom structure is shaped in response to the flanking Clifford Pier and Customs House buildings. Firstly, its height establishes compositional hierarchies: being double the height of its historic neighbours, it draws attention to the accommodation spaces as a method of highlighting the hotel’s primary function; it also performs as a proportional balancing agent among the historic low-rise buildings and the high-rise towers of the city beyond. Secondly, the height of its internal atrium matches the historic rooflines as a connective visual datum among the project’s parts. Additionally, its glass façade tapers outward to capture the reflection of the adjacent historic structures and surrounding bay waters, framing its counterparts as views from the guestrooms within.