Published December 05, 2012

Pearl Bank architect gets top award

By ong chor hao

THE man behind Singapore's first super high-rise condominium and first condo housing estate has been recognised for his contributions to architecture.

Tan Cheng Siong, 75, principal at Archurban Architects Planners, was among four recipients of Designer of the Year for the President's Design Award this year.

The jury for the award hailed Mr Tan, whose career has spanned five decades, as a pioneer who "has made many deep imprints on residential architecture in Singapore". "His unwavering pursuit of architectural excellence makes him a role model for younger generations."

One of Mr Tan's most notable works was the Pearl Bank Apartments in Outram. In 1969, his firm won the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) site tender based on the merit of its design, even though its client had put up the lowest price offer. When it was completed in 1976, the 38-storey Pearl Bank Apartments was the tallest residential building here.

Mr Tan was soon appointed by the Development Bank of Singapore to design the country's first condominium housing estate - Pandan Valley Condominium.

He was also one of the members of the Planning Committee for the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, and has been credited with introducing the condominium concept to the city in the 1990s.

With a raft of projects lined up in China, where most of his work is now, Mr Tan has no intention of slowing down. "Keep busy, that's the way to stay healthy," he said.

Mr Tan, who is regularly engaged to teach at various institutions, sees a bright future for architecture in Singapore. "I'm very optimistic that there are a lot of opportunities for young talents, and there are a lot of young talents also coming up in Singapore," he said.

The other recipients for the Designer of the Year award are Hanson Ho, creative director for design studio H55; Voon Wong, director of VW+BS; and Yang Yeo, chief creative officer of JWT Shanghai.

Also recognised at the President's Design Award ceremony held at the Istana yesterday were nine design projects that took home the Design of the Year awards.

One of them was 19 Sunset Place, designed by ip:li architects, where a concrete shell was built over an existing structure to create new spaces while preserving the original form of the building.

The Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park, designed by Atelier Dreiseitl Asia, was another winner. Features introduced to the park included replacing traditional concrete canals with a natural river and a layout which makes it easy to get close to the water.

Another Design of the Year award recipient was the Wonder Box concept executed by Spacedge Designs. The namesake, which sits in a 1,000-square foot flat in Sengkang, conceals the bomb shelter, air-conditioning ledge, two bathrooms and storage space while housing wardrobes, kitchenware, as well as the television set and audio-visual equipment.

This year's winners were selected from 139 nominations for the two categories. The President's Design Award is organised by the URA and the DesignSingapore Council.