Sunday, 3 May 2015

Sneak Peek: Naked Museum@National Gallery S'pore


It has been more than 33 years since I stepped into old City Hall building for my old friend's wedding photo-shot in 1982 and in 1990s it was my wedding photo-shot, where most newly weds would love to have in their wedding once in a lifetime. 
I have walked pass by sometimes over the years, look at the grand old dome and the building façade that still intact. I was glad that it is preserved and its original flooring as well.
My hubby and I was invited for a sneak peak at Naked Museum@National Gallery Spore on 02 May 2015 organised by NGS on special invitation only and I was thrilled. Two of my friends (Hercules and Juria) were also invited too.
The building history tour on a sneak peek, brings the 'invited' visitors through the historic buildings of the former Supreme Court and the City Hall and offers a glimpse of the architecture and stories of the buildings before its transformation into Art Gallery.
Former Supreme Court Building
The two historical buildings (Former Supreme Court and City Hall) will turn into a spectacular architectural ensemble. A majestic glass and steel structure, supported by posts into a tree, will be placed above the buildings of the Supreme Court and City Hall, binders well together. This light and airy roof structure will function as the public signal of the new National Gallery Singapore.The total cost for the project making is estimated to be around $530 million. Thus National Gallery Singapore will soon house the largest collection of Art Gallery - Naked Museum in Oct 2015.
Former City Hall Building
Restoring the old building's external façade - former Supreme Court and City Hall is like a twin that linked together along the platform via linked bridges and it is 4-storey high building. In early years, the former Supreme Court stood itself next to the former City Hall building as there was no linked bridge at that time as I could remember. The two buildings were separated at one side. Old City Hall building was formerly as the Municipal Building, was designed by F D Meadows which completed in 1929.
Tree-like Steel Poles
To support the roof and veil, designed five tree-like steel structures - ranging from 12m to 30m tall - which are anchored around the Supreme Court's smaller dome and the gallery's central atrium. The tree-like poles is positioned in the spaces between the buildings, connecting the former Supreme Court and City hall.Old Supreme Court and City Hall gazetted as national monuments since 1992, these 2 buildings are subject to preservation guidelines under the authority of the Preservation of Monuments Board.
Singapore Courtyard
Singapore Courtyard is at 2nd level that links to City Hall Chamber and City Hall Rooftop. A courtyard in the former City Hall building will also be named the UOB City Hall Courtyard as reported in newspaper. The Courtyard was used to be carpark of the building and was carved out to be a programme space.
City Hall Chamber with marble columns
City Hall Chamber formerly known as CIty Hall 'Surrender' chamber, was originally built in 1929 as the grandest room in the Municipal Building in Singapore, where the Swearing-in of Yusof Ishak as the our 1st President at the Installation Ceremony in 1959 took place, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew in June 1959. On 12 September 1945, in a historic event, the Japanese surrendered to the British in these Chambers too.
The 'tall' marble-clad columns with bronze and bases, timber wall finishes, light fittings, brass railings, cornices and decorative ceiling are being restored and repaired along with the timber furnitures. Some of the architectural features of Chamber have been restored, such as its brass capital and marble columns.
Swearing at the Chamber in 1959
During the Japanese Occupation in 1942, the Supreme Court was also used as a storage area for rice. The former Supreme Court and City Hall were used as bomb shelters by the British.Newspaper has reported in the notice that citizens were allowed to take refuge in these two buildings.
Linked Bridge
The first Link Bridge connects between the former Supreme Court and the old City Hall building. At first, there was no linked bridge at that time when I passed by in early 1980s as there are two separate buildings. I presume that UOB Southeast Asia Gallery will occupy three levels of the former Supreme Court building, taking up over 2,000 sq m of space.
Timber Ceiling
The ceiling of each courtroom is composed of about 120 intricate octagonal and square ceiling panels, each made up of several timber elements joined by complex wooden connections.
High Courtroom
The front High Courtroom where our Former Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court precedes over court proceedings. The furniture in Court Room will be conserved and retained as testimony to the functions of the building. It will be used to house the South-east Asia collection. The arched windows, neo-classical columns and even wooden plaques bearing the name of past Chief Justices have been retained and restored to its old glory, with new touches such as shiny new marble and granite floorings.Visitors will be able to have a view of the Court Room on special invitation tour.
City Hall Rooftop Garden 
The ponds in the rooftop gardens serve double duty as skylights. Made of steel frames and laminated glass, they allow natural light to flow into the courtyards below. Thus the rooftop garden was created to provide visitors with a verdant outdoor gallery space where they can relax.
Rooftop Garden 
The fifth storey of the former City Hall is being transformed into a rooftop garden. There will be rest areas, F&B outlets, an artists-in-residence area, spaces for art installations, performances, exhibitions and others.
Rotunda Library
The Rotunda Library will be part of the Southeast Asian gallery space and the proposals are for this space to be a resource area where the visitors can browse through archives materials or have access an interactive terminal to peruse more information about the exhibition.
Rattan bench
Rattan benches and jade-coloured glass panels will lend every visitor's feel sense of belonging in Singapore when it will open its doors.
'Y'-shaped staircase
I recall the 'Y'-shaped staircase which is the same as Istana Woodneuk mansion but the interior flooring are different. Whereas their 'Black and White' square-shaped tiles are like checkerboard games.
Wooden Plaque of past Chief Justices' name
The arched windows, neo-classical columns and even wooden plaques bearing the name of past Chief Justices have been retained and restored to its old glory, with new touches such as shiny new marble and granite floorings
Supreme Court Foyer
The flooring of the Supreme Court foyer has been restored with the original eight-sided foundation stone intact.
The Eight-sided Foundation Stone
This 8-sided foundation stone was laid by Sir Shenton Thomas on 1 April 1937. The stone measures seven feet across and weighs two tons, is the biggest foundation stone in Malaya at that time. It lays exactly underneath the centre of the dome which is about 195 feet above. A time capsule in the form of a cylindrical brass casket was buried beneath the foundation stone. It contained 6 Singapore newspapers clippings and a handful of Straits Settlement coins. The “time capsule” is to be retrieved, with the smashing of the foundation stone slated in the year 3000. Readers will read about the rearmament race Europe, industrial strife on rubber estates and the uncertain outlook for rubber and tin. By the time, we will no longer around to see in year 3000!
Civic Area above roof and veil
Civic area (Supreme Court Terrace) will soon be open to the public, on the far right, above the rotunda library will be a newly created floor space and will have seating areas for members of the public. The overall of the roof is that of a shimmering sunscreen which will soften Singapore's strong sunlight as it filters into the gallery spaces below.
More than 15,000 perforated aluminium panels will be used to construct the roof and veil, a sloping extension of the roof which runs down the museum's main entrance between the two buildings. The veil and roof will be composed of six types of panels in three shades of gold and varying patterns and perforations to allow the sun to shine through them at different angles throughout the day.
Rotunda Library Dome
Rotunda library is encased by a small dome covering a triple volume space. This is the smaller dome which is rarely seen on street level.
Main Dome@Former Supreme Court
The main dome (above photo) is covered with copper sheeting attached by copper nails to a timber base, which is in turn bolted to a concrete shell supported by a structure of steel trusses.
Sculptures@Supreme Court Balcony
When you are at former Supreme Court balcony or outside the entrance, you look up above and you could catch a glimpse of the tympanum. A tympanum is the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance of the building. The tympanum in the former Supreme Court contains the allegory of Justice. The sculptures of the former Supreme Court balcony were carved by Italian Cavalieri Rudolfo Nolli, who was part of a party of Italian artists, painters and sculptors engaged by the King Chulalongkorn of Siam to decorate his new throne building in 1913.
Prisoner's Cell Viewing Gallery
Lastly, we walked down from the top level staircase all the way to the ground floor to where the prisoner's cell is located at the corner end as it looks creepy along the corridor. The tour ended at the Prisoner's Cell Viewing Gallery is a place where an accused person is held while waiting for his/her case to be heard in the courtroom. The latrines were located inside while the cistern were located outside to prevent prisoners from hanging themselves.
Prisoner's cell holding area
This cell was used to hold the convicts before their hearings in the courtroom.
Prisoner's cell toilet
Each cell had a toilet (hole in the ground) inside with pipe hole drilled outside, but the most interesting fact was that the prison warden was the only ones who could flush the toilets. Do you know why..take a look above the photo (Prisoner's Cell Viewing Gallery) of the two cells in between where the two cisterns are located. This is to prevent prisoners from hanging themselves.
Furthermore, additional to the 64,000 sq m institution include three new basement levels that will house galleries, an auditorium and carparks, as well as a metal and glass-canopy rooftop linking the two buildings that are still on going.
Mystery Back Door
Well, last but not least, this 'mystery' back door is what I believe the accused/prisoner would leave through this back door. Seems disgusted of this 'ill-fated' door that leading to the staircase to where the courtroom is. Maybe they would do something about this door as it is very old door as long as I could remember seeing people walked out through this door decades ago.
The architecture and design of the Gallery are impressive and I can't wait to see the overall permanent 'Art' collections when it opens in Oct 2015.

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