The Ascott Group has been conferred the
Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Architectural
Heritage Award for carefully preserving unique features of a 1950s
heritage icon while transforming it into its flagship premier
serviced residence, Ascott Singapore Raffles Place.
Formerly known as Asia Insurance Building, it used to be the
tallest building in Southeast Asia in the 1950s, a symbol of
Singapore’s aspiration to be a key financial and commercial hub.
After acquiring Asia Insurance Building in 2006, Ascott decided to
preserve the building's heritage and charm while creating a
serviced residence with modern comforts. Ascott undertook
intensive planning and a Sin$60 million restoration effort to
preserve the office tower which was gazetted by the URA in April
2007 as a conservation building.
Mr Wong Hooe Wai, Ascott’s
Chief Development Officer shared how the architectural gem has
been preserved, “We worked closely with the URA to earmark several
key aspects of the building for conservation. A lot of care was
taken to preserve the historic fabric of the building. The
original Art Deco architecture and distinctive interior features
are retained to recapture the former glory of the building. All
modern additions pay close attention to the complementary nature
of the materials used and the quality of detailing to ensure an
artful blend of heritage with modernity. Ascott Raffles Place is
today a mark of prestige and class, a distinctive serviced
residence that offers travellers a unique experience in a heritage
As the original window glass was thin and
provided little thermal and sound insulation, Ascott brought in
acoustic consultants and window specialists to replace the
existing over 1,000 glass panes with laminated glass to sound
proof the apartments from the bustling street and insulate against
the sun. More than 300 steel window frames with brass handles have
been retained to maintain the exterior integrity of the building.
With the original Travertine marble
loosening from the building and losing its shine over
the years, Ascott hand
secured every 20,000 piece of the original premium Travertine
marble cladding and polished them to restore their luminosity.
An original James Cutler designed brass mail chute has been
conserved and is now a unique feature located at the lift lobby of
Ascott Singapore Raffles Place. James Cutler was an American
designer and architect who invented the mail chute in the 1880s
where mail could be dropped from a high point and collected at a
Ascott has also conserved the
five-footway, made of Nero Portaro Italian marble, around the
perimeter of the building, and two Nero Portaro pillars at the
front of the property, where two inlaid plaques were set in 1953
to commemorate the coronation of HRH the Queen of England and in 1955
for the official opening of Asia Insurance Building. The Nero Portaro marble panels have been polished to bring back their
former richness and gloss.
The stainless steel crown on top
of the building has also been retained. The Asia Insurance
Building was decked out with a crown to commemorate the coronation
of HRH the Queen of England in 1953. Today, the crown has been
polished and it still stands on the roof top of the property.
The intricate retro motif design on the stair railings from
before has been adapted and replicated. The motif now features as
a decorative air-conditioner grille in every apartment,
encapsulating the inherent spirit of the original building and
acts as a subtle reminder to guests of its history.
preserving the building's heritage features, Ascott also took
effort to ensure that Ascott Singapore Raffles Place is
environmentally friendly. The serviced residence has been awarded
the Green Mark Award by Singapore's Building and Construction
Authority in 2007, highlighting the building's excellent green
standards and Ascott's dedication towards environmental awareness
and long-term sustainability.
Ascott Singapore Raffles Place offers 146 apartment
units with an impressive range of facilities including meeting
rooms, WiFi connectivity, an infinity pool, jacuzzis, a fully
equipped gymnasium, a residents’ lounge, a lounge bar and a fine
dining restaurant by award-winning chef, Julien Bompard.
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