Electrifying ION Opens
Singapore's most iconic retail landmark opens in July, promising to be D-destination for both tourists and locals.
Issue: Jul 2009
The ION Orchard's glass skin twists dramatically to form a large canopy, spreading across ION2
Day or night, ION Orchard's mega media facade beckons shoppers with its mesmerising display of motion graphics, live telecasts, and mall ads.
You can't miss it. The shimmering skin of ION Orchard makes a big statement when it catches the sunlight. By nightfall, the mall's allure heightens as its undulating glass facade transforms into a living canvas. Lit up by thousands of LEDs, the skin is ION Orchard's larger-than-life digital billboard. It has a high-definition screen that projects 'live' events and advertisements, and also a media wall that is almost 100 metres long.
"Right from its conception, ION Orchard intends to be the new icon for Orchard Road, offering a unique, multi-sensory integrated mall experience that will bring fashion, art, cuisine and lifestyle to its visitors," said Soon Su Lin, Chief Executive Officer for Orchard Turn Developments Pte Ltd. Orchard Turn develops and manages ION Orchard, and The Orchard Residences, a 56-storey residential tower that rises above the mall.
An Unforgettable Hello
"Historically, buildings used billboards and very crude static graphics to display advertising and so forth. Today, we think media architecture is the future," said architect David Buffonge, of British firm Benoy that had designed the nine-storey mall.
Buffonge added: "Arrival is very important to retail. What brings you here, makes it memorable… and what you see when you leave is very important. That's what makes you come back."
ION Orchard's consultant and artistic director for new media, Tan Cher Suen, plans to give shoppers that unforgettable welcome. "When people drive [or walk] past, we want them to intuitively look at the building," said Tan.
Tan intends to make the media wall an interactive façade, a digital playground. "At night when families visit, we will have a kiosk with games that appear on the façade. One is called LightDraw, where you use light to write words and drawings that will appear on the media screen for 10 seconds," Tan elaborated.
Above the mall entrance, the glass skin twists dramatically to form a large canopy: it spreads over what is now the biggest sheltered public space on Orchard Road. Called the ION2
, this huge swathe of prime land was set aside by its developers to make ION Orchard a "world class lifestyle destination that extends beyond retail."
"It was designed to be a new meeting point that people will instinctively gravitate towards, creating a natural focus for national events and celebrations," said Soon.
From Left to Right:
 Inspired by Orchard Road's past, the architects based the development on the theme of nature. The mall podium is the 'seed' while The Orchard Residences rises above like an elegant stem. (Artist impression)
: The biggest sheltered public space on Orchard Road. (Artist impression)
When the architects from Benoy first got their brief, they were told to "think big." The mixed-use development by Singapore's CapitaLand and Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai Properties was to become a destination landmark.
The team's design which crafted the retail podium as an urban seed and the residential tower as an elegant stem, swept away the competition. The futuristic design won two prestigious international awards, at MAPIC 2006. These were for 'Best Retail Development over 20,000m²' and the 'Best Architectural Entry' at British real estate periodical Estates Gazette's EG Retail & Future Project Awards.
"It's very important for us that we build architecture with meaning. All our projects have strong stories behind them," said Buffonge. "We were very inspired by Orchard Road - that it used to be an orchard. So that was our starting point: the organic nature, the seed and the skin."
For two years, the words "seed, skin, stem, foliage, canopy, leaf" rolled off the tongues of designers and contractors when they discussed the development.
The strong link to nature went beyond the superficial. ION Orchard and The Orchard Residences have won environmental awards from Singapore's Building Construction Authority. Double-glazed glass reduces the greenhouse effect; an elaborately landscaped roof deck absorbs heat; and photo sensors tweak lighting levels in response to available daylight.
A Luxe Experience
Louis Vuitton is launching its biggest boutique in the region at ION Orchard. The duplex store showcases the luxury brand's first curved glass facade, inspired by the "folds of a scarf". (Artist impression)
The mall plays host to giants of the fashion world. Cartier, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Prada have set up duplex flagship stores to lure the well-heeled.
"Today we need more display space...as well as more room for our clients to relax during their boutique visits," Cartier's managing director Christopher Kilianotis told the Business Times in May 2009.
To provide personalised attention to shoppers, ION Orchard will have concierge desks on four levels of the mall, and restroom attendants in its restrooms. Very Important Shoppers of the luxury brands have exclusive use of elegant washrooms, including some with chandeliers dangling from the ceilings.
Despite the current economic doldrums, Orchard Turn is confident that ION Orchard's unique positioning and offerings coupled with a robust marketing, events and promotions calendar will draw the crowds.
The optimism is well-founded: the mall sits above one of the busiest Mass Rapid Transit stations in Singapore. Each day thousands throng the Orchard station, heading for the country's most famous shopping strip. ION Orchard has shops four levels deep to capture this fast-moving human traffic - offering anything from fashionable threads to quick bites.
Going beyond retail, the mall also has a structured art programme ION Art, and an exhibition gallery on the fourth level. And when The Orchard Residences is completed in 2010, the observation deck ION Sky on levels 55 and 56 will deliver an uninterrupted view of the island state.
When the mall podium opens in July 2009, its magnetic allure will be proof that it's not called ION Orchard for nothing.
Living in Electric Dreams
Bringing art to the masses on a massive digital canvas at ION Orchard.
If you happened to be in Singapore over the last few weeks and used the ION Orchard MRT exit you may have noticed a set of colourful blocks combining to form various creations in lights and wondered what these playful and luminous images were all about.
Art Goes Underground
A 90-metre passage way, leading to Singapore's iconic retail mall ION Orchard, is a digital art canvas that aims to make a routine subway ride less ordinary.
The soft silhouette of a Great White lurks in the hazy blue waters, on the lookout for its prey. Seaweeds dance lazily, as fishes hurry by. A giant sea turtle peeks out from the seabed.
Way of Watami
It has a mission to collect the most number of "arigatos" in the world.
Japanese cuisine has seen itself through a long and colourful past, to emerge as an immensely popular and unique modern-day choice
It's About Time
For those who appreciate the art of precision watchmaking, July will be the opening of Swiss brand IWC Schaffhausen's flagship boutique at Singapore's iconic ION Orchard mall.
It is said that Time is a dressmaker specialising in alteration. And it is certainly time for a change in the Asian experience of acquiring luxury timepieces.