The Queen Resumes Her Reign

Historic building gets new lease of life

Issue: Apr 2010

Reinventing itself - once an office building, now a luxury serviced residence that puts a premium on personalised service and individual attention
Reinventing itself - once an office building, now a luxury serviced residence that puts a premium on personalised service and individual attention.

Strategically situated at the crossroads of Singapore’s business and financial district is a building that has witnessed the transformation of the country’s economy through the evolution of the area it keeps watch over – the historic Singapore River and the quays along it, Clifford Pier and Change Alley with its plethora of money-changing booths and shops. In recent years, this building, a regal Art Deco inspired architectural treasure formerly known as the Asia Insurance Building, has itself also been transformed, from being the prime commercial building of its time to an exclusive, elegant 146-unit serviced residence of today known as the Ascott Raffles Place Singapore.

Preserving a Slice of History


The Ascott Raffles Place Singapore before its metamorphosis, affectionately referred to as “the Queen” because it was featured in Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 even though it was only partially finished then
The Ascott Raffles Place Singapore before its metamorphosis, affectionately referred to as “the Queen” because it was featured in Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 even though it was only partially finished then.

The conservation and redevelopment of buildings is one of the most committed acts of caring for the environment. This is because the avoidance of demolition and re-building not only saves resources, but also reduces waste. And the choice of restoring this particular building is an especially meaningful one, given its architectural lineage.

Built in the 1950s, the grand old dame was the first modern high-rise office to be designed and built in Singapore after the ravages of World War II and was symbolic of the economic recovery of the nation and its blossoming position as a financial centre. Its architect and designer was Dr Ng Keng Siang, the first Singaporean to be a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and it was, at that time, the tallest building in Southeast Asia.

Monumental Efforts to Conserve

In 2008, the office tower was lovingly restored and converted into a premier serviced residence for the global traveller. Great care was taken to retain the historical charm of this national heritage building through the preservation of as many original features of the building as possible.

The 15-storey Cutler brass mail chute from the old building kept perfectly intact
The 15-storey Cutler brass mail chute from the old building kept perfectly intact.

Over 300 steel window frames with brass handles were kept intact. 20,000 pieces of the original Travertine marble cladding were hand secured. The Nero Portaro Italian marble five-footway surrounding the perimeter of the building, the Nero Portaro colonnade that graced the building’s grand entrance and the crown at the top of the building which was installed to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 were all given a fresh glossy polish to bring them back to their former splendour.

Even the old lift cores were not tossed out. Instead, they were relocated to a more central area even as more elevators were added to cater to the convenience of the residents. Former stairway rails were stripped and re-used as air-conditioning grates and its heart-shaped retro design adopted as a motif for the building and made into cufflinks and brooches for the staff and guests.

The heart-shaped retro design adopted as a motif, replicated on the air-conditioner grilles and made into cufflinks and brooches for staff and guests
The heart-shaped retro design adopted as a motif, replicated on the air-conditioner grilles and made into cufflinks and brooches for staff and guests.

The world’s first high-rise mail chute, a patented invention designed in the 1880s by James Cutler, an architect and the Mayor of Rochester in New York, which had pride of place in the building now stands by the lift lobby of Ascott Raffles Place Singapore, a tribute to the timeless appeal of the place.

For carefully preserving unique features of a 1950s heritage icon while transforming it into its flagship premier serviced residence, Ascott was conferred the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore’s Architectural Heritage Award in 2009.

Green with Old Charm

Though steeped in old-world charm, the residence is still resplendent with modern, state-of-the-art facilities, many of which are environmentally-friendly.

As the original window glass for the building 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.

The infinity pool that uses an eco-friendly ozone generating system for water treatment
The infinity pool that uses an eco-friendly ozone generating system for water treatment.

With these panels, favourable temperatures are created within the apartments and the need for air-conditioning is minimised.

Other green features at the residence include an eco-friendly ozone generating system used for the filtration of the stylish infinity pool, motion detectors to control the lighting at staircases and water efficient fittings within the spacious apartments.

In recognition of the building's excellent green standards, Ascott Raffles Place Singapore was given the Green Mark Award by Singapore's Building and Construction Authority in 2007.

So, step into the Ascott Raffles Place Singapore today, where the mystique of historical past and the wonders of modern eco technologies have come together to create a perfect sanctuary of personalised hospitality.

Ascott Raffles Place Singapore
No. 2 Finlayson Green
Singapore 049247
For reservations:
Call 1800 272 7272 or
e-mail enquiry.singapore@the-ascott.com

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