Singaporean studio LOOK Architects has created a landscaped park and promenade overlooking a beach in north-east Singapore, where 400 Chinese civilians were murdered during World War II. Named Punggol Point, the national heritage site has been commemorated with a small park at one end of the three-mile timber pathway, featuring lily ponds, playgrounds and a viewing platform over the beach.
The 4.9 kilometre waterfront promenade at Punggol is part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s plans to continually enhance the quality of our living environment and to strengthen the identity of places. The vision for the Punggol Point was first drawn up in URA’s Parks and Waterbodies and Identity Plans in 2002, for it to be developed into a sea sports and recreational destination, with seaside dining opportunities, to further enhance its rustic coastal charm. This was further expanded to include the 4.9 km promenade that links Punggol Point and Punggol East under URA’s Leisure Plan in 2008.
Punggol Point is identified as one of the coastal areas with rustic charm in the URA’s Parks & Waterbodies and Identity Plans drawn up and exhibited in 2002. The Punggol Promenade serves to open up the coastline for public enjoyment and to establish it as a sea sports and recreational destination for nearby residents and the public.
Punggol Point and its beachfronts are very popular with the locals due to its laidback atmosphere, and as a retreat from the busy heartlands. A 0.6 ha park complete with viewing deck, children’s playground, car park and toilet facilities will be developed to enhance the recreational amenities at the waterfront.
Other parts of the coastline are largely made up of reclaimed land for future development. They are popular fishing venues that have flourished with fauna and flora over the years. Currently, the coastline is interrupted by several drainage outlets with no continuous connectivity for the public to access the waterfront for recreation purposes. The promenade will link up the 4.9km waterfront from Punggol Point to Punggol East, and connect further south with the park connectors along Sungei Serangoon and Sungei Punggol.
A walk on the rustic side:
The 4.9 kilometre promenade will connect the two proposed sports and recreational clusters at both ends at Punggol Point and Punggol East. The design features capitalise on the unique characteristics and natural beauty of the coastline, with three thematic zones as follows:
A. Punggol Point Walk (1.2 km):
- The Punggol Point Walk begins at Punggol Point, where a 0.6 ha park will serve as a gateway to the promenade, featuring lily ponds which will integrate with the promenade as well as an event plaza. The jetty gateway will offer visitors a breathtaking view of the sea and Coney Island from an elevated viewing deck.
B. Nature Walk (2.4 km):
- This stretch will comprise a nature walk meandering through rustic and well-vegetated areas. Visitors can enjoy the flora and fauna of the area, which will also be dotted with fishing points and rest stops.
C. Riverside Walk (1.3 km):
- The Riverside Walk of the promenade, ending at Punggol East, is envisioned to be a lively promenade with lookout points and fitness stations, for a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge.
- Mrs Cheong Koon Hean, URA’s CEO said, ‘The Punggol Promenade will improve the accessibility and open up the waterfront area at Punggol. The promenade, together with all the upcoming leisure options at Punggol Point and Punggol East will liven up the area, bringing even more buzz and recreational options, especially to residents in the North-East.”
- The Punggol promenade will be part of the first ever 150km Round-Island Route that will allow us to walk, cycle, or jog around the entire Singapore. It is also part of the Northeastern Park Connector loop. Together, these will complete the entire waterfront promenade loop around Punggol from Sengkang Park to Punggol Park, providing a continuous walk along the Punggol coastline and creating new recreational opportunities at the waterfront for public enjoyment.
- LOOK Architects, together with a consortium comprising engineers SM1 Consulting Engineers, HY M&E Consultancy Services Pte Ltd and quantity surveyors OTN Building Cost Consultants Pte Ltd, were appointed to design and implement the waterfront promenade and park at a total cost of S$16.7 million. The contractor that clinched the award to build the promenade is Horti-Flora Services Pte Ltd. The promenade is expected to be completed by first quarter of 2011.
- The Punggol Promenade is one of the infrastructure enhancement works undertaken by URA to improve the quality of life for Singaporeans. Some of other such projects include the Southern Ridges and the Changi Coastal Promenade.
Recreation options at Punggol Point and Punggol East:
Punngol Point today is a popular recreation spot for activities like fishing and camping. Families and fishing enthusiasts have already been frequenting the jetty and beach for leisure outings. The Outward Bound School (OBS) camping ground was completed last year. Horse-riding enthusiasts can look forward to a new horse-riding centre, scheduled to be completed in 2010, as well as future waterfront dining opportunities.
At Punggol East, a plant nursery is already operational. Food & beverage outlets and sports and recreational facilities, including multi-purpose courts and an amphitheatre are already under construction. In addition, a community hub is being planned and another site for sports and recreational uses will be made available.
4.9-kilometre long public waterfront promenade serving as a key pedestrian connector for the future Punggol Waterfront Town. Environmental improvement works include an arrival plaza next to the existing beach, a water lily pond park, fishing platforms leaning over the water edge, rest shelters, viewing deck and bridge crossings over canals. Application of sustainable building materials such as GRC simulated timber, laterite and oxidised steel throughout the the promenade makes for an environmentally friendly development.
Punggol Promenade as a waterfront landscape insertion within the surrounding urban setting allows visitors to revel in a poetic interlude intertwining shifting planes of time and space – memories of a bygone era are evoked through embodiment of signifiers and reality melds with processes of re-familiarization to yield new layers of meaning. The experience becomes so immersive and personal that a comforting sense of reconciliation with nature is inspired.
The expansiveness of water and sky seen from Punggol Point beach seems to stretch infinitely, obliterating the nearby towering neighbourhood of public housing, as the linearity of the safety railing sitting on black pigmented concrete plinths coaxes the eyes to be led towards the horizon. The severity of this bold color treatment carries undertones of sobriety in tribute to Punggol Point beach as a World War II memorial site, a sliver of history that is otherwise little known. One may see the viewing deck overlooking Punggol Point beach bearing resemblance to the hull of oil tankers dotting the surrounding waters, but its piercingly sharp silhouette may echo the scathing wounds of war for another.
Composition of materials applied throughout the 4.9km long promenade make up a rich palette recalling the rustic character of old Punggol, a district which used to be populated with rural ‘kampong’ communities keeping farms and plantations. Richly saturated hues of porous pebble, oxidized steel and laterite speak of a genuine, down-to-earth honesty that endears to the uprooted instability of urbanized society, while the weathered texture of simulated GRC (glass fibre reinforced concrete) timber planks instills a continual tactility along the meandering pedestrian path.
Interspersed along the promenade are sculpturally shaped rest shelters offering much welcomed respite from the tropical heat. A steel structure in aluminium cladding, the rest shelter is shaped as a dynamic swirling form that draws inspiration from elements of the coastal context, emulating the rolling sea waves and the corkscrew shell. The external cladding is configured out of a single triangulated module, which through calculated permutation adopts the distinctive geometry. Versatility of this configuration has been demonstrated in the semi-enclosed envelop of the rest shelter, a design consideration safeguarding against anti-social behaviour.
The armor-like envelop would develop a weathered patina over time, the character of which melds with the down-to-earth charm of the promenade. Inner faces of the shelter – interlocking trapezoidal aluminium panels strengthening the envelop – have a soft sheen which captures the ambient mood of surroundings by reflecting the changing hues of light throughout the day. Poetic speculation on man-made artifice and nature is inspired by calculated framing of tenderly stirred by calculated juxtapositions – whether glancing upon a lily pond by the seaside, or hovering close to the water edge on a cantilevered look-out platform – to rouse an invigorated connection to landscape and nature.
Project name: Punggol Promenade
Location: Punggol, Singapore
Coordinates: 1.407889, 103.917777
Type: Riverside, Park
Site Area: 82,331 sqm (4.9km)
Construction cost: $16.7 million
Completion Year: 2012
Client / Owner / Developer: Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore
Landscape Architects: LOOK Architects, 18 Boon Lay Way #09-135, TradeHub 21 Singapore 609966
Principal designer: Look Boon Gee
Design team: Ng Sor Hiang, Anton Siura, Lee Liting, Friska Siswanto
Structural & Civil Engineers: SM1 Consulting Engineers
Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: HY M&E Consultancy Services Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor: OTN Building Cost Consultants Pte Ltd
Contractor / Builder: Horti-Flora Services Pte Ltd
Text Description: © Courtesy of LOOK Architects, Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore
Images: © Frank Pinckers, Anton Siura, Choo Meng Foo, Derek Swalwell, LOOK Architects, Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore