Modernist Singapore Architecture: Shaw Tower

Modernist Singapore Architecture: Shaw Tower

Shaw Tower is a 35 storey office and commercial development located on Beach Road, Singapore and was completed in 1975. Its striking brutalist grid like facade, consisting of unpainted pre-cast concrete marks it out, surrounded by modern towers of steel & glass such as South Beach and Duo.

Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography

The site of the tower was developed during a government land sales programme in 1970, replacing the former Alhambra and Marlboro theatres, and the Satay Club at Hoi How Road. This was a part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s wider plan to create a “golden mile” of developments that combine work and play along Beach Road, including other developments such as Golden Mile Tower, and Golden Mile Complex [2]

Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography

The tower was designed by Charles Ho of Iversen Van Sitteren & Partners, a company founded by Berthel Michael Iversen, a Danish architect who had a successful career working across the region and a close favorite of the Shaw brothers. Characterized by their modern aesthetics, their works were symbols for the newly developed countries of Malaysia and Singapore.

Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography

As the name suggests, the site was developed by the Shaw Organization – a family company which pioneered film distribution & production in Singapore and Hong Kong. Besides their involvement in the film industry, the Shaws were also savvy property developers, purchasing and redeveloping many properties across Singapore as well as operating theme parks and pioneering the cineplex typology.

Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography

From the 11th storey car park roof, one has magnificent views towards Raffles City and the newly completed South Beach complex. The lifts also feature my favorite old-school conductive touch lift buttons which are so rare to find these days.

Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography
Shaw Tower Singapore Architecture Photography

As of writing [2020], the building is pending redevelopment and its final tenants are vacating, as adjacent building works at Guoco Midtown and Midtown Suite begin to rise around and engulf it.


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