This abandoned rail corridor in Singapore will soon be a nationwide linear park, and these firms are competing to design it

City Terrain International Landscape Architecture Urbanism
(Courtesy Urban Redevelopment Authority)

(Courtesy Urban Redevelopment Authority)

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has shortlisted five winning design firms for an RFP to overhaul the Singapore Rail Corridor.

Defunct since 2011 and once a prominent Singapore–Malaysia trade route, the railway spans the entire country from north to south starting at the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the Woodlands Checkpoint.

A competition launched by the URA requested proposals to transform the 15-mile stretch into a public greenway connecting four important urban nodes: Buona Vista, the Bukit Timah Railway Station area, former Bukit Timah Fire Station, and Kranji.

The five shortlisted design teams are as follows:

  • West 8 and DP Architects
  • Grant Associates and MVRDV with Architects 61
  • Turenscape International and MKPL Architects
  • Nikken Sekkei with Tierra Design
  • OLIN Partnership and OMA Asia with DP Architects
(Courtesy Urban Redevelopment Authority)

The historic railway stretches across the island (Courtesy Urban Redevelopment Authority)

“The expanse of the corridor running through the center of the entire country presents an unprecedented opportunity to develop a new typology of landscape with transformative effects for the country as a whole,” said Michael Kokora, partner at OMA, one of five shortlisted firms. “This is a project that has the potential to improve quality of life for generations to come.”

(Courtesy OMA)

(Courtesy OMA)

To progress beyond Stage 2A, the selected firms will have to draw up a feasibility study and present preliminary designs for a 2.5-mile signature stretch designated as a “green gateway” to the Rail Corridor.

The landscape architecture is a linchpin in the evaluation process, seeing as the brief calls for the conversion of the railway into a “leisure corridor for shared sports, arts and community activities” while leveraging the tropical environment. The URA launched the “Rail Corridor – An Inspired and Extraordinary Community Space” RFP in March 2015. Sixty-four design teams responded.

(Courtesy OMA)

(Courtesy OMA)

Stage 2B will commence by the end of this year following a public exhibition held from October to November 2015 by the five shortlisted teams. After assimilating public feedback, the winning teams will work with the URA to refine the Concept Master Plan and Concept Designs to account for the provision of services and infrastructure such as cycling tracks, shelters, and toilets.

Evaluation panel member Dr. Malone-Lee Lai Choo, Director for the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities at the National University of Singapore and member of the Rail Corridor Partnership, said, “We were looking for schemes that are particularly strong in responding to the ecology of the site, that respect its natural qualities, while introducing sensitive design interventions to enhance them.”

“They must demonstrate understanding and appreciation of the needs, sentiments and collective aspirations of users and residents. We would also want the Corridor to be an outstanding urban asset, and are therefore open to innovative concepts, particularly in and around the nodes; ideas that demonstrate freshness of approach and potentially exceptional design qualities that will enhance our urban landscape.”

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