Singapore DBS Building – New Era of Singaporean Economy

Source: Fong, Leslie. “Signing of $36m contract marks a new era.” The Straits Times, May 29, 1971.

The Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) Building marked a new era of economic development for Singapore, as well as a new approach for the government to oversee the field and help make a pathway towards a new identity of economic power in Southeast Asia.

As shown from the new clipping above, the news described the project as a turning point of Singapore in terms of property development. Apart from the immense financial investment for the construction as stated in the news, the reporter also used remarkable terms to make metaphors and emphasize the radical significance of the project such as the use of pyramids and the Great Wall. The news clearly indicated the positive momentum and hope from the society that the project might bring a drastic change to Singaporean economy.

The news also portrayed the prospect of the Bank itself:

“…throughout the planning, design and execution of this project, the DBS’s aim is to achieve a high-standard building that in functionally efficient and, at the same time, architecturally distinctive and aesthetically pleasing.”1

The statement shows that the Bank would like to use architecture as a device to deliver the message about the transformation of Singapore as well as the economy from the weak condition to a modern and up-to-date one. Without a doubt, the architects related to the project – Architects Team 3 – had a close relation to its nation with local identity and Western education, their design would be a new statement of how Singaporean created their new form of identity based on economic activities and modernity.

The background of the Bank would also be significant as well. The establishment of DBS was largely pushed by the government in order to create a financial institution to support the local economy and specialized in industrial modernization, providing loans and financial support to the industrialists and construct a more comprehensive economic foundation for further development ( Development Bank of Singapore Ltd., 1969.). The Bank itself became an active stakeholder in redeveloping the urban core of Singapore into a modern urban center.

  1. Development Bank of Singapore Ltd. (1969). Annual report. Singapore: Author, pp. 4–6.

1 Comment on “Singapore DBS Building – New Era of Singaporean Economy

  1. A good project research of you. You introduced the political and financial context of Singapore in 1960s to 70s and stated the key conflicts and issues. Then, the objectives and intentions of the government to plan such a DBS Building was analyzed. Later, the background of the Golden Shoe area, the architects as well as the detailed planning were given to analyze the important identity behind the building itself which the government hoped to build.

    However, I suppose more archival images and words you can add to support your view that Singaporean government needed to establish a new identity urgently.

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