Quiet weekday afternoon visit to the ultramodern Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre near Shenton Way.
The Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre has been around for a while, but I confess, I only properly learned about it earlier this year.
Oh, I’ve long read about it online, of course. But for some reason, perhaps because I used to study there, I always assumed the “SCCC” is the new name for NTU’s Chinese Heritage Centre. Correspondingly, I wondered why anyone would travel all the way to the campus to visit.
Well, ahem, I realised my mistake in March this year, and after putting it aside for yet another six months, I finally headed down to the Tanjong Pagar area to check out the centre. I was especially looking forward to the unusually named SINGAPO人 exhibition on the second floor. (I think it’s meant to be read in Chinese dialect. Like, xing-ga-bo-yan in Cantonese)
On this exhibition, it’s interactive and as the description states: a series of modern exhibits that are not at all museum-like. (In other words, starkly different from the Indian Heritage Centre) For most Singaporeans, including non-Chinese, I believe the appeal would also be that of nostalgia rather than education.
The centre itself has a superb roof garden, as well as upper-storey balconies with panoramas of Tanjong Pagar Terminal. Nearby construction and road works render most of these views a mess but if you’re looking for that sort of industrial photos, with cranes and scaffoldings galore, I dare say this is one of the best free places in Singapore to head to.
I headed up to the balconies after going through the exhibition, and it was the perfect windy epilogue for my visit.
“Discovering a Vibrant Chinese Singaporean Culture”
Before I introduce the SINGAPO人 exhibition, allow me to share some information about the centre, particularly, its eyecatching architecture.
Located behind the Singapore Conference Hall at 1 Straits Boulevard, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre is a multi-use complex with exhibition facilities, offices, and of course, a permanent interactive exhibition. The Centre also collaborates with arts and cultural groups, and community partners, to promote and develop local Chinese culture. If you go through the website, you will see it has all sorts of venues for hire.
Opened in May 2017 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the building itself is quite a work of art too. The lower structure evokes memories of classic Chinese architecture while the striking glass box crown is like a showcase under the sunlight. If you’re interested, do read more about the superb design by DP Architects Pte Ltd by clicking this link.
SINGAPO人: An Interactive History of the Chinese Community in Singapore
SINGAPO人 is divided into six small zones, with each zone exploring a different aspect of Singaporean Chinese history, identity, or heritage. Overall, the exhibition isn’t “heavy” too, as in there are no complicated charts or long text descriptions and so on.
In short, I doubt anyone would need more than an hour to go through everything.
Stunning Southern Singapore Views & An Awesome Roof Garden
The SINGAPO人 exhibition is on the second floor of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre. From there, tall, tall escalators delivers you to the upper floors where great views await.
At Level 7, an open-air balcony runs the perimeter of the building. As I mentioned above, nearby construction works hamper most of the scenery from this balcony when I visited. That said, I could still see as far as the Southern islands. I could even make out the (very expensive) buildings of Sentosa Cove.
The escalators do not go all the way to the Roof Garden, though; do take note if you’re visiting. To head to the very top, I needed to use the lifts.
The Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm.
SINGAPO人 is open from 2 pm to 8 pm on Mondays, and 10 am to 8 pm from Tuesdays to Sundays. Free guided tours are conducted on Saturday and Sunday afternoons too. Check the official page for timings!