Visiting the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (Video)

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre

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.

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Building
The structure is arty, modern, yet traditional at the same time, isn’t it?

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.

SINGAPO人 Interactive Exhibition
The exhibition begins with a futuristic tunnel with video presentations. This is the view looking outwards. My feature image above shows the view leading inwards. (The tunnel feels Star Trekky, doesn’t it?)
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Permanent Exhibition
Zone 2 highlights Chinese practices, beliefs, and cultures that continue to exist today. The display style reminds me of the Growing Up exhibition over at the National Museum of Singapore.
Singapore Chinese New Year Symbols and Snacks
Introduction of auspicious items and snacks associated with Chinese New Year. (I’m going to include information from here in my future Chinese festive write-ups!)
SINGAPO人 Zone 3: When Cultures Meet?
Zone 3, titled “When Cultures Meet?” outlines the linguistic development of Chinese dialects in Singapore, including interactions with other local languages such as Malay. There are also video presentations and interactive games here.
Singapore Chinese Hawker Food
An interlude of sorts follows Zone 3. Devoted to Chinese Hawker cuisine, this was my favourite part of SINGAPO人, partly because I just wrote a list of tips on visiting hawker centres.
Singaporean Chinese Hawker Food Presentation
The best part of the hawker food showcase is this animated presentation, which is done in its own chamber and at a hawker centre table. I learned new things here too. For example, Yong Tou Fu was actually developed as a replacement for Northern Chinese dumplings.
SINGAPO人 Zone 4: Made in Singapore
Though titled “Made in Singapore,” Zone 4 is not just a showcase of local products. It highlights how Singaporean Chinese heritage is integrated into food, the arts, and pop culture.
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Interactive Exhibition
The futuristic Zone 5 resembles a factory line and is a homage to Singaporean Chinese brands that are nowadays famous worldwide. In some of the pictures above, you might have also noticed big round buttons beside the displays. Answer questions with these buttons and a wristband and you can use the panels here to determine which celebrity you’re most like.
Zone T: The Story So Far is curiously situated at the middle of the exhibition; right opposite the hawker food showcase. It’s a timeline/milestones presentation. One that highlights key moments in local history?

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.

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre View
Marina Bay Cruise Centre can be clearly seen. This view would look great once the roadworks are done.
Tanjong Pagar Terminal
Tanjong Pagar Terminal. That boom lift spoilt my shot.
Singapore Shenton Way Skyscrapers
Nearby Shenton Way skyscrapers. (Used to be my childhood ambition to work in one of these. Oh well)

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.

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Roof Garden
The serene garden was quite the oasis. There was no one when I visited. The tranquillity was immensely uplifting.
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Roof Garden
The nearby skyscrapers feel closer than ever. (They will also completely disappear if you’re facing South)
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre Funderland Tigers
There was a lot of tiger-themed artwork in the garden too, probably because it’s currently the Chinese Year of the Tiger. I’m thrilled because I’m also a tiger!

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!

Update: With the opening of the Thomson East Coast Line, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre is just minutes away from Shenton MRT Station. Use Exits 3 or 4 and the centre is in full view.

Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre at Night
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre at night, as viewed from Shenton MRT Station.

Read my other Home Tourist photo essays.

Wednesday Visit to the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre  (Video)
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Wednesday Visit to the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (Video)
Visiting the beautiful roof garden and SINGAPO人exhibition of the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre on a quiet Wednesday.

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