The Old Supreme Court building in singapore is not only an architectural icon but also a historical landmark that dates back to 1939. Designed by Frank Dorrington Ward, the chief architect of the Straits Settlements Public Works Department, it is considered to be one of Ward’s greatest works and the last classical building completed in Singapore.
The Old Supreme Court building was given a new lease on life in 2015 when it was repurposed as the National Gallery Singapore. This transformation has not only preserved the historical significance of the building but also provided a platform for showcasing Singapore’s rich artistic heritage.
One of the most striking features of the Old Supreme Court building is its resemblance to the Old Bailey Courthouse in London. The central dome, Corinthian and Ionic columns, and the classical façade are reminiscent of the iconic courthouse in London. It is believed that Ward drew inspiration from the Old Bailey Courthouse while designing the Old Supreme Court building.
The central dome of the Old Supreme Court building is a focal point of the architectural design. It is supported by Corinthian and Ionic columns, which add to the grandeur of the building. The columns and the tympanum, the triangular piece above the columns, were created by Cavaliere Rudolfo Nolli, a Singapore-based Milanese sculptor. These intricate sculptures were carved out of gypsum plaster and display exquisite craftsmanship.
The sculptures in the tympanum carry symbolic significance. The central figure represents Justice, while the figure on the left represents Mercy and the figure on the right represents the Law. The presence of these symbols emphasizes the importance of law and order in society. Other figures symbolize Gratitude and Prosperity, highlighting the positive outcomes that result from a system where law and order prevail.
Stepping inside the Old Supreme Court building, one is greeted by an austere interior that reflects the period in which it was built – the Great Depression. Gypsum plaster was used to finish the cornices and the main hall, adding a touch of elegance to the building. The Art Deco flooring, made of rubber, not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also helps to absorb loud noises, creating a serene environment within the building.
The Rotunda Library, located in the middle of the building, is an exquisite space worth exploring. The library showcases detailed workmanship, relief panelling, and distinctive cornices. It is a testament to the architectural prowess of Ward and the craftsmanship of the artisans involved in its construction.
The transformation of the Old Supreme Court building into the National Gallery Singapore has provided a platform for showcasing Singapore’s rich artistic heritage. The gallery houses a vast collection of Southeast Asian art, including works by renowned artists such as Georgette Chen and Liu Kang. The galleries are thoughtfully curated, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the diverse cultural and artistic expressions of the region.
The National Gallery Singapore also plays a crucial role in promoting art education and fostering creativity among the younger generation. It offers a wide range of educational programs, workshops, and guided tours, catering to both students and art enthusiasts. These initiatives aim to cultivate an appreciation for art and heritage, nurturing the next generation of artists and cultural custodians.
In addition to its role as a cultural institution, the National Gallery Singapore is also a venue for various events and exhibitions. It hosts temporary exhibitions featuring both local and international artists, providing a platform for dialogue and exchange of ideas. The gallery’s unique blend of historical and contemporary architecture adds a distinctive charm to these events, creating a memorable experience for visitors.
The Old Supreme Court building, now the National Gallery Singapore, stands as a testament to Singapore’s rich history and cultural heritage. Its transformation into a world-class art institution has not only preserved its architectural grandeur but also provided a platform for promoting art and culture. Whether you are an art enthusiast, history buff, or simply curious about Singapore’s past, a visit to the National Gallery Singapore is a must. It offers a journey through time, where the old and the new seamlessly coexist, celebrating Singapore’s vibrant artistic and cultural landscape.
Address And Location:
1 St Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957
Monday-Thursday, Sat & Sun 10am-7pm
1 St Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957