Modern comforts with a classic twist

Former office tower takes on new lease of life as an Ascott serviced residence

PREVIOUSLY the tallest tower in South-east Asia, the former Asia Insurance Building overlooking Marina Bay is now enjoying a new lease of life as a premium serviced residence.

The national heritage building was gazetted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in April and has been caringly restored by The Ascott Group through a $60-million conservation and restoration effort.

Renamed Ascott Singapore Raffles Place, the first 50 serviced apartments are now available for leasing, with the remaining 96 slated for completion in time for its official opening in October this year. Meeting rooms and a fine-dining restaurant by award-winning chef Julien Bompard are also complete, with work on other facilities still underway.

The Asia Insurance Building was the first modern high-rise office building designed and constructed in Singapore after World War II. It symbolised Singapore’s development as an important financial hub, and is one of the few remaining highrise buildings from the ’50s.

Residents will find an original James-Cutler-designed brass mail chute which has been conserved for use at the serviced residence. James Cutler was an American designer and architect who invented the mail chute in the 1880s in which mail could be dropped from a high point and collected at a central depository.

Ascott also retained more than 300 brass window frames and replaced over 1,000 glass panels to insulate against the sun and the bustle of the city traffic. Some 20,000 pieces of original premium Travertine marble cladding were hand secured.

A footway around the perimeter of the building made from Nero Portaro Italian marble was also conserved.

Ms Jennie Chua, Ascott president said: “Ascott Raffles Place offers a timeless remembrance of Singapore’s heritage with modern comforts of international standards right at the heart of the business district and lifestyle hub.”

Mr Shriniwas Rai, a lawyer who previously worked in the Asia Insurance Building for 35 years, recalled fondly: “To me, it is one of the few buildings which can be truly considered as Singapore’s national architecture heritage.”

Source : Today – 7 Aug 2008

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