Singapore is an incredibly cosmopolitan city, with everything from centuries-old buildings to contemporary high rises. Dan and I were so fascinated by the variety in the city that we couldn’t resist photographing some of the fantastic Singapore architecture we saw, such as the twin buildings of The Gateway Singapore.
I confess that we took a slew of photos of the amazing buildings we saw in Singapore. Why? Because the city has a fantastic variety of them, from ultra-modern high rises to traditional buildings with British, Chinese, Malay or Indian features.
Here is one of our favorites:
This is The Gateway, designed by I.M. Pei, one of the most renowned architects of the 20th century. The Chinese-American architect is known for his dramatic, angular buildings. Two of his best known are the Louvre Pyramid and the National Gallery of Art’s East Wing in Washington, D.C.
While it may appear to be a single building from certain angles, The Gateway is actually two separate, 37-story skyscrapers.
Completed in 1990, the two office buildings’ official names are The Gateway East and The Gateway West, but we’ve heard that locals prefer to call them “two towering cardboard boxes.”
Pei built it to face the country’s southeastern shore. He envisioned his creation to “symbolize the ‘Gateway’ to Singapore,” inviting and welcoming visitors from all over the world.
Seen from the right angle, it’s easy to picture them as a gateway. Seen from another angle, however, they look like standing panes of glass. Of course, we all know it’s an optical illusion. After all, these are office buildings and no one can work in a two dimensional building.
If you look closely, you will see that the buildings are in a trapezoid shape. They have really, really sharp corners, which is what accounts for the bizarre, flat-building effect.
Gateway to bad feng shui
Directly next to the building, there’s a huge piece of undeveloped land. It’s an excellent location for development due to its close proximity to Nicoll Highway MRT Station.
However, many Singaporeans are hesitant to build there. They believe the buildings’ sharp edges cause bad feng shui.
“They look like two knife blades!”
“No, that’s The Gateway…”
In this case, “cutting edge design” was a bad idea. From a feng shui perspective, sharp edges create an excess of “bad qi,” or negative energy. Companies that have opened offices in the buildings have gone out of business and, for whatever reason, the buildings have scarce surrounding vegetation.
Finally, The Gateway consulted a renowned feng shui master, who recommended several adjustments to offset the negative design. One of the most obvious: He had them install a specific number of water fountains and small ponds to balance the Metal-heavy towers. (It has something to do with the Castle Gate tactic, but that’s as much as I can tell you.)
While we don’t know if it aided the bottom line for businesses in the building, we have no doubt it helped The Gateway’s negative reputation.
How to see The Gateway Singapore
How to visit The Gateway in person
If you’d like to photograph the architecture yourself, The Gateway can be found at 152 Beach Road in downtown Singapore.
Alternatively, you can view it from atop the Singapore hop on-hop off bus. The bus route passes right by it. That’s how we discovered a lot of the cool architecture we photographed. Check prices here.
ⓘ TIP: The Gateway is an office complex, so there isn’t much to see inside. However, if you want an excuse to enter and take a look around, the embassy of Mexico is located on the 3rd floor of The Gateway East.
How to see The Gateway online
You can still see the buildings and water features if you’re not in Singapore: Just click on one of the photos in Google Maps. It will also give you a bird’s eye view from above, which will help you picture how the buildings are laid out on the property.
You’ll have to check out The Gateway East and The Gateway West separately to see all the photos. They’ll help you appreciate its weird, flat appearance from each of the multiple angles.