The Gateway Singapore: Futuristic Architecture at Its Best

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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.

Okay, I confess: We actually have 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:

Tops of The Gateway Singapore with clouds in background and tree leaves in upper left and bottom right corner.

The Gateway

This is The Gateway, design ed by world-famous Chinese-American architect, I.M. Pei. It may look like a single building from this angle, but 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. His goal was to “symbolize the ‘Gateway' to Singapore,” inviting and welcoming visitors from all over the world.

Seen from the right angle, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to picture a gateway. Seen from another angle, however, they look like standing panes of glass. We all know it's an optical illusion, of course. These are office buildings and no one can work in a two dimensional building.

If you look closely, you will realize that the buildings were actually built as trapezoids with really, really sharp corners. That is what accounts for the bizarre, flat building effect.

The Gateway building looking like a flat piece of paper

Bad feng shui?

Directly next to the building, there's a huge piece of land that remains undeveloped despite its close proximity to Nicoll Highway MRT Station. It's an excellent location for development, but 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.

Other views of The Gateway

You can still see the buildings – and new water features – if you're not in Singapore. Just click on one of the photos in Google Maps. You'll have to check out The Gateway East and The Gateway West separately to see all the photos and appreciate its weird, flat appearance from each of the multiple angles. You can also get a bird's eye view from the air, which will help you picture how the buildings are laid out on the property.

The Gateway building showing the harsh lines


  • 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.
  • If you’d like to photograph the architecture yourself, head to Beach Road in the downtown area of Singapore. The city’s hop on-hop off bus tour passes by as well (which is how we discovered a lot of the cool architecture we photographed).

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages has inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

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