Urban planning of orchard road

Table of Content

1. Timeline

1.1 Orchard Road Land Use History

The timeline above shows an overview of the land use development of Orchard Road. The land was initially used for plantations and graveyards. It was then slowly utilized for commercial developments and a location for social networking with amenities well-developed to serve the population. Orchard Road was so named as there are many nutmeg plantations, pepper farms and fruit orchards that used to line the street in the 1830s.

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By 1846, the spread of houses had reached up to Tank Road. In the later part of the 1840s, graveyards began to appear along the road. The Chinese had a large graveyard around what is now the Meritus Mandarin Hotel and Ngee Ann City, while the Sumatrans from Bencoolen had their burial ground at the current Grand Central Hotel. A Jewish cemetery was also established later and was located at the present Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station site.

With city development progressing from the Padang area, many plantations had given way to residential development in the 1860s. Private houses and bungalows began to dominate nearby Scotts Road and Tanglin Road.

In the 1900s, much of Orchard Road was still dirt road flanked by trees. Commercial developments on the street only began in the early 20th century. Subsequently, Cold Storage opened its store to provide food supplies. In the 1930s, Orchard Road became the new social magnet for the colonial city, drawing more people to it and slowly gaining popularity. The well-known Orchard Market where Cuppage Plaza now sits, between Cuppage Road and Koek Road, provided fresh products for residents until the mid-1960s. The Cold Storage Milk Bar, now Centrepoint, was also a popular hangout in the 1960s.

In 1958, C.K. Tang Department Store was opened. The trendy Fitzpatrick’s Supermarket was located where Paragon now sits. Wisma Atria sits on what was previously known as the Wisma Indonesia offices of the Indonesian Embassy. Three old theatres on this street were the Pavilion, the original Lido and Orchard Theatre which had Jackie’s Bowl Orchard on the ground floor. Other prominent features include the Orchard Road Car Park hawker stalls which were well-received from both tourists and locals in the late 1960s to 70s, while The Peranakan Place is an excellent attempt to preserve the predominantly Peranakan residence and culture.

From the 1970s to 80s, commercial and hotel development intensified. New buildings that erected included the Mandarin Hotel (1973) and the Marriott Hotel (formerly known as Dynasty Hotel 1982). Since the 1980s, Orchard Road was used to hold public events like the annual Chingay Parades and National Day Float Procession.

With an overview of the past land uses of Orchard Road from 1830s to 1980s, the next section would reveal more about its present land uses as it usher into the 21st century.

2. Present Land Use of Orchard Road

2.1 Orchard Road Today

Today, Orchard Road is a very well established shopping street, renowned in the region and the world. It is a popular destination for visitors, with at least 70% of all tourists visiting it. Stretching close to two kilometers, Orchard Road has about 800,000 square metres gross floor area of shopping and entertainment attractions, complemented by hotels, offices and residences along wide shady boulevards.

Besides being shaped into the nation’s top shopping and entertainment hub, which offers a multi-dimensional lifestyle destination, it is also coupled with a lively street culture regularly visited by the locals and tourists. It has infrastructure that includes underground pedestrian walkways connecting different malls, both beneath Orchard Road as well as other streets in the vicinity. In addition, Orchard Road is also home to 20 hotels and 13 Service Apartments. It is used as a hosting ground for 5 large-scale annual events which includes the Christmas Light-Up, Singapore Fashion Festival and Great Singapore Sale – an enhancement of urban buzz in relation to the 1980s public events mentioned in the first section.

2.2 Orchard Turn – A New Focal Point

“The Orchard Turn building agreement signing ceremony and the handing over of the site marked a significant milestone in the history of Orchard Road.” MR MAH BOW TAN, MINISTER FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (2006)

The Orchard Turn site now known as ION Orchard is an example of a designated landmark site where strong emphasis was placed on excellent architecture and urban design in order to encourage a more distinctive cityscape. It is a new focal point of activity and buzz for Orchard Road. The interesting features of this development include The Orchard Residences, a high-rise residential condominium that was built above the mall with a high-level observation deck for panoramic views of our city, and open plazas for events and celebrations. The Orchard Residences will be the tallest building along the shopping district, standing at 218metres.

The release of the Orchard Turn site is just but one of URA’s many initiatives to rejuvenate Orchard Road. URA has relaxed guidelines on Outdoor Refreshment Areas (ORAs) and Urban Verandas. This will encourage more street life and inject buzz to the area. Incentives were also given to encourage building owners to upgrade their developments and expand their shopping podium up to their boundaries so that shoppers can have more shopping space.

2.3 Orchard Road Development Commission (ORDEC)

In 2005, Mr. Mah Bow Tan, announced the setting up of ORDEC to encourage developments along Orchard Road. This is significant to its present land use because ORDEC’s role is to review major refurbishment or redevelopment proposals. They have a voice in deciding which proposals that innovatively add value to Orchard Road will be supported with development incentives and allow some to deviate from current planning parameters such as land use and building height restrictions.

Apart from the Orchard Turn site, there has been several other prime sites release along Orchard Road. They are the 2 sites above Somerset MRT station developed by Far East Organization and Land Lease. These developments will offer a wider array and variety of shops, entertainment, and arts.

In addition, there is conversion of use taking place along Killiney Road in Orchard. The former KPO that was established in the 1970s, and handed over to SingPost in 1992, was converted into a mixed-use development. Its primary function is a post office while its secondary, an ultra-hip F;B outlet.

With “Great Street” as its positioning statement, the new Orchard Road identity sets an aspiration to be one of the world’s greatest avenues. Aside from the great selection of retail options, Orchard Road offers a delectable spread of culinary selections and choices of accommodations from a variety of hotels and service apartments. Signature annual leisure events and the enchanting Christmas light-up, sets Orchard Road apart from many other shopping avenues around the world. A ‘Great Street’ captures these attributes unique to Orchard Road. It had embarked on a “Orchard Reloaded” programme which is a three-week long event held in April 2009 with interesting and exciting activities pouring into the new Orchard Road.

In recent years, high-rise residential developments began sprouting up as more Singaporeans and expatriates relished living in the glamour of a prime area. Orchard Road, in the highly sought after District 9 location, features many high-rise condominium projects which rank among the most exclusive in Singapore. The vibrancy, close proximity to the commercial and business district (CBD), and amenities available, made Orchard Road one of the most prestigious addresses in Singapore. Having a residential address in District 9 was once only for the wealthy Straits Chinese and European families. However, with rising affluence of Singaporeans and expatriates, more are able to afford the luxurious living offered.

3. Element Defining Unique Character and Significance of Orchard Road

3.1 Architecture Styles Inspired by Singapore Multiculturalism

It could be conjured that Orchard Road was not planned in the early days to be the commercial and renowned shopping belt that is seen today. The presence of cemeteries and the moving of two major departmental stores namely Robinson and John Little from then Commercial Square to Orchard Road only in the early 1970s further accentuate this idea.

Yet Orchard Road shaped up to a class of its own, not built up in a particular distinctive style, the different building elements that exist reveals history and the success in marrying the differences of the various communities in it. Building like the Istana designed in neo-Palladian style remains one of the most prominent icons in Orchard that represents the once colonial stake in the country.

Unlike famous street like the Fifth Avenue in New York City where museums, residences and churches takes up similar Neo-classical and Beaux-Arts style architecture styles , Orchard Road was built up with facades inspired by various parts of the world.

English-owned Fitzpatrick Supermarket carried no distinctive British influence in its design but was simply titled and shaped in an elongated form. The Chinese-styled C.K Tang building inspired by the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City in China, and the Pagoda-styled Marriot Hotel was the fruit of a successful businessman amongst the Chinese who came to Singapore from China. The Balinese-styled Wisma Indonesia offices of the Indonesian Embassy and the bright pastel colours of the shophouses in Peranakan Place aptly signifies the success of Singapore in making people from different part of the world calling Singapore their home.

The ability for various buildings conserved in their former glory and yet aesthetically rejuvenated to be in line with the rest of buildings in Orchard Road is impressive. Restoring and retaining heritage buildings of old world charm and infusing them with modern functionality in Orchard Road is a Uniquely Singapore experience.

Orchard Road now has the latest addition of ION Orchard and Orchard Central, housing flagship stores to heighten the sophistication and exclusivity to Singapore most famous shopping belt. However, amidst these contemporary designs, the sightings of iconic buildings like Tangs and Marriot Hotel retains the flavour of the Chinese-inspired outlook yet blends in seamlessly with the modern urbanized street. The Peranakan shophouses lying between Orchard Emerald and Centrepoint is also an example of old developments that remains compatible in Orchard today. Holding on to the bold Peranakan arches that are common in Peranakan architectural style in its frontage, the shophouses remain subtle to the uninitiated that they were once home to more affluent Strait-Chinese as it serves as a chill-out and dining area now.

Started off as a social ground for the residence of the then colonial city, Orchard Road grew into a modern street and arguably the most renowned shopping district in the city for tourists. The liberal adaptation of various architecture style, inspired by different origins, cultures and heritage reveals a Singapore story – a city of great diversification and an epitome of multiculturalism.

4.1 Vision

“Towards a more attractive, vibrant and connected lifestyle destination where there is something for everyone.”

Anyone looking to spend the day amidst the buzz of the city in comfort would find something in Orchard Road that would make the trip worthwhile. A pedestrian walking on the street of Orchard Road would have an enticing journey enjoying the Street Art and aesthetic building fa�ade that Orchard Road has to offer. Connectivity of all the shopping malls would be established to enhance the shopping experiences in Orchard Road. It will also become a venue for bustling activities and exciting events where the best of city life can be found.

4.2 Implementation Strategy

Three key components for achieving the vision –

More Attractive

* Extensive installation of Urban Verandahs (UVs)

* Sunrise Greenery

* Creating a distinctive streetscape

More Connected

* Improvement of pedestrian traffic

More Vibrant

* Promoting a lively street life

4.2.1 Extensive Installation of Urban Verandahs

An Urban Verandahs (UVs) is an extension of the front facade of a building, which could support ORAs. By having UVs in shopping malls, they can add vibrancy to street life and inject buzz to the area through the provision of a variety of activities such as sitting outdoors, sipping a cup of coffee and watching the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road at an elevation. The proposed plan would be to build UVs with ORAs on all shopping malls. There are currently some UVs on the fa�ade of some shopping malls.

To make Orchard Road more attractive, plans are in the pipeline to build 2nd-storey verandahs with outdoor refreshments. Along the stretch from Marriott Hotel to The Heeren, for example, verandahs could stretch out to the bus stops if developers take up this idea. Adjacent verandahs could also be joined to form a continuous upper tier, so people can stroll from one building to another, then down to bus stops. For those walking at ground level, the verandahs double up as sheltered walkways.

UVs can also enhance pedestrian connectivity by providing sheltered connections between bus-stops and the covered walkways of buildings, as well as between adjacent buildings to form part of the pedestrian circulation.

4.2.2 Sunrise Greenery

In line with URA’s urban landscaping concept of Sunrise Greenery, the developments in Orchard Road would be given incentives to have some form of greenery in and on the buildings. For example, shopping malls are encouraged to erect a rooftop garden. It can serve as a chill-out destination for shoppers. This would strengthen Orchard Road tropical appeal and enhance its identity as “Shopping in the Garden” that distant itself away from the concrete concept of shopping in the city.

4.2.3 Creating a Distinctive Streetscape

In order to create a distinctive streetscape that distinguishes Orchard Road from other shopping streets, street arts would be recommended so as to instill an element of vibrancy and liveliness to the street. There would be art installations on the infrastructures in the street such as utility boxes disguising as furniture pieces and lamp posts with a pinch of creativity. The aim is to create something that is visually arousing to the eye that would have otherwise been dull and uninteresting.

The street art would liberate the frenzied feel of being in a shopping street. As one walks through the street of Orchard Road, these art pieces would bring about a more eye-opening experience.

4.2.4 Improvement of Pedestrian Traffic

On ground, above or underground, seamless and sheltered links will make walking around Orchard Road more enjoyable. The proposed long-term plan for Orchard Road would be to improve pedestrian traffic by building a network of 2nd-storey links between shopping malls, having shelters and open pedestrian walkways as well as underground links connecting all the shopping malls and MRT stations in Orchard Road. This would ameliorate movement, as pedestrians can move from one place to another without having to leave a building or changing from one storey to another.

To complete the comprehensive pedestrian network along the main shopping belt of Orchard Road and Scotts Road, 1st storey links will be built on the common boundaries between the malls. The link will be a sheltered pedestrian walkway connecting two shopping malls.

Outdoor Refreshment Areas can be provided on the roof deck of the 1st storey link at selected locations. The 1st storey link will provide the most direct link between the covered walkway of a shopping mall to that of the adjoining mall. The link will also be provided at location where it provides cover over pedestrian crossings. There would be detailed guidelines to ensure the quality and appearance of these links.

All the malls along Orchard Road would be linked at the 2nd storey by pedestrian links that connect the pedestrian arcades of two developments at the 2nd storey. The linkage will form part of the public circulation network and be directly accessible via lifts or staircases from the 1st storey public concourse areas of the two developments during normal business hours. As the 2nd storey link provides cover for pedestrians at the first storey level, it will be at such a location that will link up the existing 1st storey covered walkways of two developments.

The connectivity of all the shopping malls in Orchard Road would be further enhanced by establishing a comprehensive and convenient underground links that connect all the malls and MRT stations (Orchard, Somerset, Dhoby Ghaut). This will allow pedestrians to walk conveniently from the basement level of one shopping mall to the next in sheltered comfort, as well as to and from MRT stations.

4.2.5 Promoting a Lively Street Life

Street performances by professional buskers would be engaged to perform in the street to inject liveliness. The high quality performances could be held in the existing urban green rooms regularly to cultivate and nurture a lively street culture in this premier shopping street.

Other than street performance, Orchard Road would be equally synonymous with vibrant, all year-round activities and seasonal attractions. There shall be more product launches, concerts and roadshows at public open spaces such as the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza and the Youth Park. All these would ensure that walking along the street of Orchard Road is never boring!

Orchard Road has evolved over the years to become the presently well-known shopping street. In order to remain competitive regionally and globally, there has to be changes to transform Orchard Road into more than just a shopping street. The changes should encompass all the essential qualities of a great street where everyone, would receive a pleasing and satisfying experience when walking down the streets of Orchard Road. This report review the past and present land use of Orchard Road, and also recommend a vision and the implementation strategies that seeks to enhance its attractiveness, vibrancy and connectivity to elevate Orchard Road identity to becoming a Great Street.

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Urban planning of orchard road. (2017, Jul 22). Retrieved from


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