Raffles Place – Then and Now

Check out these iconic landmarks nestled in the heart of Raffles Place. Learn more about these spots as you take a trip down memory lane through snippets of Singapore’s growth and significant moments.





Source: Mothership.SG

At a time monumental to Singapore’s history, the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew ordered the construction of the first ever underground car park to be unveiled in Singapore in 1965, the year of the nation’s independence.

As the surface above the car park remained vacant, a rooftop garden featuring flower beds, shrubs and rows of lawns along with ornamental fountains was built. Japanese watch-maker Seiko even designed a massive clock made out of flowers as a lovely addition to the already bountiful garden. This garden  was located at the center of the bustling business district also known as Raffles Square back then.

Following the demolition of the underground carpark, the rooftop garden was  transformed into the lush Raffles Place Park that we know and love today, filled with a variety of sculptures and structures. In place of the former car park, is Raffles Place MRT station, which currently sits underneath the park.

Fast forward to today,  the park is still an oasis for working professionals in the vicinity to unwind at, very much like many years ago.

5 Raffles Place
Singapore 048618



Source: Singapore Institute of Architects

In 1976, Singapore’s and South East Asia’s tallest building was the OCBC Centre building. It cemented its place in the country’s history as one of the first high rise skyscrapers that exemplified the nation’s post-independence financial hub skyline within Raffles Place. 

Consisting of 52 storeys, this unique structure conceptualised by the famous architect I.M. Pei is divided into 3 segments and held together by a heavy slab-like frame. Over the years, the building has been fondly nicknamed ‘The Calculator’ due to its overall flat shape and windows resembling protruding buttons.

It sits on the site of the former China building, which also served as predecessor for the OCBC bank headquarters ever since its founding in 1932.

65 Chulia St
Singapore 049513



The Arcade, as we know it today, is a 20-storey building boasting sea views from its offices, and housing a variety of services, shops, cafes, restaurants and more. Unbeknownst to many, the Arcade possesses a long and rich past and stands to be a pioneering moment in Singapore’s history.


Previously known as the Alkaff Arcade, this iconic landmark was built in 1909 and was the first-ever indoor shopping centre to be opened in Singapore. Stretching from Collyer Quay to Raffles Place, this building was originally constructed with only 4 storeys and has overlooked Singapore’s waterfront for over five generations. 

It was designed with dutch gables and classic arches before being given a makeover in the 1920s, unveiling moorish arches and domes. A final makeover, including the addition of the office block, reached its completion in 1981, and presents the current version of The Arcade that we see today.

11 Collyer Quay
Singapore 049317



Source: Curiocity

The older generation may remember the European departmental store behemoth that is John Little, an iconic building with elaborate design details located at Raffles Square. Residing where the now defunct John Little building used to be, is the 48-storey Singapore Land Tower with a commanding presence over Singapore’s financial hub ever since it was built in 1980.

Source: The Skyscraper Center

This commercial office tower was originally designed by the P&T Group and is currently undergoing a major revamp led by Pritzker Prize winning Fumihiko Maki of Maki & Associates.

50 Raffles Place
Singapore 048623



The first Ocean Building was built in the heart of the premier business district of Raffles Place in 1864, at the height of Singapore’s economic growth. 

The second and third versions were built in 1923 and 1974 respectively, reflecting the ever changing skyline of Singapore during the first few decades of the 20th Century. 

The current Ocean Financial Centre that we see now is actually its fourth building after having gone through a series of renovations and enhancements since its original construction. 

One of the first few key landmarks to be built along the stretch of Collyer Quay, the building and its different versions have evolved throughout a century of Singapore’s history up till the present day. Today, the building stands tall on the very same site as its predecessors, establishing its place as one of the country’s commercial landmarks since its completion in 2011.

10 Collyer Quay
Singapore 049315


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