Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Rail Corridor takes shape in Singapore as winning plan is picked

Proposals for 24km stretch include paved cycling paths, shelters, event spaces and rainforest viewing platforms
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 10 Nov 2015

The proposal to guide the development of the 24km Rail Corridor plans to make room for a variety of uses, creating paved cycling paths, rest shelters and active event spaces as well as quiet rainforest viewing platforms.

In coming up with its winning concept master plan for the former KTM railway land, Japanese architecture firm Nikken Sekkei and local landscape firm Tierra Design said they wanted the corridor to harmonise with the surroundings it runs through.

But the plans, which were yesterday named the winner of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) design competition, are far from set in stone, and will be shaped and refined in response to feedback.

"What we want to do now is to hear the views of Singaporeans on these proposals," said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong yesterday at the launch of an exhibition on the winning proposals that runs until Nov 28 at The URA Centre in Maxwell Road. "We would like all residents to work closely with us to study the stretches of the Rail Corridor near your community."

In the first quarter of next year, a roving exhibition will take the plans to the communities along the corridor, which runs from Kranji to Tanjong Pagar, with one million people living within 1km of it.

The public is invited to give feedback at the exhibition and online at http://ura.sg/railrfp from now until the end of next March.



URA chief executive officer Ng Lang said public feedback will also shape when the plans for various stretches are implemented.

"The plan for the Rail Corridor has always been not to rush in developing it," said Mr Ng, who chaired the 12-member evaluation panel.

He noted that one point of consensus, which arose in the pre-competition public consultation, was that the Rail Corridor should be "an inclusive space" accessible to all. To that end, the winning proposal features 122 access points to the corridor, up from 30 currently. There are 21 planned "platforms" with amenities such as toilets and rest areas.

A paved cycling path will run its full length. Some stretches of the pedestrian path may be paved to be wheelchair-accessible. Others will remain "wild" underfoot, with the use of natural materials such as gravel or woodchips. And alongside the physical infrastructure, natural greenery along most stretches will be extended and increased as well.

"The greenery and biodiversity are very special," said Nikken Sekkei landscape architect Kaneko Shoji. "It's very peaceful and quiet."

"We wanted to keep that kind of feel, so we don't completely transform it into something different," he added.

The concept master plan also includes proposals for eight "activity nodes" along the Rail Corridor.

For instance, near the one-north business park in Buona Vista will be a space for people to enjoy activities like outdoor film screenings.

In contrast, the Rail Corridor at the former Bukit Timah Fire Station runs close to a part of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve that Nature Society Singapore president Shawn Lum identified as a "diversity hot spot".

There, a forest walk and observation tower will offer a chance to view nature unobtrusively.

Dr Lum, who was a member of the evaluation panel, said it was important to find "the right combination of accessibility and tranquillity" in public enjoyment of nature.

Separately, winning concept proposals were chosen for two spots along the Rail Corridor: the historic former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and an area at Choa Chu Kang to be merged with future residential developments.

Nikken Sekkei and Tierra Design will also work on a preliminary design and feasibility study for a 4km stretch from the former Bukit Timah Railway Station to the Hillview area. This involves looking at details such as the materials and plants to be used, and estimating costs.

The URA also said two steel truss bridges, near the conserved Bukit Timah Railway Station and Rail Mall, will be gazetted as "conserved structures", with the same legal status and protection as various bridges in the Central Business District and the bandstand in the Botanic Gardens.

Additional reporting by Tiffany Fumiko Tay




URA #News Release: http://ow.ly/Up68ZWe have announced the Rail Corridor Request for Proposal awards and the proposed...
Posted by Urban Redevelopment Authority on Monday, November 9, 2015





Great to see the plans for the Rail Corridor taking shape! Imagine a seamless 24km green corridor to walk, jog and...
Posted by Lawrence Wong on Monday, November 9, 2015





Multi-function building and linear forest at two sites
By Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 10 Nov 2015

The former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station will become a multi-function community building while a linear forest will be created in Choa Chu Kang, as part of plans to develop two sites along the 24km rail corridor.

Plans for the sites were unveiled yesterday, at the launch of an exhibition on the winning proposals that runs until Nov 28 at The URA Centre.

Both sites were awarded to a team made up of Chinese company Turenscape International and local firm MKPL Architects, based on the strength of their concept designs.

An "urban green-blue tapestry" is planned for a stretch of the corridor near Pang Sua Canal in Choa Chu Kang. This includes widening the Rail Corridor to create a 50m-wide linear forest.

"What we want to bring back is the rusticity of the Rail Corridor, which everybody loves," said Mr Siew Man Kok, director of MKPL Architects.

The linear forest will be integrated with the existing environment as well as three upcoming housing developments, which have not been confirmed as private or public housing.

Said architect Raymond Woo, who was part of a 12-member panel that evaluated the proposals: "It is a daring scheme that allows residents at all blocks and levels to enjoy the linear forest, with sky bridges for those on the higher floors and communal farming decks for the lower floors."

A deck will also be built over part of the Pang Sua Canal, to link the Rail Corridor with existing developments in the Choa Chu Kang area.

The deck will also allow the waterway to be used for recreational purposes.

Farther south, the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station will be repurposed as a multi-function community building, and is expected to include facilities such as a heritage gallery and space for pop-up retail outlets.

The plans also call for a new public park where community events can be held, to be located where the railway station's carpark was.

The team also proposed an additional entrance and exit for the future Cantonment MRT station on the Circle Line, which will incorporate the existing railway platforms.

The team said it was mindful of the history of the station when coming up with the concept designs.

"The proposal is sensitive and befitting to the station's stature as a national monument and icon of our railway history," said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

The former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station is slated for community use for the next 20 years, and will be re-evaluated taking into account development plans for the area.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is seeking feedback on the submitted design concepts from stakeholders as well as the public through the first quarter of next year.

URA chief executive officer Ng Lang has said public feedback will also shape when the plans for various stretches are implemented.





Bridges to be gazetted 'endearing landmarks'
By Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times, 11 Nov 2015

Two heavy steel truss bridges in Bukit Timah - opened in 1932 as part of the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway line - have served as landmarks for decades.

For passengers, the structures meant that they were at the halfway point of their journey through Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, and for motorists, it marked the 7th and 9th miles of Bukit Timah Road.

On Monday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the bridges will soon be gazetted for conservation. They will join the ranks of other conserved structures such as the iconic bandstand in the Botanic Gardens and the Cavenagh Bridge next to Fullerton Hotel.

The bridges comprise a 45m-long one across Bukit Timah and Dunearn roads near the defunct Bukit Timah Railway Station, and a 60m-long one near the Rail Mall in Upper Bukit Timah Road.

The URA described the bridges as "endearing local landmarks" that capture Singapore's railway heritage and provide seamless connectivity for Rail Corridor users.

On Monday, the URA also unveiled the winning concept masterplan for the Rail Corridor. The plans included design solutions for the two bridges, to facilitate safer crossings for different users.

Designed by Singapore's United Engineers, the bridges were built as part of a realignment for a more direct route into the city centre.

Architectural historian Lai Chee Kien said the Bukit Timah and Dunearn roads bridge replaced the original line as it was often flooded.

The heritage community welcomed the move to protect the bridges. Dr Lai said they are essential to the Rail Corridor's continuity.

Singapore Heritage Society exco member Yeo Kang Shua reckons the upcoming gazette shows that industrial heritage is also gaining recognition. "Bridges are important both physically and metaphorically."

Elaborating on his personal memory of the bridges, heritage enthusiast and naval architect Jerome Lim said they signified his return to Singapore in the early 1990s when he travelled up to Kuala Lumpur to visit his Malaysian girlfriend, who eventually became his wife.

"The bridges were something I looked out for because it meant that I was reaching home," he said.

"The 7th-mile marker was where the Yeo Hiap Seng drink manufacturer's factory once stood and it was where a passenger could see right through the squatter shacks which were very close to the tracks by the factory."

Dr Lai said that Bukit Timah used to be home to many industries which were served by the railway, including Tien Wah Press, Hume Industries and the Ford Factory.

Heritage experts also raised the importance of conserving a similar steel truss bridge structure across Sungei Ulu Pandan at Clementi which used to be part of the rail's Jurong line.

Heritage enthusiast and blogger Mr Lim said much of that line, which was built in the 1960s, has been dismantled or is at risk of being erased. He said: "It is possibly the largest and most visible structure from the Jurong line. It was an essential component in the development of Jurong Industrial Estate."










Rail Corridor can be a more inclusive community space

We conducted four years of extensive public consultations before embarking on the recent round of request for concept design proposals for the Rail Corridor ("Keep rustic feel of Rail Corridor"; last Sunday).

One recurrent theme that cropped up in the consultations is to make the Rail Corridor a more inclusive community space for people from all walks of life, while retaining its signature experience.

At 24km long, the Rail Corridor can take on differentiated characters along its route to serve the needs of the community, and be a continuous trail that links nature and heritage.

There can be a few activity nodes interspersed along the route that are complementary to the surroundings and cater to the needs of nearby communities. Nodes that are adjacent to homes and workplaces, such as in the Buona Vista and one-north areas, can take on a more urban character.

Other stretches, such as near the conserved Bukit Timah Railway Station, can remain more natural. To strengthen the "green corridor" experience, we will be working with the design teams and agencies on an appropriate natural landscape and planting strategy to regenerate the vegetation and enhance biodiversity along selected stretches of the Corridor.

The Rail Corridor's railway heritage will be strengthened. The design teams have recommended suitable new uses for the former railway stations to encourage more people to visit and learn about these historical landmarks. Other ideas include new way-finding signs and basic amenities reminiscent of former railway artefacts and platforms.

We will work with the design teams and community to consider other ways to further heighten the sense of memory and heritage of the Rail Corridor.

We will also need to consider suitable materials to improve the trail so that it will not be easily rutted and damaged as a result of wet weather or excessive use. The choice of material and design will be consistent with the character of the Corridor. An improved and safer trail with basic amenities will allow people of all ages and abilities to access the Rail Corridor and enjoy what it offers.

The exhibited plans are not final, and we welcome the public to provide their comments on the proposals. We hope to continue working closely with the community to make the Rail Corridor a unique community space that is inclusive to all.

Tan See Nin
Senior Director, Physical Planning
Urban Redevelopment Authority
ST Forum, 22 Nov 2015



















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