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Nov 15, 2014

Raffles City Then and Now

The Raffles City in Singapore over 30 years is stll young and not described as an old heritage building.  Many visitors to this place for their first time to Singapore wouldn't believe that this famous historical institution was located over a century ago. 

The surrounding buildings are blended with the modern designs and architectures developed and built in the 1980s. 

Like people and places, life is moving forward for the future with hopes and aspirations for improved conditions and situations,  memories of the past looks back.

These selected archived photos are curated with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) to share the memories of Singapore on this nostalgia blog.

"When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered...the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls...bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory"

"Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, and the past perfect!"
~ Owens Lee Pomeroy

The same space for a different purpose at different time.  The big school field for former students to play rugby and other games in 1950s disappeared and later replaced by the Raffles City Shopping Centre which was conferred the title "Best Shopping Experience (Shopping Centre)" by the Singapore Tourism Board in 1998.

The Raffles Institution was relocated to a modern building with latest design, better amenities and bigger school field to cater to the new generations of RI students.  Unlike the noisy heavy traffic sound of the former school in the city, the new RI is located with quiet environment and facilities.

Raffles Institution at its first site bounded by Stamford, North Bridge, Bras Basah and Beach Roads.  Established in 1823 as the Singapore Institution, it was demolished after 1973 when the school moved to Grange Road.

Group photograph of Raffles College.  On the right (front row) in Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Construction of Westin Stamford Hotel, Westin Plaza, Raffles City in 1980.  These archived photos contributed generously by David Ng to NAS.

Artist's impression of Raffles City (late 1980).  Photo credit: Singapore Tourist Promotion Board.

Building design model of Raffles City in 1980

The completed Raffles City as juxtaposed against the photo of the design model

Inside Raffles City -  direction to the Shopping Centre


Groundbreaking on the site took place on 14 August 1980 and officially opened to the public on 3 October 1986.

The complex was designed by l Pei in one of his earliest works in the city state.

Built on the former site of Raffles Institution, the first school in Singapore, and located beside the historic Raffles Hotel, its aluminium-finish and simple geometric designs gave a stark, modernist contrast to Victorian architecture and classical architecture which used to characterize architecture in that district.

The design includes the one-time world's tallest hotel and currently the world's fourteenth tallest hotel, the 73-storey Swissôtel .

The Stamford, as well as a 26 storey high-end twin-tower hotel, the Fairmont Singapore.

The three blocks are complemented by the rectangular 42-storey Raffles City Tower, an office block.


 On 1 January 2002, the two hotels were rebranded as the Swissôtel The Stamford and Raffles The Plaza (now Fairmont Singapore]) when FRHI Hotels & Resorts took over the hotels' management.



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