Located in the heart of the Empress Place Civic District, they are two of Singapore’s significant historical buildings and monuments. The Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall have reopened their doors again this July 2014, after a four-year refurbishment. The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is among the leading mid-sized venues for performing arts in Singapore.
The Victoria Theatre was constructed between 1855 and 1862, the older of the two buildings. It was originally built as a Town Hall. By 1883, the Town Hall was unable to cope with the increasing demand and the offices had moved out of the Town Hall. Thereafter, it was converted into a theatre and renamed Victoria Theatre.
The Victoria Concert Hall, formerly known as the Victoria Memorial Hall, was constructed between 1902 and 1905 to honour Queen Victoria, who passed away in 1901. When the Memorial Hall was completed, the Town Hall underwent extensive renovations to complement the former Victorian architectural style. In the year 1909, the Town Hall reopened and renamed Victoria Theatre. The distinctive and tall clock tower, 54 metres high, which has a copper dome surmounted by a crown, joins the Theatre and Memorial Hall together. Playing a significant role in more than 100 years of Singapore’s history, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, as they are known today, played a part in Singapore’s colonial history, the performing arts scene and post-colonial Singapore history.
Gazetted as national monument of Singapore in February 1992, closed for a $158 million renovation in 2010. It was nice to welcome the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall back as they reopened their doors in 2014. Much of its original architecture has been preserved during its refurbishment. During the Open House Weekend on 19th and 20th July 2014, members of the public visited the refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall to re-connect and re-explore the history, culture, connections and significance of Singapore’s oldest performing arts venue. There were guided tours, self-guided tours and various arts and musical performances during the Open House.
Let me bring you through some of the refurbishment details of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall –
The central passageway between Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall that existed originally in 1905 was reinstated through the restoration of the Central Atrium. The Central Atrium today is beautiful, spacious, more open and accessible to the public. The Central Atrium looks and feels grand when standing at the ground floor between the two grand monuments or looking down below from the second or third level of the Victoria Theatre or Victoria Concert Hall.
Victoria Theatre formerly was able to accommodate 900 guests. Today, it has been reduced to 614 seats in order to create a more intimate theatre. The Victoria Theatre’s Acoustics was given a unique feature with the usage of varying recycled cast-iron components extracted from the historical classic red chairs of Victoria Theatre. They have been used to form horizontal bands across the acoustic timber walls, giving it an aesthetic effect that harmonises well with the acoustic permutations required.
Victoria Theatre’s Foyer Space
On the second floor of the Victoria Theatre, above the ceiling, there is a modernized “floating Rubik’s Cube” to support the front-of-house programs, complementing the contrast against the building’s neo-classical façade. The “Rubik Cube” is constructed from the timber seat backings from the original Victoria Theatre chairs. It’s a very interesting sight of retaining a part of Victoria Theatre’s history into the refurbished façade today.
Victoria Concert Hall
The Victoria Concert Hall retained much of its old world charm with its classical proportions and elaborate ornamentation. The balcony overhang was reduced during its refurbishment period to free up volume and improve acoustics.
The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall had provided different memories and experiences for Singaporeans. The National Arts Council and Singapore Memory Project have partnered together to capture and document precious and priceless memories, moments and stories relating to Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Visitors are strongly encouraged to share their images (of old and currently refurbished) taken at the iconic monuments of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. If you are uploading them to Instagram, remember to hashtag #irememberVictoria.
Here are the photographs that I took during the Open House and I would like to thank National Arts Council and Waggener Edstrom Communications for the guided tour arrangement!
Created with flickr slideshow.