Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (also known as the Esplanade Theatres or simply The Esplanade) is a performing arts centre located in Downtown Core near the mouth of the Singapore River. Named after the nearby Esplanade Park, it consists of a concert hall which seats about 1,600 and a theatre with a capacity of about 2,000 for the performing arts.

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Exterior of centre, viewed from Marina Bay (c.2010)
General information
LocationDowntown Core
Address1 Esplanade Dr
Singapore 038981
Groundbreaking11 August 1996
Opened2 October 2002
Inaugurated12 October 2002
CostS$600 million
ManagementEsplanade Company, Ltd.
Technical details
Size60,000 m2 (6.0 ha)
Floor count4
Design and construction
DeveloperPWD Consultants
Structural engineerCPG Consultants
Civil engineerT. Y. Lin International
Other designers
  • ARTEC Consultants
  • alwitra
  • Elmich
  • Theatre Project Consultants
  • Atelier Group
  • Mero Raumstruktur
Main contractorPenta-Ocean Construction
Other information
Seating capacity1,950 (Lyric Theatre)
1,827 (Concert Hall)
600 (Outdoor Theatre)
450 (Annexe Studio)
245 (Recital Studio)
220 (Theatre Studio)
Venue Website


Aerial panorama of Singapore's Downtown Core
Aerial panorama of Singapore's Downtown Core. The Esplanade Theatre sits to the right of the panorama.


In 1989, the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Ong Teng Cheong, produced a report assessing the status of arts in Singapore. The report would form the blueprint for cultural policy in Singapore, and led to the establishment of the National Arts Council and National Heritage Board. The report noted a lack of suitable performance arts venues; for example, Victoria Theatre was deemed only suitable for small to medium-sized performances, while Victoria Concert Hall was similarly lacking in its seating capacity and stage size. It recommended that a new performing arts centre be built, and in 1992 the Singapore Arts Centre (now known as "Esplanade Co Ltd") was established to build the Esplanade.[1]


The name for the centre was revealed in 1994. It was named after Esplanade due to its significant presence in the Esplanade Park.[2]


Planning for the construction of the centre started in 1992, headed by the Singapore Arts Centre Co. Construction officially started on 11 August 1996, with a groundbreaking ceremony officiated by then Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Tony Tan.[3] The Esplanade occupies the site of the former "Satay Club", a popular food haunt for Singaporeans which had been discontinued prior to the Esplanade's construction. The "Satay Club" had been relocated next to Sembawang Shopping Centre,[4][5][6] before closing down.

The Esplanade was developed at a cost of about SGD 600 million.[4]


Completed in February 2001, the centre was officially opened on 12 October 2002, by the then President of Singapore S. R. Nathan.[7]

2002 to present

On 5 July 2005, the opening ceremony of the 117th IOC Session was staged in the Esplanade, featuring a 30-minute-long performance aimed at showcasing Singapore's multi-cultural heritage to her international audience.[4]

For its last financial year ending March 2014, the Esplanade incurred a loss of S$2.3 million, the first operating deficit since its opening. This loss was despite the Esplanade racking up relatively similar numbers in terms of audience attendance and activities from the previous year and was attributed primarily to the drop in sponsorship and donations.[8]

Esplanade MRT station opened on 17 April 2010 providing a connection to the island's train system.


The Esplanade 4, Singapore, Dec 05
Aluminium sunshades ornament the roof of the Esplanade.

The building was designed by two architectural firms working in conjunction: by DP Architects (DPA) of Singapore and the London-based Michael Wilford & Partners (MWP), although the latter left the project in May 1995. The design consists of two rounded space frames fitted with triangulated glass elements and sunshades, which balance outward views with solar shading.[9]

The original design, presented to the public in 1994, consisted of unadorned glass cases over the theatres, and initially elicited criticisms from the public, including calling it "two copulating aardvarks". Critics also accused that the design is insensitive to Singapore's location and climate as it would have created a greenhouse in the tropical climate of Singapore, but according to DPA director Vikas Gore some form of shading was always intended,[10] and a cladding of aluminium sunshades was added to the final design. The unique architectural design has been said to have an appearance similar to either a durian (a tropical fruit) or the eyes of a fly. Hence, the building is colloquially known to locals as "the big durians".[11]. More than 7,000 triangular aluminium sunshades that cover its two circular glass shell structures looked somewhat like spikes on two halves of the fruit. The structure wasn’t meant to be a durian; it ended up being like that because it seemed to the architects the most interesting way of doing sunshades. They wanted to use glass because the views from Esplanade are beautiful in all directions, but since Singapore is so close to the equator, the structure also had to be protected from the sunshine and heat radiation.[12]


Performance venues

Other than performing venues, the Esplanade also contains meeting venues, as well as other lifestyle and arts related services. The concert hall and theatre are connected to the main concourse via a foyer, while the Esplanade Mall is accessible through an entry point located between these 2 halls.[13]

Concert hall
Esplanade concert hall circle 2 reception
Foyer to the concert hall

The concert hall serves as a venue for concerts, recitals, and other performances. There are only five other halls in the world with such state-of-the-art acoustics.[14]

The orchestral platform is able to hold up to 120 musicians.

The concert hall's pipe organ comprises 4740 pipes and 61 stops. It was designed and built by Johannes Klais Orgelbau.

The Concert Hall is able to seat about 1,600 people over four levels. Types of seats include Stalls, Foyer stalls, and Circles 1, 2, and 3. There are another 200 seats in the choir stalls behind the concert hall stage, which may be converted into Gallery seats for an additional 200 people.


The Lyric Theatre which has a capacity of about 2,000 seats is a type of an adaptation of the horseshoe form of a traditional European opera house.

Recital Studio

The fan-shaped Recital Studio is able to contain 245 people and is a venue for small scale chamber musical performances, as well as presentations and meetings.

Theatre Studio

The Theatre Studio, with a capacity of up to 220, is a small setting for experimental theatre and dance presentations.

Other facilities

The library@esplanade, located on the third floor, is Singapore's first public library devoted to the performing arts. There are also outdoor performing centres, and retail and food space at the Esplanade Mall. There is an outdoor open space on the fourth floor of the building, which is the highest point open to the public.


Esplanade's programmes are broadly organised around key areas – the community and access programmes form the foundation of activities at the centre, collaborations with mainly local arts groups help develop the industry, while leading international productions aim to offer innovative programmes in the major arts genres. These programmes are presented in different festivals and series designed to appeal to a broad range of audiences.

Esplanade's in-house programming team presents over 14 festivals and 20 on-going series throughout the year.

Featured acts

In the relatively short time that The Esplanade has been open it has played host to acts and performances, including the Queen musical We Will Rock You, Avenue Q and the defunct Mosaic Music Festival.[15] It has also championed locally based acts.

Photo gallery

Esplanade Theatres on the Bay Singapore at blue hour

Esplanade Theatres on the Bay at blue hour

Singapore - Merlion Park-Esplanade-Marina Square

The durian-shaped Esplanade stands out in front of the Marina Square area

Stage of the Theatre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore, during rehearsals - 20070119

Interior of the Theatre

Interior of the Theatre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore - 20070119

Interior of the Theatre

Interior of the Concert Hall, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore - 20070119-01

Interior of the Concert Hall

Interior of the Concert Hall, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore - 20070119-02

Interior of the Concert Hall

Esplanade at night June June 2009

The Esplanade at night

Esplanade close

Closeup of the Esplanade shades


Aerial view of the Esplanade

Theatre and Concert Hall, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore - 20110528

Performing Arts Centre, Esplanade, Marina Bay

See also

External links


  1. ^ Lily Kong; Ching Chia-ho; Chou Tsu-Lung. Arts, Culture and the Making of Global Cities: Creating New Urban Landscapes in Asia. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 89–90. ISBN 9781784715847.
  2. ^ "Design for world-class arts centre unveiled". NewspaperSG (Originally from The Straits Times). 22 July 1994. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Esplanade Theatres on the bay Singapore - So Much to Choose From!". SG Travel. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b c MobileReference (1 January 2007). Travel Singapore: Illustrated Travel Guide, Phrasebook, and Maps. MobileReference. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-60501-015-1. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  5. ^ "T.Y. Lin International Group | Projects | The Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay". T.Y.Lin.
  6. ^ "Satay Club". Infopedia. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  7. ^ "It's showtime at the Esplanade". NewspaperSG (Originally from The Straits Times). 13 October 2002. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  8. ^ Martin, Mayo (12 November 2014). "Esplanade posts losses for first time". MediaCorp. TODAY. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  9. ^ DP Architects : The Master Architect Series.
  10. ^ "Interview Vikas Gore: Esplanade Integrates Modern and Asian Elements". ABC Interview with Vikas Gore. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009.
  11. ^ The New York Times "Travel Guide: Singapore"
  12. ^ "#mydurian. Yours Too". Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  13. ^ Collin Anderson (2016). DP Architects on Marina Bay: Designing for Reclaimed Lands. Oro Editions. ISBN 9781941806975.
  14. ^ "Concert Hall introduction in Esplanade homepage". Archived from the original on 12 November 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2007.
  15. ^ Mosaic Music Festival

Coordinates: 1°17′23.6″N 103°51′18.3″E / 1.289889°N 103.855083°E

117th IOC Session

The 117th International Olympic Committee Session was held for the first time in Singapore from 2 to 9 July 2005. Two important decisions were made through voting during the session – namely the selection of the hosting city for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and a review of the 28 sports currently represented in the summer games.

The session was held at the Raffles City Convention Centre, which is on level 4 of the Raffles City complex. The opening ceremony on 5 July 2005 was held at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Architecture of Singapore

The architecture of Singapore displays a range of influences and styles from different places and periods. These range from the eclectic styles and hybrid forms of the colonial period to the tendency of more contemporary architecture to incorporate trends from around the world. In both aesthetic and technological terms, Singapore architecture may be divided into the more traditional pre-World War II colonial period, and the largely modern post-war and post-colonial period.

Traditional architecture in Singapore includes vernacular Malay houses, local hybrid shophouses and black and white bungalows, a range of places of worship reflecting the ethnic and religious diversity of the city-state as well as colonial civic and commercial architecture in European Neoclassical, gothic, palladian and renaissance styles.

Modern architecture in Singapore began with the transitional Art Deco style and the arrival of reinforced concrete as a popular building material. International Style modern architecture was popular from the 1950s to the 1970s, especially in the public housing apartment blocks. The Brutalist style of architecture was also popular in the 1970s. These styles coincided with the great urban renewal and building boom periods in Singapore history, and consequently these are the most common architectural styles seen on the island. Some of the more architecturally significant works of this period include Pearl Bank Apartments by Tan Cheng Siong, and the People's Park Complex and Golden Mile Complex by Design Partnership.

Post-modern architecture experiments, in both the 'historicist' and deconstructivist modes made an appearance in the 1980s, though the style was relatively muted in its expression. Another architectural trend has been the rediscovery of Singapore's architectural heritage, leading to an active conservation programme as well as a booming industry in the restoration of historic buildings, often adapting them to new uses. A recent example is the National Museum of Singapore.

An important area of local innovation has involved seeking to develop a form of modern architecture appropriate to Singapore's tropical climate. This climatically sensitive approach to architecture traces its roots back to the vernacular Malay houses and through to experiments by British colonial architects and early local nationalist architects to devise an authentically local architecture using modern construction methods. In the 1980s and especially from the late 1990s, this has led to a proliferation of what might be called 'modern tropical' architecture, or neo-tropical architecture. It involves a return to clean and simple rectilinear modernist forms, coupled with an emphasis of lush landscaping and sleek sun-shading in the form of metal or wood louvres, instead of the modernist glass curtain wall, which admits and traps solar heat. These architectural efforts have taken on a new relevance and urgency due to concerns about global warming, climate change and environmental sustainability, especially given that air conditioning in buildings is one of the largest consumers of electricity in Singapore, which is mostly generated by fossil fuels.

From the late 1990s, like many other global cities and aspiring global cities, the Singapore government consciously launched a drive to develop 'iconic' landmarks in the city, as a means to strengthening the Singapore brand identity as well as to attract foreign tourists, skilled immigrants, investments and buzz. Several such landmark projects have since been developed, sometimes through open or closed architectural design competitions. These include the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay arts centre, the Supreme Court of Singapore, the new National Library, Singapore, the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort and the Singapore Flyer.


Artec Consultants Inc, is an acoustics design and theater planning firm located in New York City. The company was founded by Frederick Russell Johnson in 1970. In 2013, Artec was integrated into the acoustic design and theatre consulting practice Arup.

Artec has done the acoustics design and theatre planning for over 140 projects worldwide including the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Salle Pleyel renovation in Paris, France, the Mariinsky II Opera House Basic Design for Valery Gergiev, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Pikes Peak Center, the Montreal Symphony House, Centre in the Square, Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and acoustical upgrade of the Roy Thomson Hall.The New York firm has been referred to as the field-leader in acoustic design and Time Magazine called their design of the Esplanade complex in Singapore "one of the best anywhere".

CityLink Mall

CityLink Mall (simplified Chinese: 城联广场; traditional Chinese: 城聯廣場; pinyin: Chénglián guǎngchǎng) is Singapore's first underground mall, located within the One Raffles Link development at Marina Square. Opened on 1 July 2000, the 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) underground mall connects City Hall and Esplanade on the Mass Rapid Transit, and to Suntec City Mall, Marina Square, hotels in Marina Centre, Millenia Singapore, Raffles City and to Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Tenants include Sushi Express, KOI Café, DMK, Charles & Keith and Pedro.

Former tenants include Rubi Shoes which was closed in 14 August 2012 and New Look which was closed on 29 February 2016 and was replaced by We&Co.

Dim Sum Dollies

The Dim Sum Dollies is a musical cabaret trio group in Singapore, founded in 2002 by Selena Tan, Emma Yong and Pamela Oei. The Dollies are known for their loud and colourful costumes, spectacular dance scenes and their comical but incisive approach to contemporary social issues in Singapore. Denise Tan is the new member of the group completing the trio after the death of Emma Yong in 2012.

Esplanade, Singapore

The Esplanade is a waterfront location just north of the mouth of the Singapore River in downtown Singapore. It is primarily occupied by the Esplanade Park, and was the venue for one of Singapore's largest congregation of satay outlets until their relocation to Clarke Quay as a result of the construction of a major performance arts venue, the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, which took its name from this location.

Apart from the shows, Singaporeans usually visit the Esplanade for its scenic outdoor view. It overlooks the Singapore river and is in between the Singapore Flyer and Merlion park, making for a good stroll around the vicinity. River ferries stops have been added recently, enhancing its accessibility.

Esplanade Bridge

The Esplanade Bridge is a 261-metre-long (850 ft.) road bridge that spans across the mouth of the Singapore River in Singapore with the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay on its northern abutment and the Merlion on the southern. The 70 metre-wide (230 ft.) low-level concrete arched bridge has seven spans and supports two four-lane carriageways and walkways along both sides.The bridge was built to provide faster vehicular access between Marina Centre and the financial district of Shenton Way and to displace traffic from St Andrew's Road and Connaught Drive. Construction of the bridge began in early 1994 and was completed in March 1997. Service 501 is the first bus route to pass by the Esplanade Bridge. On 10 July 1999, the right turn from Hill Street to Bras Basah Road is prohibited, and motorists had to use High Street and Parliament Place, together with the St Andrew's Road. The main contractor was Obayashi Corporation while the street lamps were designed by Light Cibles. The bridge then blocked views of the Merlion statue from the Marina Bay waterfront, raising a need for the original Merlion statue to be relocated from the back to the front of the bridge.

Esplanade Park

The Esplanade Park (Chinese: 海滨公园) is a historic park located at the Esplanade within the Downtown Core of the Central Area of Singapore.

Evelyn Lim

Dr. Evelyn Lim is the founding dean of the Singapore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. She has been one of the main driving forces behind the renaissance of organ music, both sacred and secular, in Singapore.

She earned her Bachelor's and Master's of Music, summa cum laude, in both Organ and Piano Performance from the University of Houston. Her Doctorate is from the University of Michigan, where she studied with the renowned Dr. Marilyn Mason. She has previously received awards including the American Guild of Organists (Houston) Memorial Prize in Organ Performance, the Power Performing Arts Award (1995) and the Palmer Christian Award.

Besides being the pipe organ master at Singapore's state of the art Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, she also frequently performs both locally and internationally. She also accompanies the Celebration Chorus (an ecumenical community chorus), of which she is a founding member,

She teaches full-time at the Methodist School of Music and part-time at Singapore Bible College.


library@esplanade (Chinese: 滨海艺术中心图书馆) is a public library managed by Singapore's National Library Board. It is located on the third floor of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay at Marina Centre, sited within Singapore's Downtown Core.

library@esplanade is Singapore's first public library for the performing arts (music, dance, theatre and film). It is also one of the few libraries in the world to be located within a performing arts complex, and is the second specialised boutique library in Singapore, after library@orchard.

Marina Promenade, Singapore

Marina Promenade is a park in Singapore that links Kallang Riverside Park in the north to Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay in the south. The entire park is situated on the western bank of the Kallang Basin and Marina Channel, along Republic Avenue and Republic Boulevard. Landmarks along the park include the Merdeka Bridge, the Benjamin Sheares Bridge, the Singapore Flyer and the Helix Bridge.

Marina Promenade extends across two planning areas in the Central Region of Singapore: Kallang and Downtown Core.

Marina Promenade provides excellent scenery of the Singapore skyline, the Singapore Sports Hub as well as the Marina Bay Sands. The park is in close proximity to Promenade MRT Station and Nicoll Highway MRT Station.

Mosaic Music Festival

Mosaic Music Festival was an annual 10-day-long music festival in Singapore that featured both local and overseas acts. From 2005-2014, the festival showcased a variety of music genres, ranging from indie-folk to hip-hop. It aimed to provide a platform for interaction between Singapore and International artists. The performances were held at various venues at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Music of Singapore

Singapore has a diverse music culture that ranges from rock and pop to folk and classical. Its various communities have their own distinct musical traditions: the Chinese people form the largest ethnic group in Singapore, with Malays, Indians, and smaller number of other peoples of different ethnicity as well as Eurasians. The different people with their traditional forms of music, the various modern musical styles, and the fusion of different forms account for the musical diversity in the country.

It has an urban musical scene, and is a centre for pop, rock, punk and other genres in the region. The country has produced in the 1960s bands like The Crescendos and The Quests, right up to the new millennium with pop singers such as Stefanie Sun and JJ Lin. Folk music of Singapore includes the ethnic music traditions of the Chinese, Malay and Tamil communities. Singapore also has a lively Western classical music scene.

Saito Nagasaki

Saito Nagasaki (born 22 July 1981) is the founding member of the Singapore Dark Alternative Movement (SDAM), an alternative, non-profit social collective, and a Singaporean Promoter (entertainment) and Disc Jockey. Nagasaki is associated with Singapore's goth subculture and underground BDSM scene in the media and champions alternative culture in Singapore. Saito Nagasaki is credited with starting Singapore's first Goth club night, "Heart of Darkness" (hosted at Gashaus) as well as the nation's longest-running dedicated alternative music night, "Alternation" (hosted at DXO, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay) which lasted 31 weeks since its launch on 9 August 2007 to the finale on 6 March 2008. Nagasaki is also associated with X'ho, a veteran Singaporean Musician and Radio Disc Jockey who currently anchors the "Lush Night" program on Lush 99.5FM; the two have held several DJ residencies together since the launch of Heart of Darkness on 7 March 2007, with X'ho playing under the moniker "DJ Mentor".

The Big Durian

The Big Durian is a nickname given to more than one place:

Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore, which has two large ovoid buildings that resemble durians

The official nickname of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia

The Big Durian (film)

The Philharmonic Orchestra

The Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO) is an amateur orchestra in Singapore, initiated as a project by Maestro Lim Yau in 1998. The orchestra consists of adults who have a keen and serious interest to perform music. Formerly known as the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra Society (PCOS), the group became The Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO) to better reflect its intention to perform both symphonic and chamber works.

The Philharmonic Orchestra seeks to breathe new life into musical works and explore a repertoire that is very much neglected by big orchestras like SSO. The orchestra held its first concert in May 1998, performing Handel's Fireworks Music, Prokofiev's Classical Symphony and Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter". For the 2007/2008 season, TPO has been engaged by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay to undertake a year-long performance of all Jean Sibelius' Symphonies in a series of three concerts entitled Northern Exposure.

The Philharmonic Orchestra is also known for its commanding standard as a pit orchestra. It has received good reviews for its work as a pit orchestra when engaged by the Singapore Dance Theatre and Singapore Lyric Opera. Since then, it has stopped collaborating with the Singapore Lyric Opera, and focuses more on presenting its own concerts, the latest of which included two Haydn symphonies.

TPO currently does not rehearse at Old School anymore after management disputes between the two parties. In December 2001 and 2003, the orchestra was engaged by the National Arts Council as the accompanying orchestra for the concerto section at the National Music Competition.


W!LD RICE was founded in 2000 by Ivan Heng and is a professional theatre company in Singapore.

Youth Olympic Park

Youth Olympic Park is Singapore's very first art park. It is located at Raffles Avenue, at the junction of Raffles Avenue and Bayfront Bridge.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.