The shortlist for The Structural Awards 2015 was published in August, celebrating outstanding structural engineering projects from around the world. The winners will be announced during an Awards ceremony in London on 13 November.

Tan Guan, from T.Y. Lin International, has been a structural engineer for over 40 years. Here he talks about his work on the “Restoration of Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall” project, which is shortlisted in the Awards “Structural Heritage” category.

At just 50 years old, Singapore has developed at a very fast pace, and while it is very much at the forefront of modern construction practice it’s important we preserve our multi-cultural past, so that future generations can appreciate our rich architectural and engineering history.

The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall was constructed in 1862 to a design by John Bennet. It’s Singapore’s oldest arts venue, and was designated a National Monument in 1992. It has a long, distinguished past, hosting the first performance of Singapore’s national anthem, Majulah Singapura, in 1958. It has a special place in the hearts of all Singaporeans.

I’m an admirer of Bennet – the fact that his 150 year old design is still sound today is a testament to the quality of his work. It was exciting to breathe new life into his original design, much of which had been hidden away during older renovation projects.

A feature wall in the Theatre made out of old seat backs.

The project required the preservation and restoration of the fragile heritage facade while also modernising the complex, which created a number of structural challenges: We had to reinforce and strengthen the Theatre’s footings and foundations, to create two new underground basements; replace the Concert Hall’s timber floor with a concrete surface, to achieve the acoustic requirements of a 21st century performing arts venue; and we had to remove non-original columns from the foyer to create an open, welcoming space. Throughout the project we strived to have as sustainable approach as possible – that is to minimise energy consumption during the construction process and in our design.
The Singapore Symphony Orchestra helped mark the completion of the work with a special concert, which was followed by an Open House event for members of the public, featuring guided tours and a host of free performances by some of Singapore’s local arts groups. This proved very popular, with almost all of the performances oversubscribed.

I’m pleased to say that Singaporeans have welcomed the restoration of the complex, delighted to see its future secured as a valued part of Singapore’s heritage and a sustainable, state-of-the-art performing arts facility.

Visit The Structural Awards 2015 website to find out about our other shortlisted entries, and to buy your tickets.

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