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Eddie Cheng

City Hall & Old Supreme Court (政府大厦 / 最高法院大厦) #01

*best viewed against a dark background; kindly click on the image*

City Hall & Old Supreme Court, Singapore.

* given another chance, I would go for a slight underexposure ... unfortunately, I don't know if the external facades would be restored in 2015 *

City Hall

City Hall has been the stage for many of the historic events associated with Singapore's nationhood. It was here that the British accepted the surrender of the Japanese on 12 September 1945, formally ending the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (Feb 1942-Aug 1945). It was also here that Lee Kuan Yew, as Prime Minister, proclaimed self-government for Singapore on 5 June 1959 and merger with Malaysia on 16 September 1963. After Separation from Malaysia, the first fully-independent Singapore Government was sworn in at City Hall on 9 August 1965.

Designed by F D Meadows, City Hall was completed in 1929 as the office for the Municipal Council. The Council was established in 1856 to manage the services of the town. The building was renamed City Hall in 1951 when Singapore acquired city status. The Council was dissolved in 1963 and its functions allocated to other Government departments.

This building was home to the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the former Ministry of Culture and was occupied by the Supreme Court, the Singapore Academy of Law, the Public Service Commission and the Industrial Arbitration Court. By 2012, the building together with the former Supreme Court Building will be converted to a museum to house Singapore's national art collection.

Old Supreme Court

The Supreme Court was the last of the great classical pre-war colonial buildings. It was built between 1937 and 1939 on the site of the former Grand Hotel de L'Europe. The Chief Architect of the Public Works Department, Frank Dorrington Ward, came up with no fewer than eight variations on the design of the old Supreme Court building. This building was Ward's last and greatest work, and was acknowledged by many as his most significant creation. The old Supreme Court building was declared open by Sir Thomas Shenton Whitelegge Thomas, Governor of the Straits Settlements, and handed over to the then Chief Justice, Sir Percy McElwaine, on 3 August 1939.

The imposing Corinthian and Ionic columns, as well as the tympanum sculpture fronting the Supreme Court Building, were the work of Cavalieri Rudolfo Nolli, a Milanese sculptor. The building's colossal Corinthian columns echo neighbouring City Hall while the dome is a miniature version of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Another point of interest for visitors is that the old Supreme Court building actually features two domes: the main copper-coloured dome which dominates Singapore's skyline, and a smaller dome which is hardly visible at street level, but which originally used to house a beautifully designed library.

The old Supreme Court Building was originally constructed to house just four courts. Due to an increasing workload, additional courtrooms were constructed in the adjacent City Hall in November 1986. The building was used by the Supreme Court continuously for 65 years until it moved to the New Supreme Court located along North Bridge Road in 2005.

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