Essay Example on the Spread of Western Classical Architecture (Victoria Hall, Singapore)

Published: 2022-05-06 05:54:47
Essay Example on the Spread of Western Classical Architecture (Victoria Hall, Singapore)
Type of paper:  Term paper
Categories: Architecture
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1955 words
17 min read

Classical architecture is a form of architecture that is mainly associated with Greek and Roman origins. Classical architecture originated in Rome and Greece between the 3rd and 5th century BC. These styles are primarily identified through the use of columns and beams. These styles have been used across the world. Colonization and missionary work are the two main ways through which western classical architecture has been spread out to other parts of the world. The most ancient records of classical architecture were seen in Greece; the Greek began the use of columns and beams as an essential part of buildings in the 3rd century. In Greece, these designs were initially used for religious buildings such as temples. In the late 5th century BC the architectural designs were mainly used in secular buildings. Theatres were very common at the time in Greece, and many of them were constructed in the classical architecture.

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The spread of western classical architecture began with the influence of Greek architecture on the Romans. The Romans added an aesthetic feel to Greek architecture. The most illustrative example of the influence is through the adoption of the three orders. These orders were the Doric, the Corinthian, and the Ionic orders. Some of the most common buildings that point to this influence are basilicas. The remains of the Basilica at Pompeii are an illustration of the Greek influence in the construction of Basilicas.

Western classical architecture led to the origin of neoclassical architecture. Neoclassical architecture is a form of architecture that is based on the simplicity of the structures. Geometric forms in neoclassical buildings are simple and purpose oriented. Neoclassical architecture became very popular in the late 1700s and the early 1800s all the way to the middle of the 19th century. Greek and Roman architectural designs greatly influence neoclassical architecture. The use of domes and columns is an example of the influence of classical architecture on neoclassical designs. This paper discusses the spread of western classical architecture while focusing on the Victoria theatre and concert hall in Singapore.

The late 19th century saw a shift in the architectural properties of Asian, African and South American regions. This was due to an increase in external influence. Colonization led to the setting up of buildings in the colonized areas in the western classical style. The colonizers aimed at imposing their ideas on the locals and therefore the colonial structures that were set up were a symbol of the presence of the colonizer. The influence is evident in many buildings across the world.

The Victoria Theatre and concert hall is located at the 9 Empress Place in Singapore, South East Asia. The complex is a popular destination for the performance of arts in Singapore. The building is made up of two twin structures, the Victoria theatre and concert hall. One of the most recognizable features of the building is the magnificent and iconic clock tower. The building was built between 1862 and 1909. It has undergone numerous renovations, one of the biggest renovations having been in 2010 when the building was closed for renovation and reopened in 2014. The complex is managed by The Esplanade Co. Ltd. The complex has been used for several purposes, it hosts meetings, exhibitions and art performances. It was used as a hospital at one point. It is home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Victoria theatre and concert hall started out as a town hall in 1862, it was meant to replace the existing assembly rooms which had become unsuitable to use. The construction of the social hall started in 1855 and was completed in 1862. The town hall was designed by John Bennet who was the municipal engineer at the time. The hall had a theatre which was on the ground floor. The first floor of the hall housed the meeting rooms and municipal council offices. The social hall also initially hosted the library before it was moved in 1876. Increased demand in entertainment as a result of increase in population resulted in the move of the offices from the building.

The first modification to the building came in 1903 through the construction of the Victoria memorial hall. The construction of the memorial hall included the modification of the social hall so that it could blend in with the newly built memorial hall. The memorial hall was meant to honor Queen Victoria. It was built between 1903 and 1905. The initial design for the memorial hall was drawn up by Major Alexander Murray. The design was modified by Regent A.J Bidwell to include a stage and gallery. The memorial hall was among the first building in Singapore to contain electric fans which were essential to the purpose of the building to host many people at the same time.

The clock tower was built in 1906. The clock tower connected the town hall and the Victoria memorial hall into one building. The tower is 54 meters in height and contains a corridor shared by both parts of the building. The timepiece in the tower was donated by the Straits trading company. The clock is four meters wide and its faces face four directions. It is one tonne in weight. The tower has a bell turret at the top and a cupola.

The town hall was changed into a theatre in 1909 by the Swan and Maclaren Company. There was less demand for the meeting rooms and the municipal office spaces since a majority of the offices had already moved to new locations. In 1909, the town hall was converted into a theatre through the change of the interior characteristics of the hall. The external features of the building remained untouched.

The Victoria theatre and concert hall have been used in numerous historical occasions in Singapore. The memorial hall was used as a hospital during the Second World War. The war brought an increase in the demand for health facilities to treat those who were wounded during the war. In 1942, an increase in the Japanese air raids of Singapore meant that the hospitals could no longer take in more patients. The memorial hall was briefly converted into a hospital. After the decline of Singapore in 1942, the theatre was used by the Japanese for traditional Japanese art exhibitions. After the Second World War the memorial hall was used as a makeshift court room. Trials of war related crimes were carried out in the memorial hall. The hall hosted the trials between 1946 and 1947.

Numerous meetings that led up to the gaining of independence of Singapore were held in the Victoria Memorial hall. The Rendell Commission, that came up with the constitution of Singapore in preparation of independence held a majority of its meeting at the memorial hall. Some of the most famous of the meetings are the public meetings that the commission held in 1953 and 1955. The public meetings attracted crowds of people in the hall. historical exhibitions that have been held in the hall include the an exhibition on the design of the civilian war memorial in 1963.Television Singapura, the first television channel in Singapore was launched in the memorial hall in 1963. The Victoria memorial hall was renovated in the 1970's and reopened in 1980 as the Victoria concert hall.

The Victoria theatre and concert hall was built in the neoclassical style of architecture. The building has classical features such as the use of Corinthian columns. The buildings further has triangular pediments which used to have colonial symbols of the British Empire but were changed into Singaporean symbols after the country got independence. The interior and exterior of the building has carved festoons showing flowers, crops and other decorative moldings. Although aspects of the building which symbolized the occupation of the British Empire were scrapped, there are still aspects that remain such as the inscription of the letters V, R and I in the motifs which honor Queen Victoria. The 'V' stands for Victoria, the 'R' for Regina and the 'I' for imperatrix. The building influenced the construction nearby buildings such as the former Supreme Court which was built in the same style. The building has numerous moldings of flowers, fruits and other decorative aspects that surround the building both outside and are replicated in the interior of the building. Aspects such as Corinthian columns are both in the exterior and the interior of the buildings. The government of Singapore developed the renaissance city plan project in 2010. The project was meant to convert Singapore into an arts destination by 2015. At the center of the project was the renovation of the Victoria theatre and concert hall. The renovation of the building was not only meant to make the building more appealing to art lovers, but also to increase the usability of the building.

The Victoria theatre and concert hall was closed between 2010 and 2014 for the renovations. The 180 million dollar renovation was carried out by W. Architects. The renovation brought together various consulting firms such as Architectural Restoration Consultants Pte. Ltd consulted on aspects to do with the restoration of historical features of the building. Arup Singapore Ltd. was tasked with the design of the theatre and the acoustics of the building. Rider Levett Bucknell managed the project and were in charge of quantity survey in the renovation.

The renovation led to the equipping of the building with modern technology. Performance venues such as the theatre were equipped with aspects such as modern lighting and the seats were replaced. Modern air conditioning systems were installed during the renovation. The building was also upgraded to conform to modern day safety standards. Fire prevention measures and other provisions that are stipulated in health and safety policies in Singapore were installed in the building. Entrances of the building were upgraded to accommodate people with disabilities. Ramps were installed in entrances to ease the use of wheelchairs to access the building. Elevators were also put in the building. An electrical substation that supplies power to the building were installed in the subterranean levels of the building. An atrium was installed in the middle of the two parts of the building. The atrium has a glass roof. The atrium is used in the hosting of events.

Aspects of the building that were retained include the facades both in the exterior and the interior of the building. There are numerous aspects of the building that were restored. The most recognizable is a replica of Queen Victoria's crown that sits on top of the clock tower. In the original design of the building there was a crown that was placed on top of the copper dome of the memorial hall. The crown was removed after the independence of Singapore in 1959. The passageway between the concert hall and the theatre was also restored. During the renovations, aspects such as the interior of the theatre were destroyed and reconstructed in modern styles and to suit the new needs of the theatre.

W. architects added new spaces to the building. There was addition of spaces to accommodate commercial activities such as the cafe that was opened after the renovation. There was addition of rental spaces. The new spaces also accommodate changing rooms and utility rooms for performers and audiences in the performance venues. The roof of the theatre was raised. Initially the two parts had differing roof lines with the concert hall being taller that the theatre. The extra room created by the raising of the theatre roof is now used as a dance studio. The renovations led to the reduction of the capacity of the theatre to six hundred from nine hundred. The balcony in the concert hall was raised and reduced in the interest of the acoustic features of the buildings.

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Essay Example on the Spread of Western Classical Architecture (Victoria Hall, Singapore). (2022, May 06). Retrieved from

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