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Branding Singapore’s past & present tallest buildings

18 July 2017 8 min read

In the second of three articles on place branding in Southeast Asia, we take a look at how Singapore’s skyline has evolved over the decades and the brands that now adorn its past and present tallest buildings.

With Singapore’s Central Business District transforming at a rapid pace, mixed-use landmark developments are redefining the meaning of place in the city’s downtown commercial core.

From established urban place markers to revitalised and emerging ones, Singapore’s downtown skyline continues to evolve. The brand identities that adorn Singapore’s tallest buildings of the past and the present each signal their own story and demonstrate different approaches to brand design, brand architecture and brand nomenclature for iconic commercial landmarks.

Tanjong Pagar Centre

  • 290 metres above sea level
  • Singapore’s tallest building since 2016
  • 67 floors

An Integrated Vertical City

Tanjong Pagar Centre stands out as Singapore’s tallest building at 290 metres. This mixed-use development integrates office, residential, retail, hospitality and an urban park into a vertical city seamlessly connected with Tanjong Pagar MRT. Designed by SOM, the world-renowned architecture firm with a portfolio of the world’s tallest buildings such as Burj Khalifa in Dubai and One World Trade Center in New York, Tanjong Pagar Centre’s luxury residential component sits atop the offices making these Singapore’s highest homes.


A Mark of Stature

The Tanjong Pagar Centre brand mark signals elevation and stature through the relative height of the symbol positioned above the brand name. It also contains four overlapping rectangles that symbolise the integration of the different mixed-use components. The brand language speaks of exclusivity and prestige, evoking the idea of ‘rarefied air’ in a subtle reference to the height of the development.

Brand Architecture

Unlike One Raffles Place and OUE Downtown, a non-unitary brand architecture spans the landmark. The Tanjong Pagar precinct name is carried across the six-level retail component as the main destination marker, while the hotel brand is Sofitel and The Wallich Residences (with it’s reported S$108m super penthouse) assumes the name of the original location marker, Wallich Street. The office tower takes on the name of the developer and leverages GuocoLand’s flagship mixed-use development in Singapore as a beacon for its corporate brand.

One Raffles Place

  • 280 metres above sea level
  • Singapore’s tallest building for over 30 years
  • 63 floors

The One Business Address

The first building in Singapore to reach the height of 280 metres above sea level (stretching to 282 metres according to OUE) and with over 860,000 sq ft of lettable space, One Raffles Place is the prestigious address at the historic heart of Singapore’s business district. When completed in 1988, this was the tallest building outside of the United States and is still regarded by leading architects to be among the world’s top skyscrapers.

A Commanding Presence
One Raffles Place is a brand that commands presence. Starting with the authoritative ‘one’ in its name, the mark itself draws inspiration from the architecture of the two towers that crown Singapore’s CBD skyline. The original and tallest tower was designed by Japanese Architect Kenzo Tange and was one of his first skyscrapers. Two decades later, the task of complementing this iconic landmark fell to his son, Paul Tange, who took inspiration from his father’s triangular design. The brand mark pays tribute to this poignant father + son partnership by uniting their respective work through the double ‘ff’ in the name ‘Raffles’.

Unitary Brand Architecture
In May 2014 an asset enhancement initiative refreshed the retail experience placing global fashion brands such as H&M within easy reach of office workers in need of retail therapy. Leveraging the definitive destination of the MRT station directly beneath it, the One Raffles Place brand extends across the retail experience. This unitary brand architecture links both retail and office components through a single commercial identity.

OUE Downtown

  • 201 metres above sea level
  • Singapore’s tallest building from 1975 to 1986
  • 50 floors

A Postal Code of its Own

OUE Downtown is the new brand for the former DBS Building at 6 Shenton Way. Similar to One Raffles Place, it has two towers. Tower One was built in 1975 and was at that time the tallest building in Singapore. Tower Two was built in 1994 almost 20 years later. With a net lettable area of 867,000 sq ft, this integrated landmark comprises offices, service residences and retail with a 262-metre street frontage that is set to transform the ‘work, shop, live, play’ world emerging in Singapore’s downtown commercial core.

Uptown Style, Downtown Attitude
The OUE Downtown identity oozes with attitude. The brand mark signals the visual language of an urban grid and reinforces the sense of place and meaning of the name Downtown. It also reflects the rectilinear layout of the mixed-use development. The bold typography, vibrant colour palette and the confident brand language also help to communicate the contemporary personality of this revitalised CBD landmark.

Brand Nomenclature
Unlike One Raffles Place, the OUE Downtown brand architecture carries descriptive suffixes for each of the two towers: OUE Downtown 1 & 2. With what promises to be a more prominent retail offering than One Raffles Place, the brand leverages the existing retail brand in OUE’s Mandarin Gallery to form Downtown Gallery. Adopting the practice of OUE Bayfront, the flagship commercial property in OUE’s portfolio, the OUE Downtown name links the destination with the developer’s corporate brand.

Keep a look out for our final article on place branding across the region where we visit Yangon, a city endowed with Southeast Asia’s largest number of colonial buildings.

Dominic Mason
Managing Director, Southeast Asia
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