Teak at the National Gallery Singapore

National Gallery Singapore/ Photo Credit: Beton Brut

Located in the heart of Singapore’s civic centre, alongside the open space Padang, is the city’s latest iconic building which opened in November 2015. Taking 10 years since its conception by the government, the old Supreme Court and former City Hall have been linked together for the National Gallery Singapore, a magnificent new art gallery preserving the heritage of the buildings, while presenting art in a most contemporary way. It is said to offer the world’s largest public collection of Singapore and Southeast Asian art, consisting over 8,000 works aiming to provide an understanding and appreciation of art and culture through a variety of media. Numerous individual galleries and hospitality facilities offer visitors a comprehensive experience in a unique historical venue, reportedly costing S$532 million (US$370 million) in its development.

The architect conceived the three main materials – wood, stone and powder-coated steel columns and windows – to act as the signature, binding the two buildings together in a cohesive way.  New wood and refurbished flooring, panels and furniture predominantly in Teak have been combined with a lightness of touch that is in itself a signature of the care in design that marks the five year period of planning before work commenced. The result is a tribute to the architectural skill which has produced another fine heritage building in modern use, in which wood plays a pivotal role.   

The Gallery has a combined floor area of 64,000m2 (690,000 sq ft) extensively in Burmese Teakwood, Yellow Balau and some in marble. The sole supplier and installer of the Teak, covering 209,896 sq ft (19,500m2), was Singapore-based Wood & Wood. Verification of the purchase of timber that has “come from forest sources harvested by the Myanma Timber Enterprise” was facilitated by Double Helix.

Over 95% of the Teak material is new and milled to 11mm thickness, fixed to 9mm Malaysian moisture resistant (MR) plywood laid directly on concrete – with nails and adhesive. The finish is three applications of ‘WearMax’ water-based coating on site.  About 5% of the area was refurbished with old 15mm Teak. Wood & Wood also installed Teak in the Aura Italian Restaurant and Yellow Balau at the Smoke & Mirrors indoor lounge and outdoor terrace. Managing director Gary Koh says, “the ‘pièce de resistance’ is the 1,500 sq ft rotunda library floor in herringbone Teak with borders in a highly complex design.”

Acknowledgement:  This article was written with the contribution of Yann Follain, Managing Director of WY-TO, Exhibition Designer of the Permanent Galleries with Gallagher & Associates Asia. Yann Follain was also formerly Project Coordinator and Team Leader with studioMilou Singapore and retained by the Windows Contractors.

This article first appeared in PFMENA Issue 1