Singapore’s Supreme Court is a major new judicial centre conceived in response to
the city’s rapidly growing population and the limited facilities of the old Supreme
Court building, which it stands alongside. Located within the Colonial District, on
the north bank of the Singapore River, the building takes its cue from the scale of
the neighbouring civic buildings, offering a modern re-interpretation of their colonial
vernacular to convey an image of dignity, transparency and openness.
The building houses twelve civil courts, eight criminal courts and three appeal
courts, together with facilities for the Singapore Academy of Law, and is organised
to reflect the hierarchies of the judicial system. Formally, it is articulated as a series
of blocks, cut through with arcades, designed to knit the building into the city fabric.
The civil courts are located on the lower floors, with the criminal courts above. The
court of appeal, the highest court, is raised symbolically in a disk-like form at the
top of the building – a contemporary iteration of the old courthouse’s dome. Like
the Reichstag’s cupola, it incorporates a viewing platform that offers a dramatic
panorama across the city. The blocks containing the courts are punctuated by a
broad central atrium, which forms the processional circulation route through the
building, and brings daylight down through the public spaces. Flanking the courts
are administrative blocks, which step back at ground level to create a covered
arcade along the street front.
The building is designed for long-term flexibility, including future changes in the
size and configuration of the courtrooms and advances in information technology. It
employs a palette of high-quality materials including glazed stone – a laminate of
glass and stone – which appears solid, but by day allows light to filter through it,
and by night emits a warm glow. Environmentally, it incorporates a range of passive
climate-control devices, including solar shading to the offices, and the roofs are
planted with trees, creating a blanket of greenery that shelters a public promenade.
description by architects