Marina Bay was reclaimed and developed as an extension to the Central Business District in the 1970s. Up till the early 2000s, Marina South was a recreation hotspot. Parents would venture down with their children for a day of kite flying at Marina City Park, or conquer the lanes at the bowling alleys. Amateur football players would converge on the football fields during the weekend to try and recreate skilful movements as seen on the television. As the sun set, families would flock to the many steamboat restaurants in the vicinity to enjoy a hearty dinner after a day of fun. Looking back, the early activities in Marina South were but a precursor to the offerings around Marina Bay today.
Buzzing with energy and diversity, Marina Bay is now a focal point of leisure attractions, luxury hotels and entertainment, and eco-friendly residential and commercial buildings. Marina Bay has undergone major redevelopment, encouraging diverse uses to promote vibrancy around the clock. Sites are zoned “White” to allow flexibility in deciding the most appropriate mix of uses for each site, including housing, offices, shops, hotels, recreation facilities and community spaces. Singapore’s signature skyline has been carefully sculpted to create a unique three-dimensional layered effect. Buildings directly fronting the water body are kept low in order to create a “stepped-up” skyline, and safeguard views to and from individual buildings. Tower locations are orchestrated to create space and breathtaking vistas towards the waterfront and major open spaces.
Countless activities have unfolded against this understated majesty. Formula One’s first night race held at the Marina Bay circuit continues to be a jaw-dropping spectacle year after year. National Day Parades and year-end countdown concerts have attained a crescendo of nationalistic pride at the Float@Marina Bay. Water sports in the heart of the city are also gaining popularity with the annual Marina Regatta, Singapore’s largest water sport event and the highlight of a growing water sport calendar.
Making a splash of a different kind, the serene sparkling waters of the bay belie the herculean effort involved in the sizeable undertaking that is the Marina Barrage. Completed in 2008, and built across the mouth of the Marina Channel, the Barrage marks the fruition of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of damming the mouth of the Marina Channel to create Singapore’s 15th reservoir, in the heart of the city. The Marina catchment is the island’s largest water catchment, forming about one-sixth the size of Singapore.
It is no coincidence that this gleaming tapestry is the centrepiece of the city’s urban transformation and has come to embody Singapore’s development as a global city. If one has to sum up the Marina Bay experience, one would be hard-pressed to name just one. Whether individually experienced, or savoured as a collective whole, the Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Financial Centre, and the Fullerton Hotel among other attractions contribute to the overall Bay experience. Each represents a different facet of the glittering gem that we call home.
Photo Credits: Urban Redevelopment Authority