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Singapore Land Authority
Photograph: Singapore Land Authority

Old Changi Hospital to be turned into a stargazing observatory

Would you visit the Old Changi Hospital if it is remodelled into a stargazing observatory?

Written by
Izza Sofia

What comes to mind when one mentions Old Changi Hospital (OCH)? It’s only natural that a terrifying abandoned building with a dark past comes to mind. 

Earlier this year, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) together with Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) hosted a competition to seek ideas on how OCH can be repurposed. While many interesting suggestions were put forward, the winning idea proposed that the building should be turned into a stargazing observatory.

Aside from its creepy history of housing the Royal Engineers of the British Army and Prisoners of War in WWII, Old Changi Hospital is also known for its low light pollution and high vantage point on top of a hill. With its association with the sky, the creative proposal being named “Ascending to the Sky” emerged as the winner in the open category for repurposing the old hospital. By transforming the building into an observatory, URA hopes this creates a family-friendly learning area to learn about aviation, nature, and stargazing.

The idea was proposed by a team of four  three university students and one from Singapore Polytechnic. Matthew Goh Xinzhi, who is part of the first-place team, said there are few buildings in the area which means it is not brightly lit.

“We turned this weakness into an advantage, complimenting the day experience (of viewing planes) with an evening of astronomy. Darkness now becomes the key function in a renewed didactic experience with the stars,” added the 23-year-old National University of Singapore student.

The repurposed building will be fitted with wide viewing platforms to educate visitors on celestial objects, and an observatory deck for stargazing and related events. According to the judges, this proposal emerged as a winner as it is built on the unique character and tranquillity of Changi Point. They also enjoyed the romantic representations of images and programmes that capture the rustic appeal of the site. The creative concept also had an “intelligent” approach to the topography — involving an underground entry to the complex.

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