MICA Building

Singapore, Singapore | C.1934

Photo Credit: Yafiq Yusman

Pictured are just the red and orange shutters and doors of the MICA Building, formerly the Old Hill Street Police Station in Singapore’s Downtown Core. Take a step back to see a rainbow of colors stretch across this national monument.

Before MICA fell under the ownership of the Ministries of Communications and Information, of Culture, Community and Youth, the building had a grey facade, and was Singapore’s first jail. But to to deal with increasing Chinese secret society activities, the building converted to housing for the police in 1934.

Designed by Frank Dorrington Ward, an extensive waiting list of policemen hoped to make use of the building’s amenities. A lift could take residents to the second floor where a canteen offered free curry and tea, as well as a barber shop. 927 large windows and an open courtyard ensured each resident received ample natural light and air.

Despite these impressive accommodations, the last policemen moved out by 1981. Office spaces took over the Station until 1997, when an $82 million restoration project launched to put two government municipalities in the building. Debates ensued as to how the building would transform to meet the new tenants’ needs, while many past residents worried about preserving the building’s classic charm.

Fortunately for all involved, much of the Station’s traditional infrastructure was kept intact. The open courtyard converted to an exhibition space, and new glass, steel, and granite have been carefully built around the existing structure to retain its familiar features.

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