Portland to build on its approved Cathay plans

Rodney Fitch at Portland Design has had first concepts approved for branding, interiors and wayfinding at Singapore’s ‘prestigious’ 2.3ha Cathay Building this week.

The mixed-use building, which incorporates retail, entertainment and accommodation facilities, has been created by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and opens to the public in late 2005.

According to Portland Design creative director Rodney Fitch, the group is responsible for interiors across the entire space, which includes an eight-screen multiplex, food and beverage areas and large public spaces. It will also create an exhibition on Chinese cinema at the small museum on the site.

The group’s challenge is to ‘create a unique shopping centre in a city renowned for shopping’, says Fitch.

The building is based at one of the most ‘revered’ sites in Singapore, and the area has a strong cinematic heritage, he adds. It was originally the headquarters of the Cathay family, who were instrumental in creating the country’s cinema and film industry in the 1920s and 1930s.

The group’s concepts build on the site’s historic provenance, says Fitch. ‘It will be a nod to the past and the nostalgia of its cinematic [history] and also the family’s relationship with the site.’

The facia of the site’s original 1930s cinema has been preserved and will be incorporated into the design and a traditional Chinese restaurant will also be ‘rediscovered using its original artefacts like fabrics and crockery’, says Fitch.

The site is located next door to the country’s newest university, the postgraduate Singapore Management University, which Fitch describes as ‘the Harvard of Singapore’.

‘Interiors are demographically pointed towards the well-heeled, intelligent customer base that the university provides,’ he says.

The group was appointed in August, following a credentials pitch against Japanese, American and local groups.

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