Sentosa Cove: “The World’s Most Desirable Address”

Sentosa Cove

Photo by Studio8

That is the unabashed marketing tagline for Sentosa Cove, Singapore’s haute island residence that has in the same vein been touted as the “Monte Carlo of Asia”.

Since the first homes were completed in 2006, Sentosa Cove has become the epitome of living the high life in Singapore. Its very name conjures up images of luxury waterfront bungalows, with private yachts berthed alongside. A tony residential retreat for the wealthy where “Lamborghinis, Porsches and Bentleys fill the driveways of multimillion-dollar villas”, Sentosa Cove is indeed home to Singapore’s well-coiffed and well-heeled.

For those of us old enough to remember the 80s TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, I think it would be apt to say that Sentosa Cove residents are having their “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” fulfilled.

Sentosa Cove

Villa Alba – Photo by Mercurio Design Lab

Incredibly though, barely 10 years ago Sentosa was a very different island.


Sentosa Cove occupies approximately 120 hectares on the eastern end of Sentosa island, just across the harbour from mainland Singapore. It is Singapore’s first and only gated community and is home to the who’s who of Singapore. In fact, as it is the only place in Singapore where non-Singaporeans are allowed to buy landed property to reside in, Sentosa Cove boasts a veritable list of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) from all over the world as residents. Today the over 2000 lavish waterside bungalows and luxury seafront condominium apartments within are home to approximately 6000 residents.

Sentosa CoveNot long ago however Sentosa used to just be Singaporeans’ humble family leisure venue, so the island’s relatively recent dramatic transformation into a resort home and playground for the rich and famous has caught many by surprise. Older generation locals still have fond memories of the island’s family friendly attractions we grew up with in the 70s, including the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, the Fort Siloso war museum, the Musical Fountain with its then “high-tech” laser show, and later on the kitschy Volcano Land theme park with its lifelike volcano eruptions, and of course the Fantasy Island water park with its many water slides.

Sentosa CoveBack then in the 70s and 80s the only way across to the island was by ferry or the overhead cable car ropeway. A causeway, built in 1992, became a huge game changer allowing visitors to simply drive over to the island. Hotels and beach-side restaurants and other amenities soon followed, and Sentosa became a popular “staycation” venue for Singaporeans and even tourists who wanted to kind of get away for a day or two of fun and relaxation.

The transformation of Sentosa into a high-end retreat only began in 2006 however when the first affluent occupants took up residence in Sentosa Cove (although plans for the up-market residential enclave were put in place as early as 1986). A large area on the eastern shore of Sentosa including the small reef island Pulau Buran Darat was reclaimed and redeveloped to form the Sentosa Cove site.

Sentosa CoveOutside of the Sentosa Cove residential area the rest of Sentosa was also undergoing a major revamp. 2010 saw a milestone reinvention of Sentosa with the opening of the glitzy Resorts World Sentosa, a casino resort that also housed the headlining Universal Studios theme park. The old cable car ropeway was also upgraded that same year.

Interestingly, the transformation of Sentosa from mass market leisure resort into a high-end residential and high roller retreat wasn’t the first transformation for the island. Before the island was renamed to Sentosa (which means ‘peace and tranquillity’ in Malay) in 1972 and developed purposefully into a tourist attraction, it was a naval base with the ominous sounding local name of Pulau Blakang Mati – loosely translated as “island after death”, a possible reference to a malaria outbreak on the island in the late 1840s.

An even more curious fact is that Sentosa was used as a detention site for one of the government’s earliest political prisoners – Chia Thye Poh, who was imprisoned on the island from 1989 and was not allowed to leave for the mainland until 1992.

Sentosa CoveWith Sentosa now famed instead for its Sentosa Cove millionaire’s row, the island has certainly come a long way. It is probably more of a “Fantasy Island” now than the water theme park ever was.


Sentosa CoveTo reach Sentosa Cove, drive eastwards once you enter the island along Allanbrooke Road, past the golf courses. Once past the arches of Sentosa Cove you’ll arrive at the dolphin fountain and Sentosa Cove Village, or the Cove Arrival Plaza. Continue left and you’ll see Quayside Isle, a restaurant and shopping plaza fringing the marina’s boardwalk. Up ahead is the W Singapore luxury hotel, and on the other side the ONE°15 Marina Club. While the restaurants in Quayside Isle and the hotel are open to the public, the restaurants and facilities within the marina club are open only to members and their guests.

Sentosa Cove Quayside IsleQuayside Isle is a great waterfront dining venue especially if you want some respite from the city, or if you just want to soak up the glamour of the Sentosa Cove lifestyle. Notable restaurants at Quayside Isle include chef/owner Emmanuel Stroobant’s Saint Pierre offering his acclaimed modern French cuisine; Spanish seafood and tapas grill Sabio by the Sea, as well as the Blue Lotus Chinese restaurant and the Earl of Hindh Indian restaurant that cater to the many Chinese and Indian nationals living on the island. More casual dining options include Brussels Sprouts, known for their Belgian beer and mussels, or Picotin Express bistro or SolePomodoro Trattoria for wood-fired oven pizzas and casual European and Italian fare respectively. Kith cafe too is a great place for a coffee and a light bite, and is usually packed during the day with island residents and non-residents alike.

Sentosa CoveThe residential area in Sentosa Cove is just beyond the public precinct, and is divided into a North Cove and South Cove. Access to the residential areas is limited strictly to residents and their guests however. Since many would not have an opportunity to enter the residential areas (unless you happen to be a realtor with occasional access!), I’ll give you a quick peek.

Sentosa CoveOpposite Quayside Isle you have the Residences at W condominium. Go left and you’ll be in North Cove, where you will cruise by the houses along Ocean Drive and on 3 small artificial islands – Treasure Island, Paradise Island, and Coral Island. Virtually all the houses have yacht berthing facilities. Continue along the sea front road and you will come across the condominiums The Azure, The Berth by the Cove, The Coast @ Sentosa Cove, and The Oceanfront @ Sentosa Cove, all sea-facing with gorgeous views.

If you turn right at the dolphin fountain junction you’ll be in South Cove, where along Cove Drive there are similarly 2 artificial islands – Sandy Island and Pearl Island with more waterfront homes. There is also a development featuring cluster terrace houses called the Green Collection, while condos on South Cove include the Marina Collection, Turquoise, Seascape, the very exclusive Seven Palms Sentosa Cove by luxury developer SC Global Developments, and the newest and tallest condo on Sentosa Cove – Cape Royale.

Sentosa Cove Cashew tree

Cashew tree and fruit

Both the North and South Coves have lovely green park spaces fronting the coastline called “Foreshores”, which are reclaimed coastlines. These beach front areas shored up by a stone embankment feature an automatic irrigation system to keep the well-groomed lawns in tip-top condition. The pleasant open spaces have shady trees (even a fruit-bearing cashew tree), and park benches and wooden gazebos to rest in and enjoy the strong sea breezes. You’ll also be afforded wide open views of the Singapore Strait and the nearby Tanjong Pagar Port with its container ships pulling into and out of the busy port. On Sundays, domestic helpers lucky enough to be employed by families living in Sentosa Cove like to gather at these areas for a bit of R&R themselves.


Eastern part of Sentosa island; just follow the signs.

Sentosa Cove


  • Beleaguered City Harvest church pastor Kong Hee recently put his The Oceanfront @ Sentosa Cove luxury penthouse up for sale for S$10M. The 5,242 sq ft lavishly furnished apartment is served by a private lift and comes with a huge rooftop infinity pool. The church pastor has been involved in a long drawn out court case accusing him and his team of misappropriating church funds to the tune of S$50M.
  • In 2010, the drowning of a Karaoke lounge hostess at one of the bungalows made the headlines. The young lady from China was found floating naked in the mansion’s pool after an apparent pre-dawn swim. The courts ruled the drowning an accident, and the owner, who had paid for the lounge hostess’ companionship for that night, sold the house soon after.
  • Australian mining magnates Gina Reinhart and Nathan Tinkler both own property on Sentosa Cove (at the Seven Palms), as does a Spanish tycoon named Ricardo Portabella Peralta, as well as Indian Telecom billionaire Bhupendra Kumar Modi.
  • Houses in Sentosa Cove are currently up for sale for between S$6.5M for a terraced house to S$50M for a luxurious designer bungalow. You can also rent an apartment at one of the 9 condos from about S$6000 up. Both rents and purchase prices on Sentosa Cove have taken a tumble in recent months however as the property market cools, so renters and buyers can actually pick up some good deals!
  • Sentosa was originally master-planned by the Housing Development Board (HDB) in 1970, however was soon taken over by the Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC), set up in 1972 to develop the island into a tourist destination.
  • A scene from an episode of the popular 1970s American detective show Hawaii Five-O was filmed on the original Sentosa cable car line.

Sentosa CoveTAKE NOTE

  • To access the North or South Cove residential areas you need to be a resident of Sentosa Cove with a resident’s pass, or be visiting a resident (the resident’s details will be noted down) in order to get past the security gates.
  • You can take the free Sentosa Shuttle Bus 3 from stations around the island to Sentosa Cove Village. The bus operates at 35 minute intervals daily from 8am – 10.30pm.


Sentosa Cove

Steve Fisher’s “Fish House”


one-north: Talent Central


Fusionopolis – Solaris (Photo by Albert Lim)

Question: Where would you find the largest concentration of Singapore’s best and brightest?

Answer: Quite possibly at one-north, Singapore’s Research and Development (R&D) mini-city along North Buona Vista Road. Throw a stone and you will more than likely hit one of the thousands of research scientists working in the labs there.

A few years ago when I was working at a company located close to one-north, my colleagues and I would occasionally drive over to have lunch at one of its dining spots. I have to admit that coming from the decidedly low-tech transportation industry, we did feel a wee bit intimidated sharing the same lunch spaces with the Mensa types that populate one-north.


one-north (lower case please) is a state-of-the-art R&D hub cum business park cum education and training centre cum living space. Named for Singapore’s position 1 degree north of the equator, the self-contained mini-city is something of a combination of Silicon Valley and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. Unlike the Valley’s organic nature however, one-north has been meticulously master-planned, as is typical of most things in Singapore.


Fusionopolis – Connexis and Symbiosis

First conceptualized in 1991, the dedicated facility is the lynchpin in the government’s grand and very gung-ho plan to catapult Singapore to the forefront of science and technology, particularly in the burgeoning field of biomedical science. The hub was designed by high-profile architectural consultant Zaha Hadid, and is being developed over a 20 year time span at an estimated cost of S$15 billion. The facilities are located over a 200 hectare (2 km square) site designed to accommodate over 130,000 staffers, working in either public or private organisations focused on research.

During the work week the mini-city hums from thousands of researchers beavering away on all manner of cutting-edge projects. From cancer research to nano-technology computing to visual effects artistry on Hollywood blockbusters, the amount of talent and brain-power concentrated in the area is surely impressive.


Fusionopolis – Sandcrawler

one-north was officially launched in 2001, and the first buildings were completed in 2003. More than 10 years later the all-in-one R&D hub has already made waves in the scientific world, lauded as a success story and laying claim to a number of world-class breakthroughs.

The one-north mini-city is divided into 7 precincts, however its 3 core sections are:

  • Biopolis – biomedical and medicine related research hub
  • Fusionopolis – research hub for technology and engineering (officially termed Info-communications Technology or ICT) and media, and
  • Mediapolis – for all things digital media-related.

Other supporting precincts are Nepal Hill for training and development; Pixel, an education facility, and JTC Launchpad @ one-north, an incubator for start-ups. To ensure work life balance one-north also boasts a host of dining, recreational and entertainment facilities within the core complexes, and in the larger area there are also 2 malls, and housing options such as serviced apartments, condominiums and a hotel. With just about everything available in one-north, I wouldn’t be surprised if the research talent we’ve attracted to our shores never have to leave their labs and one-north at all.


Fusionopolis – Sandcrawler


The buildings in one-north all sport thematic names, which while clever is more than a little confusing, especially for hapless taxi drivers. To help you navigate the area and see how the mini-city has taken shape over the last decade, listed here are the core R&D buildings in one-north:

  1. Biopolis: This is where cutting edge (and sometimes controversial) stem-cell research takes place, along with other ground-breaking biomedical research in infectious diseases, cancer and other ills. Biopolis currently has 13 buildings:
    • Phase 1 (2003): Nanos, Genome, Helios, Chromos, Proteos, Matrix and Centros
    • Phase 2 (2006): Neuros and Immunos
    • Phase 3 (2011): Synapse and Amnios
    • Phase 4 (2014): Proctor and Gamble’s Innovation Centre (P&G SgIC)
    • Phase 5 (2014): Nucleos
  2. Fusionopolis: The buildings in the ICT research hub are:
    • Phase 1 (2008): Connexis (South and North) and Symbiosis
    • Phase 2B (2010): Solaris
    • Phase 3 (2013): Nexus
    • Phase 4 (2014): Walt Disney Lucas Film’s Sandcrawler Building
    • Phase 5 (2014): Galaxis
    • Phase 2A (2014 & 2015): Innovis, Kinesis and Synthesis
  3. Mediapolis: For digital media production and development:
    • (2014): Infinite Studios
    • (2015): MediaCorp

For those of us not working or living in the mini-city, the main reason to visit one-north’s core areas would be for its dining options. The area is home to a number of quality cafes (caffeine = brain fuel) and more than a few decent restaurants. Some interesting ones are:


The Lawn Cafe

  • The Lawn Café (Biopolis Nanos #01-07) attracts the health-conscious crowd with its grilled meat salad bowls
  • Raj Restaurant (Biopolis Centros #01-03) is well-established in Little India, and its outlet here is frequented by the many Indian and British expats working in one-north
  • Long Black Café (Biopolis Centros #01-02) serves connoisseur-grade coffee and café fare, a crowd favourite
  • Infuzi (Biopolis Chromos #01-01) is a more upmarket restaurant offering “fine European” cuisine, good if you want to get away from the crowds
  • Parkway@one-north (Biopolis Chromos #01-02) is probably not affiliated to the famed Parkway Thai restaurant of old, in spite of the similar sounding name. No matter as its modern Thai fare seems to be popular with the lunch time crowd

    Long Black Cafe

  • Bodacious Bar and Bistro (Biopolis P&G SgIC building) is a relative newcomer to the village. Started by the folks of Long Black Café to offer proper meal offerings, it was still pretty quiet when we visited although it seemed like a nice place to kick back in after work
  • WeBread (Biopolis P&G SgIC building #01-02) is an interesting looking quiet little place, serving simple homemade fare
  • Penang Place (Fusionopolis Connexis #B1-20/24) is a large restaurant that gets really crowded. Almost everyone is there for the eat-all-you-want buffet spread of Penang favourites
  • Rong Hua Bak Kut Teh (Fusionopolis Connexis #02-13) for that firm local favourite – pork rib soup


    Bodacious Bar and Bistro

  • Across North Buona Vista Road you also have the charming Rochester Park featuring restaurants set in lovely conserved colonial houses. The restaurants suffer from the secluded location however, and only the Goodwood Park Hotel’s Min Jiang Chinese restaurant and the North Border American Bar and Grill have survived from the original raft of restaurants that opened in 2006.
  • Rochester Park is also home to Singapore’s “best looking Starbucks”, in a 2-storey Black-and-White colonial house next to Rochester Mall. The cafe is popular with students from the nearby learning institutions though so you’ll have to fight them for a much-hogged

Never knew Yoda had claws on his feet

Other attractions: You can visit the Sky Garden on the 21st floor of the Symbiosis building in Fusionopolis. Although there are security gate posts at the entrances of all the offices and lab buildings, you can exchange your identity card for a visitor pass and proceed up to enjoy a vantage view of the southern coast.

Over at Lucasfilms’s gleaming Sandcrawler Building (inspired by the giant fortresses-on-wheels in the Star Wars movies) you can also explore the lovely atrium garden. Find you must try the statue of Yoda, Star Wars’ Grand Master of the Jedi Order.


Off North Buona Vista Road, between Commonwealth Avenue and Ayer Rajah Ave.


You can drive through the area in under 15 minutes if you just want a look-see at the architecturally acclaimed main research buildings. Far better though to stop and have coffee or drinks or a meal within the one-north complexes in the company of uber talents.


  • The Fusionopolis building names were picked from a contest held in 2008 which attracted close to 1600 entries. Winning entries were submitted by engineers, students, a film producer, and even a
  • Indian movie goers may find that some of the buildings in one-north look familiar, as Hindi movie De Dana Dan, which was filmed in Singapore, featured shoots at Fusionopolis.
  • Zaha Hadid also designed the head-turning 1,715 unit d’Leedon condominium along Farrer Road.
  • In 2002 Singapore’s National Science and Technology Board (NSTB) was renamed to the more hip-sounding Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), to highlight the country’s new research emphasis. A*STAR’s many agencies are all housed within Fusionopolis.


    Prof. Jackie Ying

  • An example of the calibre of global talent Singapore has attracted to the biomed industry and working in one-north is Prof. Jackie Ying, Executive Director of the A*STAR’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. Prof. Ying is a 48 year old Taiwanese native and a Princeton University Ph.D. scholar, who interestingly converted to Islam in Singapore.
  • one-north is not without its detractors. While the generous research grants have attracted big name scientists (“whales”), some such as pre-eminent cancer research couple Neal Copeland and Nancy Jenkins have left citing the country’s infamous red tape, as well as disillusionment with the centre’s approach and the pressure to demonstrate commercial results.
  • One of A*STAR’s talents recently made the news for the wrong reasons: Bright young scholar scientist Dr Eng Kai Er, who is employed at A*STAR in virus research, spoke out about having to serve a 6 year bond, never mind that she enjoyed over S$1 million in scholarship monies. She also railed against her work, describing her scientific research as “narcissistic, masturbatory work”. Ouch.
  • In case you’re marvelling at how all the buildings sport so much lovely greenery and think that Singapore is so environmentally conscious, the truth is that government buildings have to incorporate greenery and ecological features according to government guidelines (in keeping with the country’s tagline of “A City in a Garden”), while private developers enjoy hefty incentives to incorporate green features in their buildings.
  • A friend of mind took a cab to Metropolis, an office building on the periphery of one-north. The cabbie could not make out what she meant by “Metropolis”, but understood where she wanted to go to when she pronounced it the local way: Metro-po-lis.



  • Several buildings are still being worked on so parts of one-north are zoned construction areas.
  • If you plan to dine at any of the restaurants/cafes in the core areas do check their opening hours as not all are open throughout the weekend.


Marina Barrage: Alleviates or Worsens Singapore’s Flooding?

A customer service officer kindly gave us an overview of the Marina Barrage while we were browsing the information displays at the visitor centre. When she was done, I gingerly raised the question:

Marina Barrage

Photo from Koh Brothers Group

“Does the Marina Barrage have anything to do with the flooding Singapore’s been experiencing in recent years”?

Without missing a beat the young lady politely answered that they get that question a lot, and “no”, the Marina Barrage is not to blame for our recent flooding woes.

I’m a big fan of Singapore’s national water agency, the PUB for their visionary and genuinely envelope-pushing efforts in managing our country’s water needs (NEWater is ingenious, and I love the audacity of the Lorong Halus Wetland project). One can’t help but wonder though whether the Marina Barrage has somehow contributed to our flood situation.


The Marina Barrage is a “3-in-1 project”: It chiefly dams up the Kallang Basin and estuary forming a freshwater reservoir after a couple of years through natural flushing by rainwater; it acts as a tide control barrier by keeping sea water out; and, it also features as an attractive downtown waterfront park and recreational space. Built at a cost of S$226 million, the Marina Barrage opened to much fanfare in November 2008.

Water from drains and canals flow into 5 main waterways, including the Kallang River and the Singapore River, which in turn feed into the Marina Reservoir. At 10,000 ha (hectares) the Marina Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Singapore, one-sixth of our land size, and serves as an important water catchment in meeting 10% of our current water needs.

Marina Barrage

Importantly the barrage is also the linchpin in a complex flood control system designed to alleviate flooding in low-lying city areas. If we experience heavy rain during a low tide the barrage’s 9 crest gates can simply be opened to release water from the reservoir out to sea. If it rains when the tide is high and sea levels outside are higher than within the reservoir, then 7 powerful drainage pumps can be activated to pump reservoir water into the sea.

Marina Barrage

When the Marina Barrage opened Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) announced that Singapore’s “flood-prone areas will be further reduced to less than 100 ha (1 square km)”. The drainage programme would also be accelerated “to manage unprecedented flash floods and this will further bring down the total flood-prone areas to less than 80 ha”.

This prediction has unfortunately turned out not to be true.

In November 2009, parts of Singapore saw its worst flood in decades after a heavy downpour. This prompted a minister to famously remark that we had experienced intense rainfall of an unprecedented “once in 50 years” magnitude, and the flash flood that resulted was unpreventable. In June 2010 however parts of our grand Orchard Road shopping belt became submerged during a heavy storm, and in the years to follow such intense rain and “freak flooding” in various parts of Singapore became an all too common occurrence. There is a Wikipedia page documenting Singapore’s floods from 2010 onward, and the PUB’s own Twitter account regularly tweets updates about rising water levels and flood alerts now.

Marina Barrage

Sea outside the barrage, with construction work for the MCE in the background

Is it pure coincidence that Singapore is beginning to experience flooding reminiscent of life in the 1960s and 1970s post the Marina Barrage?

Some pundits have posited that the Marina Barrage has actually worsened our flooding situation rather than alleviated it. I also asked the customer service officer what mechanism determines when exactly the flood gates are opened (literally), and she replied that there was no automated system or anything to trigger the release of the reservoir waters, this was all done manually. I wonder then at what water levels in the reservoir do they decide to open the gates, and whether this is a constant level or would they further reduce the reservoir waters ahead of a big storm, in anticipation of the city’s network of drains, canals and rivers flooding quickly? And who makes the decision? For all you know our flooding might well be a result of the barrage operators not being proactive enough, or just being reluctant to release the precious reservoir waters.

Orchard Road Flood - Charine Phang

Orchard Road Flood 2010 – Photo by Charine Phang

Whatever the case, a panel of experts convened to examine the cause of the Great Orchard Road Flood of 2010 concluded that the floods were not caused by the Marina Barrage. An internet search will however interestingly show that elsewhere in other countries barrages or dams have been associated with increased flooding in upstream areas, demonstrating that you can’t always predict through data modelling and technical analysis exactly how water will flow.

What the PUB and other engineers also didn’t count on was Mother Nature switching things up. Blame it on Her for the increasingly heavy rainfall thwarting the barrage’s flood alleviation designs. A UN Panel on climate change recently reported that many tropical countries, Singapore included, can expect more “extreme rainfall”, and consequently flooding in the years to come.

Wellies may well become fashionable in Singapore one day.


Hour-long guided tours of the 3-storey barrage centre are available, and you can book your tour slot online. There are 5 tours a day on weekdays (excluding Tuesdays), and 4 on weekends.

On the morning we visited all the tour slots were full however. As with many places in Singapore, schools frequently conduct field trips to places of interest, and hordes of school kids had descended there that day. Everywhere we went a school tour was in session.

We were offered a free audio guide however (in English although they might have other languages available), which was just as well. There was no shortage of information displays, and together with the commentary that guides you around the centre pointing out things of interest, I don’t really see a need to join the tour.

Marina Barrage

The barrage centre consists of a large courtyard housing several sculptures, as well as a “Water Playground” you can interact with. You get gorgeous views of the Singapore downtown skyline from this open concourse.

Marina Barrage - Pumps

Powerful pumps

The large “Pump House” is on one side, and is glass-walled so you can have a peek at the gigantic pumps. 7 pumps which can each release the equivalent of an Olympic-sized pool of water (2500 cubic metres) in 1 minute are housed there.

The 2nd floor of the centre contains the “Sustainable Singapore Gallery”. Governmental agencies in Singapore seem particularly fond of these “galleries”, which are exhibitions featuring a wall-to-wall deluge of infographics, photos and videos, all lauding the agency’s efforts in moving the country forward. These make for great PR (public relations), and senior management and government leaders do love these self-congratulatory paeans. The gallery unabashedly bills itself as “an information and sensory extravaganza showcasing Singapore’s efforts towards environmental sustainability”.

Sustainable Singapore Gallery - Marina Barrage

Sustainable Singapore Gallery

Well OK the gallery was informational and quite interesting. There are 6 sub-galleries within the gallery, and the highlight is probably Gallery 4 which contains a model of the Marina Barrage, complete with simulated rainfall and the disgorging of the dammed waters.

Marina Barrage

The top most floor of the building houses a “Green Roof”, and this is the most fun area. A broad green expanse also with fabulous views of the Marina downtown, it’s a favourite venue for kite flying. The green roof area also serves as a showcase for the centre’s environmental sustainability efforts.

Marina Barrage

There used to be a few restaurants in the centre however these have all closed.

The pièce de résistance of course is the actual barrage itself. You can take a scenic walk atop the 350m long barrage wall, and also to get a closer look at its 9 crest gates. You’ll notice the water within the reservoir and outside in the sea at different levels. If you’re game you can even walk all the way across the barrage to the lesser known Gardens by the Bay East, also known as Bay East Garden.



8 Marina Gardens Drive, just past Gardens by the Bay.
You can also access the barrage from the other side of the reservoir, via Gardens by the Bay East (Bay East Garden).

Information Counter: 9am – 9pm every day.
Sustainable Singapore Gallery: Open Wednesday to Monday, 9am – 9pm.
The centre and barrage itself are not gated, so you can actually visit any time. You can get great night time shots of the Marina Bay downtown.

Marina Barrage

Eddy from the reservoir waters being released


At least 2 hours to tour the barrage centre and stroll out onto the barrage, and to breeze through the Sustainable Singapore Gallery.


  • Former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew is credited with the idea of damming the mouth of the Marina Channel to form a freshwater reservoir more than 30 years ago.

“In 20 years, it is possible that there could be breakthroughs in technology, both antipollution and filtration. Then we can dam up, or put a barrage at the mouth of the Marina, the neck that joins the sea. And we will have a huge fresh water lake.”
–       Lee Kuan Yew, 1980.

  • The barrage centre building is in the shape of the number “9”, perhaps in a nod to the 9 crest gates on the barrage, and also because “9” is a lucky number in Chinese culture. The design is also meant to resemble a seashell.
Marina Barrage

Photo from PUB

  • Leading research and consultancy firm on environmental issues and utilities, WL Delft Hydraulics (now Deltares), was engaged by the PUB to consult on the Marina Barrage project. Being Dutch, they probably do know a thing or two about flooding and dams and dykes.
  • The 5 km long Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) includes an undersea tunnel which crosses the Marina Channel. At its deepest point the tunnel travels about 20 metres under the seabed. A stretch of the tunnel lies just 150 m away from the Marina Barrage.


  • School field trips usually take place in the mornings. Visit in the afternoon or evening instead.
  • You can walk on the promenade by the water side to reach Satay by the Bay, the food court in Gardens by the Bay selling satay (delicious grilled meats on skewers) on push carts, and other local dishes.
  • To be clear, when we talk about floods in Singapore we are not talking about the catastrophic flooding that occurs elsewhere in Asia, like the devastating Jan 2014 floods in Indonesia or in the Himalayas in India last year. At most we are talking traffic snarls, disrupted schedules and inconveniences here. In fact, when the Orchard Road floods happened the PUB had called it “ponding” (technically correct) and not “flooding”, although this was met with much derision from the public.