How the durian arrived on the bay.

No one planned for the national performing arts centre to resemble the king of fruits.

Back in the 1980s, the winning design proposal for Esplanade was for the centre to be a lantern in the park. The design by DP Architects and Michael Wilford & Partners evolved from a flower-shaped layout, to what was described as "concrete blobs", even bread loaves and marshmallows. Its final iteration eventually put Esplanade on the map.

Image of winning design proposal for Esplanade featuring two lit domes as lanterns in the park.
Image of Rope Access Technicians cleaning the cladding on the roof of Esplanade's structure.

Our thorny domes were the first iconic additions to the then developing Marina Bay district.

Our spikes, which we call cladding, are aluminum sun shades affixed to the double-glazed glass ceilings of our main performance venues. These ingenious spikes are designed to let just enough light in while blocking out the tropical heat.

Each cladding is cleaned by hand by trained Rope Access Technicians equipped with safety lines, working ropes and harnesses. It takes approximately two months to clean both of our spiky shells.

Why we are theatres ON the bay

Built on reclaimed land, Esplanade was named for the nearby Esplanade Park, one of the oldest public parks in Singapore. Older Singaporeans remember the area as a breezy recreational space and the venue of the beloved Satay Club, a legendary cluster of satay stalls.

Beautiful inside and out

Like our unique exterior, our interior and performance spaces were designed in consultation with three advisory groups comprising 74 members, developers, a retail company and government bodies, as well as a panel of seven Asian arts experts. This ensured that we would be able to accommodate the demands of Asian arts performances, particularly those of the traditional arts.

Esplanade's stunning Concert Hall is the master work of the late respected acoustician Russell Johnson of Artec Consultants Inc. Johnson's cutting-edge approach to acoustics resulted in our Concert Hall possessing one of the best acoustics among concert halls around the world. With innovative and refined acoustic features, this world-class performing venue can also be adjusted to suit a wide range of Asian and Western arts performances across genres.

Image of Y columns, the pillars that support Esplanade’s twin domes and Esplanade Forecourt Garden.

Committed to being green

The Y columns are not just pillars that support our domes but they also collect rain water, which we then treat and use to clean our facade and water our plants. By planting more trees in our Forecourt Garden and along our waterfront, we hope to continually offset our carbon footprint.

Changing our fluorescent lamps to LED lights centrewide has saved around 2.63 million kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to electricity consumed by 553 four-room HDB flats in a year. Lights onstage will also be upgraded to LED ones soon.

  • Esplanade was awarded the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award in 2018 as we reduced our monthly energy consumption by about 25%! This was mainly because we replaced three cooler units and five cooling tower systems, which are used to cool the building, to achieve better energy efficiencies.

  • Motion sensors installed for the lights at our basement carpark and some staircases and corridors mean that we do not have to keep the lights on at all times. Skylights at the Forecourt Garden light up parts of our carpark while skylights at our Roof Terrace light up Theatre Street. Our cladding also lets in light during the day while shading the centre from the sun, keeping the interior cool.

  • We work closely with the National Environment Agency (NEA) and our cleaning and maintenance contractors to find greener ways to work. A partnership with one of NEA’s partners has helped us increase our cleaners’ work efficiency by up to 40% by using ozone-rich water to wash our floors. Ozone-rich water contains less chemicals and less residue, so less rinsing is required.

  • At Esplanade Mall, we introduced a three-step waste management system that manages daily waste, and this includes the Rotary Drum waste disposal system, a Food Waste bio-digester that converts food waste to water and a Vertical Baler system for recycled waste such as cartons and paper.

Architect & Interior Designer
DP Architects Pte Ltd (Singapore) / Michael Wilford & Partners (UK)


Project Manager, Civil & Structural Engineering, Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Consultants & Quantity Surveyor
PWD Consultants Pte Ltd (Singapore)


Artec Consultants Inc. (USA)


Theatre Planning & Equipment Consultant
Theatre Projects Consultants (UK)


Main Contractor
Penta-Ocean Construction Co. Ltd (Japan)


Cladding Contractor

Mero Raumstruktur GmbH & Co. (Germany)


Pipe Organ Builder
Johannes Klais GmbH & Co. KG (Germany)

The Next Stage

Discover our newest performance venue, the Singtel Waterfront Theatre, which opens its doors in the second half of 2022.


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Three membership cards depicting each membership tier, Discover, White and Black.

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