Bugis is a subzone of the Downtown Core planning area. Its name is derived from the Buginese or Bugis people. These skilled seafarers from South Sulawesi, a province in Indonesia, were reputed to have sailed up to the area to trade with local merchants before the British arrived on the island. It is surrounded by Rochor on its north-western boundary, Kampong Glam, and Kallang to its north and City Hall to its south and west.
The area is synonymous in most people’s minds with Bugis Street, as it was through that, that the area came into prominence. In the post-war period, hawker stalls and outside bars began to set up along the street, and by the 1950s it had become a popular place to hang out. It also started to attract the island’s community of transvestites, who made it their go-to place to meet. In turn, their presence – in increasingly large numbers and flamboyant attire – started to attract hordes of Western tourists, drawn by the glitz and the glamour, not to mention the alcohol and local food. As a result, Bugis became the tourist destination in Singapore, with nightly parades and impromptu, risqué rooftop shows and performances.
However, the government became increasingly concerned that the activities in Bugis were tarnishing its hard-fought-for reputation, and as part of major development work, the street itself was torn up and replaced by shopping malls. Today, Bugis is a bustling place, particularly at weekends, but the visitors are almost entirely locals.
Bugis has many things, but surprisingly lacks residential properties in its locality. In fact, there are no HDB flats or landed properties in the entire area. Thus to make up for that, two impressively big and newly built developments came about; the latter being in Cityhall but still close enough to Bugis, that it warrants a mention.
Duo Residences and Parkview. Credit EdgeProp: Singapore
Duo Residences is a mixed development by M+S Pte Ltd located at 1 Fraser Street. It is across the road from one of the more distinctive buildings in Singapore – Parkview Square. Faced with such competition for attention, the highly respected architect Ole Scheeren of Duo Residences could have gone two ways: To wave the white flag and submit to the art deco splendour of Parkview, or complement it. He went for the latter and achieved it incredibly successfully. Duo Residences is part of a complex made up of two separate towers, whose curves and angles seem to defy gravity. They are joined by a low-rise podium level with approximately 56,000 sq ft of retail and F&B space.
The residential tower of Duo Residences. Credit: EdgeProp Singapore
The smaller of the two towers comprises 39 storeys and has Grade-A office space and also a five-star hotel. The other tower, the eastern one, rises to 49 floors and is where the 660 luxury residential units are to be found. The development was completed in 2017 and offers residents the choice of studio apartments, one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units, and six penthouses. There is direct, underground access from the development to Bugis MRT Station on the Downtown and East-West Lines. With a host of facilities and such easy access; Duo Residences lives up to its mark of being the place to live for urban living.
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Duo Residences. Credit: EdgeProp Singapore
The other residential development in Bugis is also a mixed use one. South Beach Residences on Beach Road is another stunningly designed building. Located at the city end of Beach Road, it achieved TOP in 2016. It houses a 5-star hotel and 500,000 sq ft of Grade A office space, but the uppermost 23-storeys of the South Tower’s 45 floors are dedicated to 190 luxury residential units. Options range from two, three and four-bedroom units, up to three, four and five-bedroom penthouses. It is connected via underground walkway to Suntec City, as well as to both Esplanade and City Hall MRT Stations. Yet another quintessential example of urban living within the Bugis District.
South Beach Residences on Beach Road. Credit: EdgeProp Singapore
Last but not least, to add this list would be Guoco Midtown which is expected to complete in 2022. This mixed development contains two high-rise towers – the 30-storey Grade-A column-free office tower and 32-storey residential tower called Midtown Bay, that will house more than 200 units. Keeping in line with its idea of revamping the entire area into a vibrant work-live-play district; it has created F&B and retail clusters on the first floor, office spaces on the upper two floors and exclusive garden spaces for its residents.
The $2.4 billion Guoco Midtown will have a mix of Grade-A office space, retail and F&B, public space and residences (Picture Credit: GuocoLand)
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