Blk 71 will be shifted brick-by-brick to island resort Sentosa. The new structure to come up in its place will have 71 levels to house 7,000 startups
BLk71 @ Ayer Rajah Crescent
Within a month of announcing Block 73 and 79 as two new buildings to come alongside Block 71 to house startups, the government’s best-kept secret is out. Highly placed sources at Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) told e27 that Block 71 will be shifted to island resort Sentosa brick-by-brick and will be converted into a technology museum.
An official, who is not authorised to speak to the media told e27 on condition of anonymity, that instead a 71-storey building will come up at the existing location on Ayer Rajah Crescent. The structure will house close to 7,000 startups.
The current startups in Block 71 will be moved to Block 73 and 79 temporarily by the end of this year, till the time the new structure comes up.
National Heritage Board to manage museum
A 15-hectare land has already been earmarked for Block 71 in Sentosa and will come up on the eastern side of Universal Studio, in the Resorts World Sentosa. Genting Group, the developers of Resorts World Sentosa, along with JTC, the company overseeing the project of developing Block 73 and 79, will be responsible for shifting Block 71. The two companies will in turn seek help from the National Heritage Board (NHB) of Singapore that has experience in preservation and restoration of archaeological objects and places. NHB already runs the National Museum of Singapore, Asian Civilisations Museum, Peranakan Museum, and Singapore Philatelic Museum.
The IDA officer told e27 that since Block 71 has played an important role in the history of Singapore and development of the startup culture in the island-nation, the block cannot be razed down. “There has been resistance in the past too to bring down Block 71. We have a dual challenge here. While we want to preserve the history of Block 71 for sentimental and history archival, we want to make room for more startups. Shifting of the current structure will help us achieve both,” he said.
Autodesk too roped in to help
IDA has also roped in 3D design and engineering software company Autodesk into the project. Autodesk, which lately has ventured into 3D printing too, will come up with a 3D model of the existing structure of Block 71 to understand the mobility and dismantling challenges of the building. “We have been pioneers in 3D design software for entertainment, natural resources, manufacturing, engineering, construction, and civil infrastructure. We will come up with a lego 3D model of Block 71 to understand the challenges in moving the current building. IDA has already shared with us the original architectural blueprints of Block 71, and we are studying them thoroughly,” a senior officer at Autodesk shared.
Autodesk will also be the consultant for the new 71-storey building. “Ayer Rajah Industrial Area is going to be the hub for both, media and startups in the near future. A new MediaCorp building is already coming up in front of our office (opposite Solaris building), and now the restructured Block 71,” the Autodesk officer said.
After shifting the current startups working from Block 71 to Block 73 and 79, NHB will take over to number each and every brick and layer. “It will take NHB approximately six months to mark every brick. Subsequently, JTC will use hi-tech tools to carefully dismantle each brick and pillar,” the IDA officer further said.
The mobilisation and transportation of the entire building will take another six months. Subsequently, Genting Group will overtake the project in Sentosa, which would take another year to reconstruct the building. It should be operational by end of 2016.
Block 71 at Sentosa
‘Blk 71 at Sentosa’, as IDA proposes to name the shifted building, would be converted into a technology museum and will house some of the best technology products innovated, produced, and designed in Singapore. Some of the early hardware and source codes of apps developed in Singapore will be housed in the museum as well.
The entrance to the museum will be designed like a wheel, which the officer said was the greatest ever invention by mankind and is an important tool in mechanics and even discs. “A wheel is a symbol of technology and above all evolution. It does not have corners. Imagine a square CD with corners.”
The officer refused to divulge the cost of the details. He said IDA will officially make the announcement in the coming weeks.
An expensive experiment at tax-payers’ cost?
Some of the startups working from Block 71 have already shown resentment to the “expensive experiment” of IDA.
One serial entrepreneur Don Goh Nao, Developer of anger management app, AngryGoWhere, was critical of the authorities’ decision, “Not again! Are we here to kick-start our businesses or move from one office to another?”
He thought that the government’s experiment at the cost of the tax-payers’ money cannot be allowed to go on. He will be putting up an online petition soon for startups to prevent this “expensive experiment”.
However, the IDA officer justified the cost. “Imagine the revenue the government and tourism board will earn from the museum — making the museum a tourist destination,” he said.
He, however, refused to reveal if the government had done the mathematics well.
There were others though, who were all praise for the idea. “We should all be embracing forward thinking. If the government says that it is the right thing to do, obviously it is the right thing to do,” said Star Tingkap, Founder of TableTop, a startup focused on bringing e-commerce to wearable technology. She added, “The museum will be a great place to relive our startup days and showcase to our children the heritage we left behind.”
e27 managed to get the 3D design of the new ‘Blk 71 at Sentosa’ from Autodesk. To see the design and the video Click here.
What do you think of IDA’s idea? Leave your comments below.
With inputs from Elaine Huang
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