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HomeEvent VenuesThe Great Room launches its first heritage shophouse, transforming the century-old Eu Yan Sang Building

The Great Room launches its first heritage shophouse, transforming the century-old Eu Yan Sang Building

Spanning four floors and 22,000 square feet, The Great Room, South Bridge reimagines the former Eu Yan Sang shophouse as a new location to build a community around the future of work.

SINGAPORE — Premium hospitality-led coworking space, The Great Room, has expanded with its sixth location in Singapore at 269 South Bridge Road, occupying the 22,000-square foot 1910 conservation property which was once the medicine hall for Singapore heritage brand Eu Yan Sang.

The building was first designed by Alfred Bidwell of Swan & Maclaren, who was also responsible for the design of Raffles Hotel and Victoria Memorial Hall. With its column-free design and high ceilings, the layout offered the design team a blank canvas to carve out niche spaces that cater to the ever-changing needs of today’s workforce. Flexible hybrid workspaces, the demand for which was increased by the global pandemic, were a core design focus crafting dynamic spaces that allow for hybrid work arrangements, community-building programmes and events.

The century-old building holds a BCA Green Mark Platinum status, an accolade reserved for exemplary green projects that demonstrate energy and water savings while adopting environmentally sustainable practices and innovative green features. Led by Tamagin Blake-Smith, Design & Strategy Director of The Great Room, the design team approached the restoration with a desire to transform a shared economy space. The goal was to do as little as possible with the building to ensure that the design and construction was truly sustainable.

To achieve this, The Great Room design team and local design agency, Kulor Group, worked to retain existing fixtures and fittings into the new design, observing the careful restoration processes used for the building itself. By retaining a majority of the MEP systems and repurposing the existing older window frames and screens, the unique features of the building were preserved. The designers also worked with local suppliers to source for furniture, tiles, fabrics and art in order to limit the carbon footprint of the materials and fixtures used.

“There is a temptation to do everything when trying to incorporate sustainable features and strategies into a new design,” said Blake-Smith. “We wanted to avoid that and instead rely on the bones of the original building to craft a genuinely sustainable, creative space that encourages collaboration and community. Working with local partners and suppliers was extremely important for us, as was highlighting the rich history of the building and the surrounding neighbourhood in an elegant way, through intentional and meaningful activations”.

The Great Room, South Beach gives a new lease of life to a storied heritage building in one of Singapore’s most celebrated cultural enclaves, offering an exciting new space to reignite passion and purpose for connections old and new within the current hybrid work experience.

The Great Room, South Bridge boasts 11 dedicated offices that can host between five to 70 members, one work hall, and four meeting rooms for two to 12 guests. The location will feature a rooftop alfresco restaurant and bar from April 2023. Serving as a modern-day hub for coffee meetings and power lunches in the day, it will remain open in the evening to the public, further extending the group’s message of “It’s all work, it’s all play,” and establishing a third-place for members to flexibly and comfortably connect.

“After the pandemic, we noticed a shift in how the global workforce has adopted approaches for flexible work and the use of flexible spaces. The Great Room, South Bridge is designed with the trove of knowledge we’ve gained about how the perception of work has changed over the course of the global pandemic, offering great flexibility to our members to suit their growing business needs.” said Jaelle Ang, Co-founder and CEO of The Great Room. “This very special heritage location is another chapter in our commitment to shaping the future of work whilst highlighting the importance of culture and conservation.”

“The pandemic has accelerated the shift to flexible work and the use of flexible spaces. The Great Room is committed to enabling this flexibility for our members, focused on creating communities within out spaces, and driving sustainable growth for our business,” said Jaelle Ang, Co-founder and CEO of The Great Room. “Our new venue at South Bridge is another chapter in our commitment to shaping the future of work while creating new vibrant spaces through adaptive reuse of conservation buildings important to Singapore’s architectural heritage.”

A Storied Past, A Sustainable Future

The hospitality-led co-working space appeals to creatives who can take inspiration from the rich history of the shophouse while enjoying the flexible design and dedicated office spaces for inspired work. Blake-Smith and the design team have crafted the new space with much sensitivity, merging heritage and modern, updating historic design features and commissioning projects from local artists, all whilst
maintaining the group’s strong commitment to sustainability.

Once a Chinese Medicine Hall, the space reflects the building’s rich history in nuanced ways. A dark palette of blues and browns is the perfect backdrop for various local artists to showcase their creative interpretations of Chinatown’s rich history.

The main hall that greets members and guests features a 5 foot way using black and white tiles. The first hint of the building’s history is seen behind the concierge counter and resource alcove: concealing the storage space are apothecary drawers, reminiscent of those found in traditional medicine halls. Hand crafted blue and white ceramics sit proudly on the display unit that separates the main hall and common

Vermillion and the design team collaborated to include vintage historical items such as a custom chess board, abacus-inspired wooden chair and traditional woven baskets. Within the common space on the first floor is a large historical map of central Singapore that blends the old and new within the space.

On the back feature wall sits a full height mural that creatively represents the shophouse and the surrounding area. Untied to any one time period, the mural blends past and present, a narration of the storied history of South Bridge Road and Ann Siang Hill. Reminiscent of the shop signs commonly seen along Chinatown, office units and meeting rooms are marked by banners that hang on the doors.

Boasting its own public lift lobby accessible to the public, the fourth floor allows members and guests alike to immerse themselves in the century-old building houses the restaurant and bar. Within the elevators, urban sketches help narrate the history of Chinatown as well. The fourth floor foyer walls feature a gallery wall displaying framed black and white archival images and historic materials. Within the restaurant and bar, breeze blocks act as partition screens while whimsical lamps shaped like bird cages adorn the walls. Featuring colonial-inspired black and white tones, rattan finishes and reclaimed pots, the restaurant and bar evokes a palpable tropical atmosphere both indoors as well as on the expansive alfresco deck offering a bird’s eye view of Chinatown.

Doubling as an event venue, The Drawing Room is ideal for smaller corporate events and meetings, while the outdoor alfresco space accommodates larger crowds, making it suitable for a variety of unique events and gatherings.

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Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.