Freemasons' Hall

Juxtaposition of the new and the old

Built in 1879, Freemasons’ Hall on Coleman Street has been the meeting place for Freemasons in Singapore for over 120 years. Over the years, the headquarters had undergone several expansions in tandem with the growth of its membership and community, adding layers of history to the development. Refurbishing the existing structure, the aesthetic intention was not to impose a modern architectural intervention, but rather, to recreate and reveal imprints of the pasts by using contemporary architecture as a contrast to heighten the historical elements. In this way, the new building envelope remains highly contextual.

23A Coleman St, Singapore 179806
Category Civic & Cultural | Conservation & Heritage
Year 2012
Size 2,600sqm
The reconstruction of the conserved building took cues from the original fabric. The important historical elements on the façade were retained to display the building’s rich and varied history. This gives a sense of continuity and permanence in built form, while the building is programmatically refreshed to ensure that it remains relevant.

The historic building was expanded further to include offices, a kitchen, and function and meeting rooms in a three-storey rear extension.

To ensure the preserved building remains the focus, the new structure was designed as a secondary backdrop and wrapped in tinted glass. A radical departure from the heavy shell of the original structure, it is light and transparent. An open-air void between the old and the new structure continues from the courtyard to the top of the building, bringing daylight into the courtyard. The transitional space creates an exceptional moment in the complex, celebrating the imprints of different periods, and at the same time draws attention to the juxtaposition of the new and old structures.

Other than the literal juxtaposition of the new and old structures, the retained elements on the façade such as concealed mouldings, columns and capitols, circular and semi-circular windows tell the story of the community’s growth.

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