The Fullerton Hotel Singapore

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Coordinates: 1°17′10″N 103°51′10″E / 1.28611°N 103.85278°E / 1.28611; 103.85278

The Fullerton Hotel Singapore
2016 Singapur, Downtown Core, Hotel Fullerton (01).jpg
General information
Location Downtown Core, Singapore
Coordinates 1°17′10″N 103°51′10″E / 1.28611°N 103.85278°E / 1.28611; 103.85278
Opening 2001
Owner Sino Land
Management Sino Land
Technical details
Floor count 9 (including 1 basement)
Design and construction
Architect Keys & Dowdeswell
Developer Far East Organization
Sino Land Company Limited
Other information
Number of rooms 400
Parking 350

The Fullerton Hotel Singapore is a five-star luxury hotel located near the mouth of the Singapore River, in the Downtown Core of Central Area, Singapore. It was originally known as The Fullerton Building, and also as the General Post Office Building.[1][2] The address is 1 Fullerton Square.


Fullerton Building[edit]

The Fullerton Building was named after Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the Straits Settlements (1826–1829).[3] Commissioned in 1924 as part of the British colony's centennial celebrations, the building was designed as an office building by Major P.H. Keys of Keys & Dowdeswell, a Shanghai firm of architects, which won the project through an architectural design competition.[4][5][6][7][8] The architectural firm also designed the Capitol Theatre and the Singapore General Hospital.[9]

Fort Fullerton and the Singapore Stone[edit]

The northern end of the building covers the site of Fort Fullerton, a fort built in 1829 to defend the settlement against any naval attacks. In 1843, the fort was extended after a sandstone monolith, the Singapore Stone, with an inscription possibly dating back to the 13th century was demolished. A fragment of this monolith was salvaged and preserved in the collection of the National Museum at Stamford Road.[10] The fort gave way to the first General Post Office and the Exchange Building in 1874.[5] Plans to erect Fullerton Building were drawn up in 1920. However, due to a lack of funds, construction only began in February 1924.[3][11] Built at a cost of $4.1 million and after delays of a few months, the building was completed in June 1928.[2]

The Fullerton Building was opened on 27 June 1928 by the Governor, Sir Hugh Clifford, who suggested the building be named after Robert Fullerton.[2] The building had five founding tenants: the General Post Office, The Exchange, Singapore Club (now Singapore Town Club), the Marine Department, and the Import and Export Department (later the Ministry of Trade and Industry).[12] It also housed the Chamber of Commerce, and various government departments dealing with agriculture, fisheries and forestry.[11]

General Post Office[edit]

The General Post Office (GPO) was the anchor tenant, which only moved in a fortnight after the Fullerton Building's official opening. GPO covered the two lower floors with postal halls, offices and sorting rooms. There were mail drops through which mail would fall to a band conveyor on the basement and dispatched up to the sorting room. The basement was connected to a 35-metre subway that ran underneath Fullerton Road to a pier, where overseas mail would be transferred to or picked up from ships.[2][3]

Singapore Club[edit]

The Fullerton Hotel Singapore as seen from across the Esplanade Bridge at sunset.
The Fullerton Hotel Singapore at Night.
Fullerton Hotel at dusk. In front is the Cavenagh Bridge

The exclusive Singapore Club rented premises on the upper floors of the building to provide for their members' need and comfort. There were rooms where members dined, lounged, conferred, and played billiards and cards. Bedrooms on the attic storey provide accommodaton for members. When the Economic Development Board (EDB) was formed in 1961, it evicted the Singapore Club from the Fullerton Building. Subsequently, the Singapore Club relocated to Clifford House at Collyer Quay and then to Straits Trading Building on Battery Road near Boat Quay, vacating Fullerton Building for use by EDB and more government offices.[13][14]

World War II[edit]

In the last days before Britain's surrender to Japan in 1942, the building was used as a hospital, with makeshift operation rooms for wounded British soldiers.[15] During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, Governor Sir Shenton Thomas and Lady Thomas sought refuge in the sleeping quarters of the Singapore Club.[14] The Fullerton Building was also where General Percival discussed with Sir Shenton the possibility of surrendering Singapore to the Japanese.[3] Subsequently, Fullerton Building became the headquarters of the Japanese military administration in Singapore.[2]

Post-war years[edit]

From the 1970s to 1995, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore used the building as its headquarters. The General Post Office, under Singapore Post, vacated the building in March 1996. Internal alterations were carried out on the building by the Public Works Department in 1985.[2][7] Though plans were initiated to conserve the Fullerton Building after that, it was only gazetted as a conservation building by the Singapore Government in 1997.[6][15]


In 1997, Sino Land (Hong Kong) Company Ltd, a sister company of Far East Organization, acquired the Fullerton Building from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). It spent close to another S$300 million converting Fullerton Building into a hotel and building the two-storey commercial complex One Fullerton opposite Fullerton Road. Renovation works on the Fullerton Building were completed on 8 December 2000. The Fullerton Hotel Singapore was officially opened by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong on 1 January 2001.[16][17]

The site, sandwiched between the Civic District and the central business district, was sold together with an underpass and the seafront site on which One Fullerton now stands for S$110 million. The two are linked by an air-conditioned underground pedestrian walkway with travellators.[8] To ensure that the historical Fullerton Building continues to be visible from Marina Bay, URA specified a low building height for One Fullerton across the road. This also ensured that guests at The Fullerton Hotel would have unobstructed views of the sea.[17]

Architecture and conservation[edit]

Original design[edit]

Atrium of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

The grey Aberdeen granite Fullerton Building sits on 41,100 square metres (442,400 square feet) of land. The height of its walls measures 36.6 metres (120 ft) from the ground. The building has Neo-classical architectural features which include fluted Doric colonnades on their heavy base, and the lofty portico over the main entrance with trophy designs and the Royal Coat of Arms, crafted by Italian Cavaliere Rudolfo Nolli. Originally, there were five distinct frontages, each treated in the Doric order. 14 elevators served the four floors plus the basement floors.[2] A hollow cellular raft foundation was proposed by the original contractors in the 1920s to save cost because bedrock lies directly below the building.[5]


The Fullerton Building restoration project from 1998 to 2000 was one of the few conservation projects in the world involving an institutional building.[11] Architects 61, together with DP Consultants, was engaged to convert it into a 400-room luxury hotel.[6] The hotel rooms were designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates.[9][16]

During its redevelopment, the historical building had most of its special architectural features retained and restored. The conservation work was coordinated by the URA, which had certain stipulations that the new owners had to comply with. Several features of the original building had to be restored faithfully. These included the General Post Office gallery area on the ground floor, with bays that corresponded with the building's towering Doric columns on the façade, and the Straits Club Billiard Room. The post office gallery no longer exists, but has been subdivided to provide a bar, a restaurant and the hotel foyer. The Straits Club Billiard Room was kept, but without its wood panelling.[6]

Exterior works[edit]

The building's neo-classical columns and high-ceiling verandas were retained. It was clad in Shanghai plaster panels, which have been restored. The owners converted the windows back to be housed in timber frames. Part of the tunnel under Fullerton Road, which was used to transfer mail onto ships waiting in the harbour, has also been kept.[6][15]

Interior works[edit]

While the building's exterior has been conserved, the architects had also to transform the interior into a five-star hotel. The room on the fourth storey, where the British Governor was first told of the British military's decision to surrender to the Japanese during World War II, was converted to an exclusive lounge. The room has a barrel-vaulted, coffered ceiling, which is the only one of its kind in Singapore.[15]

Fullerton Lighthouse at Harbour Front Tower

The building's historical lighthouse, which used to guide ships into the port, has been incorporated into a food and beverage outlet. The Fullerton Light, a revolving beacon of 540 kilocandelas mounted on the roof of the building, was installed in 1958 to replace the Fort Canning Lighthouse which was being demolished. The beacon could be seen by ships 29 kilometres (15.7 nautical miles) away.[3][4][15][16] The Lighthouse has been moved to a new location as an artefact near Harbour Front Tower.

The Fullerton Building was designed for natural ventilation before the age of air-conditioning; one of the architectural devices used to provide this was the internal air-wells. There were four air-wells along the central longitudinal axis, divided by three internal bays of offices, linking the front façade with the rear. It was the largest and the last example of this kind of architecture in Singapore. As air-conditioning became increasingly common, the air-wells became redundant.[6]

Two parallel sets of guest rooms now ring the hotel's central triangular sky-lit atrium. One row faces out towards the harbour and the tall buildings of the central business district. The rooms of the inner ring have views of the courtyard in the centre of the building. There is an indoor garden over the old Straits Club at the centre of the atrium which can double as a venue for cocktails. The main entrance into the hotel, where dignitaries and celebrities are received, is covered with a large glass canopy at the porch.[5][8][11]

Structural and foundation works[edit]

Construction work in the interior was carried out to reinforce the beams and columns, while retrofitting done on the exterior to restore the façade.[11]

Although studies carried out before the renovation work began showed most of the raft foundation was still in good condition, water from the adjacent Singapore River had seeped slowly into some of the foundation's cells over the years, flooding parts of the old basement. As a result, a new precast concrete platform was built over the cells, and waterproofing added. Pillars supporting the entire building now rest on the platform. The engineering team installed a new set of five drainage pumps to counteract the slow seepage of river water. As the building sits on solid rock foundation, no additional piling was required.[5][11]

Gazetting as National Monument[edit]

The building was officially gazetted on December 7, 2015 as Singapore's 71st national monument, by the country's National Heritage Board (NHB). With its new status, the building will be preserved under the Preservation of Monuments Act.[18] The former Fullerton Building is one of three icons to be given the national monument status this year. The other two are Jurong Town Hall and Istana Kampong Glam.


The Fullerton Hotel Singapore has 400 rooms and suites which either overlook the atrium courtyard, or face downtown Singapore's skyline, the Singapore River promenade or the Marina Bay.[19]

The hotel has a 25-metre outdoor infinity swimming pool, fitness centre and a luxury spa. It also has five food and beverage outlets. For business travellers, the hotel has a 24-hour financial centre with the Bloomberg Professional service that provides financial reports and world news, and 15 meeting rooms equipped with conference facilities.[19]


The Fullerton Hotel Singapore won the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List award.[19] On 18 July 2001, the hotel received an architectural heritage award from the Urban Redevelopment Authority for its successful restoration of the former Fullerton Building.[6][20]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Our History". The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. Archived from the original on 28 August 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Vernon Cornelius-Takahama (19 May 2001). "Fullerton Building". Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board. Retrieved 4 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e National Heritage Board (2002). Singapore's 100 Historic Places. Singapore: Archipelago Press. ISBN 981-4068-23-3. 
  4. ^ a b Tommy Koh, et al. (eds.) (2006). Singapore: The Encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board. ISBN 981-4155-63-2. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Colin Tan (14 December 2000). "Fullerton". The Straits Times. p. M12. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Arthur Sim (19 July 2001). "Fullerton wins heritage award". The Straits Times. p. L7. 
  7. ^ a b Norman Edwards, Peter Keys (1996). Singapore – A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places. Singapore: Times Books International. ISBN 9971-65-231-5. 
  8. ^ a b c Wong Yunn Chii (2005). Singapore 1:1 City: A Gallery of Architecture & Urban Design. Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority. ISBN 981-05-4467-7. 
  9. ^ a b Koh Boon Pin (6 June 2000). "A peek into the Fullerton". The Straits Times. p. 40. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d e f "New look for ol' lady". The Straits Times. 29 May 1999. p. 86. 
  12. ^ Clara Chow (31 October 2001). "It was more than just the GPO". The Straits Times. p. L5. 
  13. ^ Edwin Lee (1990). Historic Buildings of Singapore. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board. ISBN 9971-88-224-8. 
  14. ^ a b Joshua Chia, Nor-Afidah Abd Rahman (17 June 2006). "Singapore Club". Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board. Retrieved 4 September 2007. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Pauline Leong (12 April 2001). "Hotel project preserves hallmarks of Fullerton Building". The Straits Times. p. 43. 
  16. ^ a b c Phyllis Wee (28 May 2001). "Fullerton Hotel". Singapore Infopedia, National Library Board. Retrieved 4 September 2007. 
  17. ^ a b Tee Hun Ching (16 September 2001). "One Up: Its uncluttered sea view, mix of trendy joints and the bayside location of One Fullerton have pulled in the crowds". The Sunday Times. p. SP6. 
  18. ^;page=0;query=DocId%3A850a1104-4ec2-4e62-860c-2f4c138d08ef%20Depth%3A0%20ValidTime%3A23%2F02%2F2014%20TransactionTime%3A23%2F02%2F2014%20Status%3Ainforce;rec=0;whole=yes
  19. ^ a b c Aun Koh, Susan Leong (2006). Singapore chic. Singapore: Archipelago Press. ISBN 981-4155-74-8. 
  20. ^ "The Fullerton Singapore wins 2001 URA Architectural Heritage Award" (PDF) (Press release). The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. 18 July 2001. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Melanie Chew (2001). Memories of the Fullerton. Singapore: The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. ISBN 981-04-4777-9. 
  • William Warren, Jill Gocher (2007). Asia's legendary hotels: the romance of travel. Singapore: Periplus Editions. ISBN 978-0-7946-0174-4. 

External links[edit]