Fondly remembered as the site of Singapore Polytechnic’s campus, the former Bestway Building now hides amongst the skyscraper-lined financial centre at Prince Edward Road. As Singapore’s first technical institution, it provided studies, research, and training in technology to a pool of technicians for Singapore’s developing economy in the 1950s and 1960s.
A Muted Yet Functional Design Built Around Convenience
The campus’s modern tropical aesthetic was built with an emphasis on convenience. In stark contrast to architects Swan and MacLaren’s usual portfolio of magnificent colonial buildings, Bestway Building was muted and functional. The campus was designed in 1957 and completed a year later.
Made up of a symmetrical series of reinforced concrete blocks, the cluster of blocks were designed with a controlled width, to allow sufficient penetration of natural lighting and cross ventilation. The three connected blocks housed administrative offices, a main lecture theatre, library, classrooms, studios, laboratories and workshops.
The front four-storey block dedicated to the main lecture theatre has a prominent front foyer adorned with distinctive mosaic patterns. The windows on both sides of the front façade are framed with vertical fins and horizontal ledges to provide extra shade from the sun and rain.
The Journey to Dover Road
Upon completion of the campus, Singapore Polytechnic had enrolled over 2800 students across 58 courses in five different departments: Engineering, Building and Architecture, Science and Technology, General Education and Commerce. The first graduation ceremony for professional diploma students was held on 26 August 1961.
Amidst the growing student population, Singapore Polytechnic eventually set up two additional campus sites; one at Ayer Rajah Road and their present campus location (former Princess Mary Barracks) in Dover Road.
A Functional Space for Many
When Singapore Polytechnic expanded and moved to its present site in Dover Road, Bestway Building continued to serve as a home for many others. In 1978, the Labour Ministry’s Employment Service and the Research and Statistics Department moved in from Anson Road. Following that, the National Institute of Commerce (NIC) took over, offering a series of commercial courses and training in 1982.
In the mid-1990s, the site was leased out as a commercial entity and was officially renamed Bestway Building. It housed Mediacorp TV12 (formerly Singapore Television Twelve).
At the time of writing, the building is vacant due to the construction of the new Prince Edward MRT station which is expected to be completed in 2025.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.gov.sg are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.gov.sg does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of March 2020 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.