Monday, October 22, 2007

SINGAPORE’S first research and development (R&D) hub, the 25-year-old Singapore Science Park, is getting a $400 million makeover.

SINGAPORE’S first research and development (R&D) hub, the 25-year-old Singapore Science Park, is getting a $400 million makeover.

The renovations will create more space for the R&D companies there and improve access to greenery and recreational facilities.

The first phase of development, to cost half of the $400 million, will start next month. It will add 87,000 sq m of space, an increase of 14 per cent over the current built-up space of the hub.

Its developer, Ascendas, hopes the new look will help it to retain current tenants and attract new ones.

The makeover comprises:

A new access road;

New buildings, one of which will house recreational facilities under one roof; and

Footpaths leading to the Kent Ridge nature park.

The redevelopment, to take place in three phases over the next 10 years, largely affects Science Park I, which is near the National University Hospital.

Ascendas president and chief executive Chong Siak Ching told The Straits Times that this portion of the Science Park is older than Science Parks II and III, and most in need of a makeover.

Science Park II was completed in 2001 and the first building in Science Park III, in 2002. A new building will be added there next year, which still leaves land for future buildings.

The new access road to be built under Phase 1 of the redevelopment will extend from Normanton Park into Science Park I.

At the moment, the only way to get into the area is from South Buona Vista Road.

Work on the road will begin in the middle of next year, as four existing buildings in the centre of Science Park I are torn down and rebuilt as a single building, for now called the Central Plaza.

At six storeys high, it will house facilities such as a gym, restaurants, an auditorium, as well as R&D and IT firms.

Ms Chong noted that although each building has its own cafeteria now, most other recreational facilities are scattered throughout Science Park I.

The road and the building are expected to be completed in 2011, at about the time the MRT Circle Line construction in the area is ready, she added.

The construction of another building, Cintech 4, will start next month and will be completed in 2009.

Later phases of the makeover will see the redevelopment of another five buildings and the building of footpaths linking buildings in all three Science Parks to the greenery of Kent Ridge Park.

The Science Park, born as the first initiative to centralise R&D activities in Singapore, has been somewhat eclipsed in recent years by its more glamorous cousins - the life sciences hub Biopolis, and Fusionopolis, the infocommunications and media technologies research hub.

Ms Chong is not daunted by this. She sees the Science Park’s natural green setting as its selling point.

‘Researchers can take a walk in Kent Ridge Park or sit by the lake to take a break from work or to get inspiration for fresh ideas,’ she said in an interview at Science Park I last week.

Science Park tenants welcome the makeover.

Long-time tenant Seagate Technology’s senior vice-president of global disc storage operations, Mr David Mosley, said: ‘We expect the redevelopment…to not only positively impact our business operations, but also to enhance the work-life balance of our employees.’

Source : Straits Times - 22 Oct 2007

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