Located on Level 3 and the mezzanine of the Supreme Court Wing, National Gallery Singapore’s Rotunda dome was renovated and converted into a Gallery Library & Archive to house the museum’s collection of 20,000 physical and digital items, in what is one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of archival and reference resources on 19th and 20th century Southeast Asian art.
The challenge for the design studio was to revive the Rotunda’s historical function, and create a space that is simultaneously contemporary and historical, harmonising new with old in a timeless and refined manner, with the gravitas and integrity deserving of its status.
The design was heavily influenced by a deep level of historical research, and in understanding the existing interior architecture of the Rotunda when it was originally designed. The inherent spatial hierarchy of the Rotunda influenced the new program layout of the Library & Archive, and kept the priority to retain the impressive view towards the inner dome of the library from all usable interior angles as best as possible.
Working with a combination of local and traditional international cabinet makers to fabricate joinery work with the best craftsmanship was of paramount importance to ensure pieces were built to last. Selected new furniture was designed and added, while original historical furniture was retained and carefully restored.