Between the Botanic Gardens, Kampong Glam and the city centre, it was not easy to decide on a favourite place. However, in the end I chose Esplanade, even though it is very touristy, because it is a place where I made many fond memories throughout the whole year.
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is a performing arts centre housing a concert hall, a theatre, an outdoor theatre and several smaller venues. Aside from sentimental value, I have also always been fascinated by its architecture. It is often called “the Durian” by Singaporeans because it is shaped like two of those fruits. However, as I found out later, this was not intentional. The unique cladding structures were only mounted later to shield the glass from the sun, and the building was supposed to look like two Chinese lanterns initially.
As a theatre enthusiast, the Esplanade appeals to me not only for its interesting architecture but also for its function. The arts scene in Singapore is quite limited (not only due to the lack of freedom of speech), so the Esplanade plays a big role in the local performing arts industry. They offer a wide range of programmes including music, theatre, dance, visual arts and film. Unfortunately, the plays in this theatre were always too expensive for me, but I went to see a great dance performance by Japanese visual performance troupe enra in one of the studios. Since I really wanted to see the theatre and concert hall from the inside, I went on a tour of the Esplanade where I found out a lot more about its history and architecture. Most fascinating to me was the size, the detailed planning that went into the construction of this centre, and the acoustics of the concert hall. In comparison to the cozy theatres I usually go to in Europe, the Esplanade is very modern and has world-class facilities that are highly thought-through.
Another special aspect about the Esplanade is its location. The centre lies at the iconic Marina Bay, and one of my favourite things to do was to admire the view of Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Central Business District from the outdoor theatre and the rooftop terrace.
On my first night in Singapore, a Singaporean friend I know from Edinburgh took me here to meet her friends and drink at the bay. Throughout the year, I often came back to the outdoor theatre for pre-drinks or to watch the free concerts on weekends. I met many interesting people and made a lot of great memories at the Esplanade. It was therefore obvious to me that I would have to spend my last night in Singapore here as well, this time with my closest friends. The rooftop terrace I only discovered when a local who works at the theatre took me there, even though it is easily accessible. From then on, this became my go-to place to take my visitors, mostly for the great view.
As such, the Esplanade not only reminds me of all my local friends who took me here and introduced me to Singapore, but also of my family and friends from home that I got to show my exchange destination to.