One-north Singapore, conceived in the 1990s, is an innovative mixed-development project meant to reposition Singapore as a knowledge economy. Its overall design combines research facilities, business parks and educational institutes in a work-live-play environment that is conducive for research-based industries and companies to thrive.

Its name reflects its ambition to house a critical mass of research talent and support an industry ecosystem in which innovation and research translate into commercial value, both in terms of knowledge-based business development and high-value training and HR services. The district’s main hubs – Biopolis, Fusionopolis and Mediapolis – have been developed to house key industries such as biomedical sciences, information-communications technology and media.

The design of the masterplan for one-north was spearheaded by architect Zaha Hadid who wanted to challenge the existing planning norms that often restricted the size, shape and location of buildings. She sought to create a highly stimulating spatial experience for the research community to encourage serendipitous interactions that would stimulate and nurture new ideas.

She also incorporated residential elements to help promote community building, an essential aspect of any innovative workplace. She has built a series of public spaces, such as the amphitheatre and driveway plazas, that can be used by anyone, including residents, to hold social activities or events.

As a community hub, one-north has created a variety of co-living spaces that cater to young people who are working at the nearby creative and technology companies. These include lyf one-north, a contemporary co-living development which offers a range of public and semi-public spaces for comfortable living, socialising and recreation.

Heritage in one-north

As the name implies, one-north is a conservation area that has preserved heritage buildings dating back to the 1940s. These black-and-white bungalows were once home to British military soldiers stationed at Pasir Panjang Military Complex, and have since been redeveloped into quaint lifestyle spots such as restaurants.

Heritage has played a pivotal role in attracting businesses to one-north and has helped preserve older structures from being demolished. For example, unilever’s Four Acres Singapore leadership development facility has 10 conserved black-and-white colonial bungalows, nine of which have been turned into on-site accommodation and one into a cafeteria.

The heritage architecture has also attracted a number of thriving start-ups to one-north. In fact, a recent survey revealed that the area is home to more than 200 start-ups and is now a hub for entrepreneurship.

There are also a number of cultural and arts facilities within the district, such as Wessex Village Square @ one-north, a space for art exhibitions and events. This is part of JTC’s effort to encourage creative industries to move to one-north.

A walk through the park is a great way to get a sense of one-north’s history and culture as well as to see some interesting landscape features such as the Green Corridor which separates Wessex Estate from Commonwealth, where the KTM railway line trundles past. The KTM railway line was once a major transport link between the city centre and the rest of Singapore but it has since been removed, leaving a green corridor between Wessex and Commonwealth that is still in use today. the hill one north