Standing tall and proud along Singapore's famed Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura is a testament to the ever-evolving shopping culture of this island nation. Not only is it one of the oldest malls along Orchard Road, but it also holds the distinction of being among the first shopping centres in this shopping paradise.
Inaugurated in August 1975 by the then Finance Minister Hon Sui Sen, Plaza Singapura immediately etched its mark in the annals of Singapore's retail history. In its early days, it was renowned as a family-friendly hub.
Its allure was such that many simply referred to the mall as "Yaohan," named after one of its earliest anchor tenants, the Yaohan department store. This store was known for pioneering features, like one of the first in-store bakeries that introduced the “an-pan” - a soft bun with a delicious Japanese red bean paste filling.
Design and Innovations
Managed initially by the Development Bank of Singapore’s subsidiary, DBS Land, Plaza Singapura was a pioneer in its design. It was the first multi-level shopping mall with seven floors and two basements. Not only was it the largest of its kind at that time, but it also embraced the concept of sustainable designs, bagging the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Gold award in 2007.
Throughout its existence, the mall has seen several transformations. A significant revamp came in 1997-1998, followed by another in 2011-2012. The most significant transformation, however, was in 2012. Costing around S$150 million, it expanded the mall's retail space by a whopping 25 percent.
This revamp saw the conversion of office spaces to retail, and the introduction of various new retailers such as Cold Storage in Basement 2 and John Little on Level 1. One of the most visually striking changes from this renovation was the addition of the multi-coloured sculptures called the Jelly Baby Family by renowned Italian artist Mauro Peruchetti.
Link to Transit and Strategic Positioning
One of Plaza Singapura's strengths is its prime location. Directly linked to the Dhoby Ghaut MRT interchange station, its accessibility is unmatched. This, combined with its variety of shops catering to basic consumer needs, sets it apart from other malls in Orchard Road. As a result, it enjoys a broad base of visitors, ranging from families to teenagers and young adults.
Iconic Tenants and Crowd-Pullers
From its earliest tenant, Yaohan, to its later occupants like Daimaru, Courts, Golden Village cinema, and more recently Cold Storage and Tim Ho Wan, Plaza Singapura has always been home to iconic brands. Each tenant, in its own right, has been a crowd-puller, ensuring that the mall remains bustling with activity.
A Youthful Vibe
In the past two decades, Plaza Singapura has made concerted efforts to woo the younger demographic. With stores like Comics Connection and Daiso, it has successfully positioned itself as "youth central". The direct connection to the MRT, especially after the Dhoby Ghaut station became an interchange for multiple lines, has further amplified its appeal among the younger crowd.
Plaza Singapura's journey from the mid-1970s to now is a reflection of Singapore's retail evolution. It stands as a symbol of adaptability, innovation, and timeless appeal. As Singapore marches forward, Plaza Singapura, with its mix of history and modernity, promises to be a beacon of retail excellence on Orchard Road.