The Embassy and the Residence
The French Embassy Building
Previously located at 5 Gallop Road, the French Embassy has, since September 1999, moved to 101-103 Cluny Park Road, opposite the Botanic Gardens. This new building houses all the departments of the French Embassy.
The architectural firm, Dubus-Richez designed the building, after winning the competition launched by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1993. The building’s outstanding features have earned it an award from the Singapore Institute of Architects.
To emphasise a “certain French state of mind”, glass and aluminium have been used for the external facade, while wood, stone and leather, used for the interior.
The building comprises two staggered blocks with white aluminium panels outlined with prominent steel side extensions. The metal has been used for its capacity to withstand the equatorial climate. The rest of the structure is in stainless steel. The two juxtaposed forms create an entrance with the national flag above, and the landing where dignitaries are received.
The offices occupy three floors and the public area is an open atrium with a glass sunroof. A transparent glass lift and a balcony along the walls allow for the free movement of personnel and visitors. A monochrome of soft colours and the choice of materials used - the yellow of the stone for the floor, the sycamore panels and the beige leather - contribute to the serene ambience of the lobby.
Special attention has been given to the floor where the diplomatic chancery is located. The hall is lined with wooden panels with a wall made of slate leading to the Ambassador’s office. Philippe Soffiotti, a young French designer created the furniture. His most striking piece is the desk of the Ambassador, which is made of pear wood.
The desk in the atrium is Xylos-designed
The furniture in the Ambassador’s office is by Philippe Soffiotti.
The Residence of the Ambassador
Built in 1923 this magnificent two-storey residence is typical of the Black and White colonial style commonly employed at that time.
Designed by one of Singapore’s greatest architects of the colonial period - Frank Wilhim Brewer, the house sits on a small hill, replete with buttress walls, oriole windows, exposed brick voussoirs and roughcast plasterwork.
A distinct Englishness pervades most of Brewer’s architectural creations and the Anglo-Indian references of the prewar black and white houses have all but disappeared here save for the louvred shutters and ventilation grilles. The beautiful gardens surrounding the building adds much to the old-world charm of the residence.
Source : Black and White, the Singapore House 1898-1941, by Julian Davison, Talisman Editions