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Nine historical gardens open at Fort Canning Park to reflect rich heritage of hill

27 May 2019
  • BALIKSG Fort Canning Trail launched to enhance visitors’ experience with AR
  • Improved accessibility to the hill with escalators and platform lift

Singapore, 27 May 2019 – The National Parks Board (NParks) today opened nine historical gardens at Fort Canning Park. Accompanying these gardens are refreshed wayfinding and trail guides which will allow visitors to plan their own trail and explore the hill at their own pace. To complement these trails, NParks, together with the National Heritage Board (NHB), launched the second phase of the augmented reality trail, BALIKSG: The Fort Canning Trail today. Accessibility has also been improved with pedestrianisation of some areas, covered escalators and a platform lift for seamless connectivity from the adjacent streets and within Fort Canning Park. A range of educational programmes, such as simulated archaeological digs, will be introduced to present the history of the hill to visitors. These developments mark the completion of the first phase of the Fort Canning Park enhancement plan and are a reflection of the public feedback garnered during the consultation exercise in February last year.

Opening of nine new gardens As one of Singapore’s two National Parks, Fort Canning Park is deeply rooted in history, from the time of the 14th century kings to the founding of modern Singapore in the 19th and 20th centuries. NParks referenced historical texts to restore and curate the nine gardens – the Pancur Larangan, Artisan’s Garden, Sang Nila Utama Garden, Jubilee Park (Phase 1), Raffles Garden, First Botanic Garden, Farquhar Garden, Spice Garden and Armenian Street Park. First Botanic Garden The First Botanic Garden is bounded by Hill Street, Victoria Street, Bras Basah Road, Handy Road and Canning Rise and includes Farquhar Garden, Spice Garden and Armenian Street Park. The streetscapes have been enhanced to reflect the crops introduced to Singapore in the early colonial era. The Spice Garden, showcases spice-inspired plantings in a series of cascading terraces and restored plantations. Armenian Street Park, a multi-agency effort to create a walkable and vibrant space for the public, features a planting scheme that pays homage to the Peranakan culture through spices used in Peranakan cooking. Launch of BALIKSG: Fort Canning Trail.

In collaboration with NHB, NParks launched an augmented reality (AR) trail – BALIKSG: Fort Canning Trail, experienced through the free BALIKSG smartphone app. The first phase of BALIKSG: Singapore River Trail, was introduced earlier in January, as part of the launch of the Singapore Bicentennial commemoration, and features an AR experience along the Singapore River. Phase two now brings park visitors on an interactive journey through Fort Canning Park, revisiting the hill back when it was known as Bukit Larangan or Government Hill. The total length of the trail is about 2.5km, with eight checkpoints placed throughout the park including the various gardens.

The existing 14th and 19th century heritage trails have also been refreshed and re-curated to interpret the rich history of Fort Canning Park. BALIKSG complements both these trails, offering an interactive and educational experience for park visitors.

Refreshed programming, outreach and education

Together with the new gardens, NParks is introducing a wider range of programmes throughout the year to suit varied interests. Aside from signature events such as Ballet Under the Stars and Shakespeare at the Park, NParks has curated programmes which will bring to life Fort Canning Hill’s rich history. In particular, NParks is working with archaeologists from the National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University and the Institute of South-East Asian Studies (ISEAS) to organise several archaeology-based programmes throughout the year. This includes archaeology workshops at the Artisan’s Garden where children can try their hands at being archaeologists for a day at the simulated sand pit.

In conjunction with “From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience”, which will be held at the Fort Canning Centre, NParks is organising a series of programmes over two weekends from 1-9 June 2019. Titled “Bicentennial @ Fort Canning”, programme highlights include NParks Concert Series in the Park: Rockestra® at Fort Canning Green, archaeology workshops and talks, guided heritage walks and hands-on craft and spice sessions. There will also be a Meet-the-Archaeologist session at Artisan’s Garden on the second weekend of the festival where members of the public can learn more about archaeology and the rich history of Fort Canning Park from an archaeologist from ISEAS.

Enhanced accessibility and connectivity

To enhance accessibility and connectivity to the park, NParks has installed two stretches of covered escalators and a platform lift which will allow visitors in particular families with young children, seniors and the disabled, to reach Fort Canning Centre via Jubilee Park, and Fort Canning Park from Farquhar Garden. The connections provide easier access from Fort Canning, City Hall and Bras Basah MRT stations to Fort Canning Centre.

To create seamless connectivity to Fort Canning Park and a pedestrian-friendly environment within and around the park, part of Canning Rise and Armenian Street have been pedestrianised. The transformation of Armenian Street into a new park and public space for people and events is also part of larger plans to connect Fort Canning Park, Bras Basah.Bugis, and the Civic District together to form an expanded arts, cultural and heritage precinct.

Phase 2 of FCP enhancement plan

Minister for National Development and Second Minster for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong opened the gardens at Fort Canning Park this morning. He also announced that NParks will be embarking on the second phase of the masterplan for Fort Canning Hill which will be completed by 2021. NParks will be completing the restoration of Jubilee Park, rejuvenating the space for events and introducing a nature playgarden. The Foothills will feature galleries and more F&B outlets. Fort Canning Centre will also be repurposed as a gallery to showcase the rich history of the hill and the beginnings of Singapore through the 14th, 19th and 20th centuries. Works for the centre will begin after the end of the Singapore Bicentennial exhibition. NParks is also conducting a feasibility study on the possibility of a lookout point and gallery at the top of Fort Canning Hill. This study will take about a year to complete.

Last updated on 06 April 2021

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