Imagine flying into Singapore, getting tested for Covid-19, staying, working and meeting your counterparts in Singapore face to face over a few days without quarantine. That will be a reality with the completion of a pilot purpose-built accommodation for international travellers to visit Singapore to conduct business meetings in a safe and contained environment, with Singapore-based counterparts or other inbound international associates.
The project is called [email protected], the world’s first Business Travel Exchange. It is led by Temasek and includes The Ascott Limited, Changi Airport Group, Sheares Healthcare Group, SingEx and Surbana Jurong. When fully constructed in mid-2021, the facility will include more than 1,300 guest rooms and about 340 meeting rooms.
Construction is now underway for the first phase of the project. Located at the Singapore Expo & Max Atria, [email protected] is a five-minute drive from Changi Airport. When the first phase launches in Q1 2021 at Singapore EXPO Halls 7 and 8, there will be over 670 premium guest rooms and close to 170 meeting rooms. [email protected] will offer an integrated ‘test-stay-work-meet’ experience for inbound business travellers, complementing the Singapore’s broader efforts to accelerate the resumption of regional and international business activities in a safe and calibrated manner.
Travellers can expect a four-star hotel experience and close adherence to meticulous protocols to ensure the safety of guests and employees. These include a rigorous Covid-19 testing regime before, regularly throughout their stay, and prior to departing [email protected] for their home countries. Guests can meet their Singapore or international counterparts safely in specially designed meeting rooms outfitted with air-tight glass panels to reduce the risk of transmission. The entrances, exits and ventilation systems for both guests and Singapore-based visitors are separate.
(Above) A view of a guestroom in a prefab module and (below) another of the hotel reception in [email protected]
The first travellers to use [email protected] are expected to arrive late next month. It is hoped that [email protected] can also serve as an effective bubble for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector in the new normal.
Surbana Jurong Group CEO, Mr Wong Heang Fine, said, “[email protected] is another unusual project for us in a year that has been anything but predictable.” He explained that the set-up called for innovative architectural design and engineering and speed and agility in execution. “For example, we moved pre-fab modules into the exhibition halls on elevated rails, and had water, electricity and utility pipes running below these raised modules.” This eliminates the need to drill into the ground to lay pipes, saving construction time.
The prefab modules are raised on 600mm stumps, with water, electricity and utility pipes running below them.
Mr Yeo Choon Chong, CEO ASEAN, said Surbana Jurong’s role has been to provide a one-stop-shop turnkey solution for this project. “We collate all stakeholders’ requirements and translate these into a design brief for the project. Conventionally, to build a 600-room hotel of this quality, it takes 2.5 to three years, while we only have a matter of 14 weeks to deliver the first phase by the Q1 2021.”
Ms Nina Yang, CEO of SJ CityGlobal, which provides development management services, said that CityGlobal worked with Temasek, Ascott, SingEx and Sheares to translate operational needs of multiple stakeholders, as well as requirements from the government’s Covid-19 inter-ministerial task force, into clear design parameters for Surbana Jurong teams. She noted: “It is a race with time to operationalise [email protected] as the pandemic situation is ever evolving. The pace is an aggressive 14-week site implementation of the first phase.”
She said [email protected] is significant as it was conceived amidst a highly dynamic context as Singapore reopens air travel and prepares for an important sector of its economy to bounce back from the pandemic. “To this end,” she observed, “A key cornerstone of the project is the revisiting of policy restrictions as the government upholds the delicate balance between life and livelihood.”
Mr Yeo said that Surbana Jurong is experienced in the conversion of Singapore Expo and Big Box (a shopping mall with warehousing space) into Community Care Facilities as part of Singapore’s pandemic response, as well as the design of new dormitory projects for migrant workers during the height of the pandemic earlier this year. “The agencies are impressed with our quick response and ability to deliver these projects within such short timeline,” he said.
“For [email protected],” he said, “Our teams are proud to manage the entire construction, making sure that the project is delivered on time, within budget and with the right quality.”