United against an invisible enemy

i2 2020 covid cif expo 2
i2 2020 covid cif expo 2

Converting exhibition venues to community isolation facilities to relieve the pressure on hospitals in Singapore – A view of a hall in Changi East Exhibition Centre.

A view of a hall in Singapore Expo.


As the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore escalated quickly from March 2020, Surbana Jurong played an integral role in quickly transforming large-scale venues into community care facilities from early April, to ease the pressure on hospital beds. These included the  Singapore Expo which had 960 beds set up over three days and the home of the Singapore Airshow, the Changi Exhibition Centre (CEC) which was also set up in two weeks.

A time-lapse video of the setting up process at Singapore Expo can be seen here. The republic expects to increase the number of bed spaces to 20,000 by the end of June.

With our multidisciplinary team of healthcare planners, architects, M&E engineers, project managers and procurement staff, the team eventually went on to set up 10 halls with 8,000 beds in four weeks.  CEC could accommodate 2,700 residents, and up to 4,400 if needed. These facilities have “rooms” with space for single beds, double beds and for up to 10 beds.

The Expo was meant to house recovering patients who had been hospitalised and may still have the virus while recovering. The CEC facility currently looks after more than 2,600 migrant workers who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Surbana Jurong’s design consultants had taken into consideration the possibly long duration for many of the patients at such facilities, their comfort, privacy and above all, safety. Our many partners, including PSA, Woodlands Health Campus, Parkway Pantai, SingEx, Resorts World Sentosa, also contributed to the Expo project. The CEC was set up by a task force comprising nine MINDEF-affiliated organisations with the involvement of Surbana Jurong, the Dormitory Association of Singapore, Experia Events, Mandarin Oriental Singapore and Raffles Medical Group.

In addition, Indonesia has also shipped bedding supplies to Singapore to supplement existing supplies for the facilities, while CNQC South Pacific Holdings – our partner of 20 years – also donated 50,000 disposable medical face masks, 10000 KN95 face masks, and 10,000 pairs of protective shoe covers.

A shipment of bedding items from Indonesia arrived on 22 April 2020 and was presented by Ngurah Swajaya, Ambassador of Indonesia to Singapore, to representatives from Singapore. (From left) Wong Heang Fine, Group CEO of Surbana Jurong; Tan Chong Meng, Group CEO of PSA International; Ng Boon Heong, CEO of Temasek Foundation; Ngurah Swajaya, Ambassador of Indonesia to Singapore; Rumaksono, Trade Attache, Indonesia Embassy in Singapore; Yeo Choon Chong, CEO, Singapore, Surbana Jurong.

CNQC, our partner for nearly 20 years, made a donation of 50,000 disposable medical face masks, 10000 KN95 face masks, and 10,000 pairs of protective shoe covers.

Group CEO Wong Heang Fine also observed that B+H’s Toronto design team used an open-source design to manufacture protective face shields. These 3-D printed, laser-cut shields can be used by healthcare workers on the frontlines or industry professionals still working at project sites.

B+H Associate & Senior Designer Felipe Zumaeta assembles a printed face mask prototype in the Toronto studio. The protective face shields (below left) can be used on a project site visit, or for healthcare workers (below right) fighting the battle against Covid-19.

Our colleagues’ going the extra mile have not gone unnoticed – even outside the group. For instance, the Singapore leaders have spoken well of our teams’ work.

GCEO said in an email to staff: “The senior leadership and I are grateful for your efforts. We are not alone in our appreciation. In a Facebook post, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cited Singapore Expo, our project to convert the convention centre into a community care facility and ease the demand for hospital beds, as an example of ‘innovative, workable solutions on the ground.'” Singapore’s National Development Minister Lawrence Wong has also expressed, on Facebook, his appreciation for Surbana Jurong and other organisations for stepping up to help.

In a ministerial statement on 4 May, Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong highlighted Surbana Jurong’s participation with partners such as Temasek Holdings, Singapore Expo, the Integrated Health Information Systems, Resorts World Sentosa as the managing agent, PSA, ST Engineering, Certis Cisco, Parkway Pantai, the Woodlands Health Campus as well as the Singaore Armed Forces. “Through the efforts of everyone involved,” he said, “we managed to set up the first hall [at Expo] in a week. This is truly an exemplary example of a Whole-Of-Society effort.”

Finally, GCEO Wong added that the Chairman and board directors have sent notes of thanks, as have leaders of our shareholder Temasek. Surbana Jurong’s LinkedIn post about the project has generated over 1,000 likes and many thankful comments from built environment professionals. The group is also planning a traineeship programme for new graduates to make them more employable post-Covid-19. Press on, Team Surbana Jurong! #SJunited

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