October 13th 2004

The Straits Times



Singapore Architect Issue 223 [.pdf]

Text : Alan Yeung Woo

Photography : Peter Mealin



D+A Issue 020 | 2004 [.htm]

Design and Architecture [Asia]

Text : Ling Hao

Photography : Alex Heng


ISH Fragments of an Urban Scape

Text : Ethel Ong

Photography : Kelley Cheng



Wallpaper Magazine [UK] October 2004 [.htm]


Cafe Society Exterior Tents



Project Design Team :

Poole Associates Private Limited

Ed Poole, Wong Kim Mei

e:mail contact@poole-associates.com

T: 65 | 6536 | 3928



C  A  F  E     S  O  C  I  E  T  Y         [now closed down]


The space is well appointed in a modern Euro-Asian cafe style. Open seven days a week from 11:am until 1:am, the venue provides a comprehensive Western and Asian menu, with alfresco dining and live entertainment at the second floor bar. Dress to impress.


Facelift for oldest building 'a winner'

SINGAPORE'S oldest building, the Old Parliament House, is among the winners of the URA Architectural Heritage Awards this year.

It was the only national monument among the winners of the competition, which was expanded last year to include projects that successfully fused traditional and modern architectural elements.

The Old Parliament House reopened in March after a $15-million facelift as an arts and heritage centre called The Arts House.

Built originally as a home in 1826, it served as a Parliament house from 1965 to 1999.

Ms Rita Soh, president of the Singapore Institute of Architects, praised 'the very clever transformation of a historic building into a contemporary arts house without destroying its charm and character'.

For instance, Parliament Chamber, along with its original furnishings and fittings, was restored as a concert chamber hall.

Among the other winners of the competition, originally launched in 1995 to honour well-restored monuments and conservation buildings, are three terrace houses - two in Cairnhill and the third in River Valley.


History -

The former Parliament House building, the oldest surviving government building in Singapore, stands on the banks of the Singapore River. This was where the Temenggong and his followers lived in 1819, when Raffles first arrived. It was also the site of a 13th or 14th century settlement, as revealed by some 300 archaeological fragments of stoneware and earthenware that were uncovered during a 1989 renovation.

In 1823, Raffles ordered the local chief to move to Telok Blangah and claimed this select piece of land for government use. The two-storey Neo-Palladian building was completed in 1827.

Courtrooms and offices first occupied the building. In 1839, the courts moved out and the entire building was converted into government offices. Offices occupied the building until 1875 when the Supreme Court of the colony moved in.

On 9 August 1965, Singapore became a sovereign and independent republic and the Legislative Assembly building was renamed Parliament House. It was gazetted as a national monument on 14th February 1992.

In April 2004, the Annex building will enter a new phase of usage as Poole Associates is commissioned to design a restaurant and bar named Cafe Society to be located in the former ground floor Recreation Room and 2nd floor Court Room. The second floor opposite will revert from The Arts House management offices, to Cafe Society's formal dining room in 2005.


Custom Fabrications :

Fieldworks Trading + Design, Bali

8.18 South, Bayuwangi, Java

Hopo Bright Furniture, Singapore + China

Arista Carpets, UK

Bobby Fabrics, 57 Arab St, Singapore 199754

Kitchens :

Audio : Fanpro Fantasia Productions

Exhaust : WN Consultants

Willy Baet : Monumental Painting




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Singapore, 29 Mar 2005 – Café Society, one of Singapore’s elegant riverside cafés and restaurants, will be launching a river taxi service from Boat Quay to the Sir Raffles’ statue at ‘The Arts House at Old Parliament’ on 6 April 2005.


The cross-river taxi service is launched in conjunction with the unveiling of Café Society’s artistic Bakau + canvas tents. Designed by renowned American architect, Ed Poole of Poole Associates, the tents overlook the Singapore River and provide a cozy atmosphere for dining.

The tentage is a unique landmark on the ‘arts’ side of the river, reflecting the area’s heritage. The wood comes from a common type of mangrove tree called ‘bakau’ (Rhizophora) and once used extensively along the quays and warehouses during the colonial era. For those who remember will also nostalgically recall their use in street wayang tents and building scaffolds.

Ed Poole explains, “Three black and grey striped tarps provide shade along the designated seating area. The axis of each tarp is offset to create a complex intersection of poles and crossing members, for a casual ad-hoc ambience that is directly opposed to the formality of the symmetrical Greco Neo-Palladian architecture.

A vague expression of a temporary Asian stage-set is apparent. The theatrical nature of the structure is obviously in relation to the new usage of the building as The Arts House at Old Parliament.  

The bamboo support poles are given lateral support via crossing poles located over the height of the canvas tarps, thus keeping the floor area relatively free of obstruction. Soft lighting and pots with birds-nest ferns and orchids soften the landscape and create a sense of place with minimal means. We were also trying to invoke a respect for the Temenggong and his followers, whom originally lived here, being displaced by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819”.

Café Society’s river taxi service will operate from Monday to Friday between 6pm to 8.30pm. Mr Michael Hough, the Managing Director of Café Society said, “It is a quick touch-and-go ride with the boat turning around every 5 minutes, so no one has to really wait. The service is only for our customers. Many come from the financial district side of the river and we think they will appreciate the novel way to get directly to us. It is also a relaxing change of pace and goes a little way towards the ‘winding down’ after work”, much like our philosophy which is to provide a refreshing alternative from the other side of the river.


Café Society


Café Society celebrated its first anniversary in March and is the largest of the three dining outlets belonging to The Arts House at Old Parliament, a chic contemporary bar on the second floor and a breezy café at the ground. The main outdoor dining area faces the Singapore River and is next to the famous Sir Stamford Raffles statue (The Landing Site).

The second floor used to be the Magistrate’s Courts and the chambers are now the Café’s private dining room. Also on the second floor is a little al fresco Verandah, over the old Porte-Cocher, with splendid views of the surrounding period buildings and the river.


Cafe Society Tent structures added 15th March 2005 © Copyright Poole Associates Private Limited