The Only Way Is Up - Together
For a nation born in crisis, Singapore’s transformation has been nothing short of remarkable. So when a global pandemic struck in the midst of CapitaSpring’s construction, in true Singapore spirit, the CapitaSpring team dug deep and held their heads high.
Here are the stories of those who rose to the challenge of turning CapitaSpring from ambition to reality amidst the toughest crisis of our generation.
From Obstacle to Opportunity
When the global pandemic hit Singapore’s shores in early 2020, it unleashed a domino effect that brought the world as we know it to a standstill.
To Lee Yi Zhuan, General Manager at CapitaSpring, it was an opportunity. “The pandemic was unfortunate but it accelerated a lot of trends,” said Yi Zhuan, who oversees the development of CapitaSpring, from ideation to construction and leasing.
As his team dealt with these challenges, an unexpected question arose out of the pandemic — is the office still relevant?
Companies realised the importance of a workspace that offered flexibility and wellness, and a sense of community for their staff. The work-from-home arrangement also forced many to reconsider the value of the workplace.
“With employees working from home, we received questions on the relevance of office spaces. But while companies were reviewing their workspace strategies, they also realised the importance of upgrading to a higher-quality space for the benefit of their employees. With its forward-thinking features, CapitaSpring received strong interest from progressive companies and secured very good take-up even before completion.”
Set to rejuvenate the Raffles Place CBD, CapitaSpring ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the future of work, ready to fulfil what people want out of their workspaces. The 51-storey integrated development will offer work, live, play spaces in a vertically connected environment. Between the premium Grade A office floors and the Citadines serviced residence is the Green Oasis, a four-storey lush botanical promenade that offers social and activity spaces.
Racing Against Time
Ask Gregory Chua how he motivates his team at work and he’ll tell you: “The team is already highly motivated and committed to ensure the project completion despite the Covid situation. At times, they are the ones who push me when things get tough.”
As the Project Director of CapitaSpring, Gregory leads a team of eight, in addition to a team of consultants and contractors, and oversees the project planning and timely completion of CapitaSpring.
“We knew that erecting a 280-metre-tall building on a constraint site of 6,100 sqm at the former Golden Shoe Car Park would be a logistical challenge. The pandemic has made the Project far more challenging due to the shortage of manpower, embargo of construction materials and issues faced by the contractors.”
The multiple waves of the pandemic had affected the progress of the project several times during the peak of the construction cycle. In the face of adversity, Gregory and his team pushed themselves to innovate and think outside the box.
“Typically, developments with a single tower will obtain their Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOP), which means tenants can start to move in, only once. But we decided to split the completion of the project into three phases, to obtain three TOPs progressively.”
This allowed the team to better channel resources and aided in allowing tenants to move in timely, fulfilling their requirements.
Fiona Chua, who works alongside Gregory as Deputy Project Director, recalled how the race to meet the TOP deadline went down to the wire, with the team digging deep to push the project across the finishing line. “It was a race against time to be ready for the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) inspection in order for us to obtain TOP. We could barely afford having a day of bad weather.”
Thankfully, strong teamwork and communication within and across the contractors, consultants and project teams saw closer networks formed as everyone worked together to drive the project forward and expedite progress.
“For instance, for the installation of each glass louver panel (measuring 5.5m x 1.5m) at the roof crown façade, we increased the installation of the number of glass louver panels from an average of 7 panels a day to 12 panels at its peak, which is unheard of in our normal working cycles. Working hard together, there is a sense of pride as we see how far we’ve come today.”
A Sense Of Pride
At the start of 2020, things were looking sunny for Stephane Montfort from Dragages Singapore, who leads CapitaSpring’s main contractor team and oversees around 200 subcontractors and 2,000 workers.
“The construction of CapitaSpring was progressing smoothly and we were well on target. In fact, we were actually ahead of schedule.” Then, the pandemic struck Singapore, with the construction sector bearing the full brunt of its far-reaching impact. But Stephane and his team did not sit still during those quiet months. Instead, they explored ways to turn this headwind into a tailwind.
“To mitigate the serious shortage of tilers traditionally from China and Malaysia, we created a training centre and brought in a tiling trainer to teach our workers how to lay tiles. By the time construction resumed, they were ready to take on new roles with their skills.”
Stephane and his team had to navigate new safety measures such as staggered working hours, segregated work teams and safe distancing. They were even cited by BCA as a positive example of good Covid-19 management.
“People don’t realise that every building is built from the ground up by hand. There are workers going up 200 metres to put a panel in place and we don’t want to forget that. We encourage every worker to feel proud of their work and the progress they make every day, no matter how small.”
He recalls how they were working on the Green Oasis and how the workers developed such a soft spot for the plants and trees that they would take lots of photos to post in their group chat.
“To them, it represents new life and a symbol of hope. I hope it’ll come to represent the same for everyone who comes to CapitaSpring.”
Towards The Finish Line
Targeted to be completed by the end of 2021, the 280m integrated development is already rising at the heart of the CBD. But behind its immaculate glass-and-greenery facade is a team that quietly works in the background to put in all the finishing touches.
Meet the 18-strong operations team, led by Lim Jen Huat, Senior Manager.
“Our job is to get the building ready for tenants before they move in. We take care of all the little details that are usually taken for granted. For example, the air-conditioning has to be set at the right temperature so they won’t feel too cold or too hot. That way, they can focus on their work and productivity won’t be affected.”
With the development’s launch on the near horizon, it’s crunch time for Jen Huat and his team, as they race to get everything up and running before CapitaSpring opens its doors to tenants and the public.
“We are working hard and very excited for tenants to start occupying the building and exploring the facilities in CapitaSpring. To us, it’s all about making life easier for them.”
Where The Next Gen Rises
As the world pressed pause, they pressed on. Because they knew the only way was up. After all, CapitaSpring is not just built for a new generation of dreamers — it’s built by them too.
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