Tan Kah Kee MRT station

Tan Kah Kee MRT station is an underground Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station on the Downtown Line (DTL) in Bukit Timah, Singapore. Located directly underneath the campus of Hwa Chong Institution (HCI), this station was named after the founder of the institution Tan Kah Kee. In addition to HCI, other educational institutions within the vicinity of this station include Nanyang Girls' High School, Raffles Girls' Primary School and National Junior College.

Tan Kah Kee
டான் கா கீ
Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station
DT8 Tan Kah Kee MRT Platforms 20210118 144732.jpg
Students at the platform level of the station
General information
Location651 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 266268[1][2]
Coordinates01°19′34″N 103°48′26″E / 1.32611°N 103.80722°E / 1.32611; 103.80722Coordinates: 01°19′34″N 103°48′26″E / 1.32611°N 103.80722°E / 1.32611; 103.80722
Operated bySBS Transit DTL (ComfortDelGro Corporation)
Platforms2 (1 island platform)
ConnectionsBus, taxi
Structure typeUnderground
Platform levels1
Opened27 December 2015; 7 years ago (2015-12-27)
Previous namesDuchess, Hwa Chong, Kah Kee, Watten[3][4]
November 20202,389 per day[5]
Preceding station Mass Rapid Transit Following station
Sixth Avenue Downtown Line Botanic Gardens
towards Expo
Singapore MRT/LRT system map
Singapore MRT/LRT system map
Tan Kah Kee
Tan Kah Kee station in Singapore

First announced as Duchess MRT station, it was renamed to Tan Kah Kee through a public poll in 2009. The name has attracted some criticism as the name was viewed as "misleading" and does not properly reflect the locality. In June 2013, Tan Kah Kee station was one of three stations affected by the sudden dissolution of Alpine Bau, which was contracted for the construction of these stations. Initially forecast to open in mid-2016, the station opened on 27 December 2015 along with the DTL Stage 2 stations. The station features two muralsGratitude and Resilience – created by HCI students as part of the network's Art-in-Transit programme.


Excavation works in the fourth quarter of 2012

The station was first announced as "Duchess" station when the stations on Downtown Line Stage 2 (DTL2) were revealed in July 2008.[6] The station name was finalised as "Tan Kah Kee" through a public poll in July 2009.[7] Contract 918 for the design and construction of the station and the adjacent tunnels was awarded to Alpine Bau GmbH (Singapore Branch) at a value of S$350 million (US$240.7 million) in September 2009.[a] Construction was targeted to begin in early 2010.[8]

During the construction, the 10 m (33 ft) tall granite gateways for the Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) had to be dismantled and relocated temporarily.[9][10] Underpinning the gateways was initially considered, but it was figured that it will be unfeasible because of the extensive excavation for the station.[10] The arch consists of emerald-green tiles, which were first removed and mounted on temporary pillars located 40 m (130 ft) away, while the metal gates were removed.[9] The relocation was closely supervised by a safety and lifting team.[10] The gateways were later reinstated when the station was completed.[9][11]

The station has additionally affected about 15,000 m2 (18,000 sq yd) of the school campus. The sports complex was demolished while the Land Transport Authority (LTA) paid for the rent of the sports locations being used for the school's sports activities. A new indoor sports hall was rebuilt with a grant by the Ministry of Education and funds raised by the Singapore Chinese High School director board.[9][11]

Between July and August 2012, concerns were raised on the structural integrity of terraced and semi-detached residences of Watten Estate surrounding the station, with complaints of "hairline cracks" appearing on walls inside and outside the affected properties. The LTA made an inspection and reported that the houses were found to be structurally safe. Additional steps were taken to repair damages to the properties and stabilise the ground in the area.[12]

Contractor's insolvencyEdit

Construction site of the station as of March 2015

On 19 June 2013, the main contractor for the station Alpine Bau went bankrupt.[13][14][15] The sudden insolvency caught the LTA by surprise, as the construction was going well by then.[14][15][16] Described to be an "unprecedented situation",[15] the LTA immediately took action to salvage the situation. A security firm was employed to protect the sites and the incomplete structures, while the LTA worked with experts to preserve the tunnel boring machines and recharge wells. As the LTA tried to seek a new contractor, the LTA temporarily appointed McConnell Dowell South East Asia, the contractor for Beauty World station, as the caretaker contractor to carry on tunnelling works. Through engagement with the Ministry of Manpower, the 400 workers who were affected were reassigned or sent home.[16][17]

On 29 August 2013, the LTA announced the appointment of two new contractors for Tan Kah Kee and the two other stations.[18] The contract for the completion of Tan Kah Kee station and associated tunnels was awarded to SK E&C (Singapore) at a contract sum of $222 million (US$177 million).[18][19] The contractors were appointed just eight weeks after the insolvency, whereas usually, a tender needed at least six months for evaluation and processing. The quick appointment was to reduce the delay for the completion of DTL2.[20]

To speed up the construction as much as possible, manpower for the construction of these stations increased by 25%, with workers taking up additional graveyard shifts so that works could keep going throughout the day and night. To reduce inconvenience to residents, rather than using conventional breakers, quieter wire saws were utilised to break up the concrete struts.[16][21]


Concourse level of the station

On 28 June 2015, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew announced that the DTL2 would be opened earlier,[22] with the works 95% complete.[21] The LTA managed to bring forward the completion as the staff worked through many weekends and "sleepless nights". The engineers were reported to be "equally proud and relieved" of the achievement and they were credited for their cooperation and hard work.[21] In August that year, Lui announced that the DTL2 segment would open on 27 December 2015.[23][24]

At the DTL2 open house on 5 December 2015,[25] the LTA was informed by netizens that the Tamil translation of the station was incorrect. The LTA apologised for the error and corrected the spelling.[26] The station opened on 27 December along with the other DTL2 stations.[27][28]

Station detailsEdit


Exit A of Tan Kah Kee station, which is directly outside Hwa Chong Institution

The station was provisionally named Duchess, after a nearby road. In August 2008, when the LTA was seeking suggestions for the DTL2 station names, there surfaced a campaign online for the station to be named "Hwa Chong" after the school, although LTA stated that station names should not be named after public structures. While some HCI students and the surrounding residents criticized the campaign as being too "narcissistic" and "unfair", it was supported by other students of HCI and the other surrounding schools, who argued the school had been a part of Singapore's history for eighty years.[29]

Following the consultation exercise, the LTA shortlisted two other names in addition to the holding name – "Watten" and "Kah Kee".[4] "Kah Kee" was eventually chosen through the public poll, although it was subsequently changed to the then-current name "Tan Kah Kee", after the HCI's founder and philanthropist Tan Kah Kee. This came after the school board suggested adopting the full name, as they felt "Kah Kee" did not reflect the "historical significance" of the founder, as well as reflected a concern that it sounded too similar to kaki, a Malay word for leg.[30][31] Then-principal of the school Ang Wee Hiong hailed the station name as a "tribute" to their founder and many HCI students were quoted as saying the station name was something to be "proud of".[31] The name was also praised for recognising Tan's selfless contribution to the local education and the Chinese community as a businessman, community leader and philanthropist.[30] A road within the school was also named after the founder.[30]

The name, however, has attracted criticism. Ang Swee Hoon, an associate professor at the NUS Business School, said that the station might not be meaningful to those who did not graduate from Hwa Chong and was unlikely to foster any "appreciation" to the philanthropist's contributions. He added that an MRT station should be named after where it was located, similarly to in marketing, where he said a product's name should be reflective of its quality. Ang also indicated that the name might be even more perplexing should Hwa Chong move from its current location.[32] A journalist from the Straits Times and a student from HCI, Jeremy Au Yong, has also criticised the station name and the new scheme of naming stations, saying that there was now no direct link to the station name and its location. Au Yong has also warned that the name could set the precedent for stations being named after "glamorous cities", "aspirational goals", "abstract ideology" and "corporate sponsors".[33] The LTA defended the station naming by saying it had been one of the shortlisted names which was able to reflect the area's history and heritage while attaining the most votes through the public poll. However, it agreed that station names should be "commuter-friendly" and pledged to consider public feedback and seek more meaningful names in subsequent naming exercises.[34]


The station is located along Bukit Timah Road and is partly underneath the HCI campus.[1][2] In addition to HCI, the station serves other schools such as Nanyang Primary School, St. Margaret's Secondary School, Nanyang Girls' High School, National Junior College and Raffles Girls' Primary School.[35] It is also close to the two retail centres of Coronation Plaza and Crown Centre, and the two other landmarks of Poh Ming Tse Temple and Kuan Yin San Temple.[35]


Tan Kah Kee station serves the Downtown line (DTL) and is situated between the Sixth Avenue and Botanic Gardens stations. The station code is DT8 as reflected on official maps.[36] The station operates between 5:44 am and 12:34 am daily,[35] with headways of 2 to 5 minutes.[37]

Station designEdit

A pedestrian overhead bridge linking to Exit B of the station

Designed by the architectural firms of SAA Architects and Ong & Ong, the station was intended to be a grand yet compelling structure, reflecting the youthful ingenuity of the students while also being mindful of the historical background. Additionally, the station was designed to accompany the existing greenery in the area.[38] The station has an "open, park-like" setting with clear geometric lines and green geometric panels giving the station a contemporary impression.[39][40] The entrances are designed with an overarching canopy to highlight the design theme of "nature and flow". The critical structures of the station – the pedestrian bridge, ventilation shafts and covered linkway – converge at the main entrance, rotated around a pivot. Vertical plants and planter boxes are placed around the station. The forms and textures of the station, which has random and orderly patterns of blocks, were inspired by the popular game Jenga.[38]

Station artworkEdit

As part of the MRT network's Art-in-Transit Programme,[b] two murals created by HCI students were commissioned for Tan Kah Kee station – Gratitude (named 饮水思源 in Chinese) and Resilience (自强不息).[42] The artworks consist of handwritten text regarding determination (for Resilience) or appreciation of those of the past and present (for Gratitude).[43] The texts for Resilience, when viewed from afar, dissolve into bands of white and yellow, creating what appears to be a "blazing sun" that shines throughout any circumstances.[41][42][43] Gratitude, characterised by its motifs of stormy waves,[41][42] was intended to reflect the principle of giving back to society,[44] "connecting" everyone to the rich history and cultural heritage of the area.[43]

Notes and referencesEdit


  1. ^ The contractor was also awarded contract 917 for the construction of Sixth Avenue and King Albert Park stations and tunnels.[8]
  2. ^ Public art showcase which integrates artworks into the MRT network[41]


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  2. ^ a b "Tan Kah Kee MRT (MRT Station) – 651 Bukit Timah Road (S)266268". www.streetdirectory.com. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Annex 1: Final Station Names" (PDF). Land Transport Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Downtown Line 2 Station Names Shortlisted for Public Polling | Press Room". Land Transport Authority. 10 October 2008. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Land Transport DataMall". mytransport.sg. Archived from the original on 21 August 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
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  8. ^ a b "LTA Awards 2 Downtown Line Contracts". Land Transport Authority. 23 September 2009. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016.
  9. ^ a b c d "Gateway to stay despite MRT works". The Straits Times. 17 July 2010. p. 22.
  10. ^ a b c Feng 2017, p. 97.
  11. ^ a b Feng 2017, p. 98.
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  13. ^ "Stage 2 of Downtown Line to open in first quarter 2016". TODAYonline. Archived from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  14. ^ a b Christopher Tan (25 June 2013). "Key MRT project contractor goes bust". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  15. ^ a b c Feng 2017, p. 72.
  16. ^ a b c Cheong, Danson (14 December 2015). "LTA duo keep DTL2 on track". The Straits Times. Retrieved 24 March 2021.
  17. ^ Feng 2017, p. 73.
  18. ^ a b Sim, Royston (29 August 2013). "New Downtown Line 2 contractor appointed, entire stage to be ready in mid-2016". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  19. ^ "New Contractors Appointed for Three Downtown Line 2 Stations". Land Transport Authority. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016.
  20. ^ Feng 2017, p. 75.
  21. ^ a b c Feng 2017, p. 76.
  22. ^ "Thumbs Up For Downtown Line's Earlier Opening". The Straits Times. 3 October 2014. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  23. ^ "The Rail Report: 12 Stations of Downtown Line 2 to Open on 27 December". Land Transport Authority. 6 August 2015. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  24. ^ Lim, Adrian (7 August 2015). "Phase 2 of Downtown Line to open on Dec 27". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  25. ^ Lin, Melissa (5 December 2015). "Downtown Line 2 opens to the public for the first time". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
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  27. ^ "LTA | News Room | News Releases | Downtown Line 2 is Coming to Town….this December". Land Transport Authority. Archived from the original on 4 September 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  28. ^ Jo, Yeo Sam (28 December 2015). "Thousands check out Downtown Line 2 on opening day". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  29. ^ "Next stop on Downtown Line: Hwa Chong station?". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  30. ^ a b c "市区线第二阶段9站名敲定 华中校门前新地铁站 命名为"陈嘉庚站"". Lianhe Zaobao (in Chinese). 17 June 2009. Archived from the original on 22 June 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2022.
  31. ^ a b "Station named after Hwa Chong founder". The Straits Times. 18 June 2009. p. 34.
  32. ^ "Playing the name game with MRT stations". The Straits Times. 13 January 2011. p. 38.
  33. ^ "Take MRT from Milan to communism". The Straits Times. 27 June 2009. p. 118.
  34. ^ "Tan Kah Kee topped public poll for station's name". The Straits Times. 21 January 2011. p. 28.
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  39. ^ "Project". Ong&Ong. 29 December 2020. Archived from the original on 14 January 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  40. ^ "Tan Kah Kee MRT Station". architizer.com. Archived from the original on 14 January 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
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  42. ^ a b c Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh (29 November 2015). "Art Galore on Upcoming MRT Downtown Line". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on 3 October 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  43. ^ a b c Feng 2017, pp. 92–93.
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External linksEdit