Chris Reed
Jul 5, 2012

Is Bugis+ the worst marketed and designed mall in Singapore?

For those of you wondering what the child like colourings at Bugis are, it’s Bugis+, previously known as Illuma. It has to be the worst case of a mall revamp in Singapore.Illuma opened with much ...

Is Bugis+ the worst marketed and designed mall in Singapore?

For those of you wondering what the child like colourings at Bugis are, it’s Bugis+, previously known as Illuma. It has to be the worst case of a mall revamp in Singapore.

Illuma opened with much fan fare in 2009. The eye catching "crystal mesh" facade envelops the convex part of the building and brightly-lit billboards scatter across its flatter sides. Its theme was apparently inspired by its proximity to arts venues and tertiary institutions.  It soon became the least visited mall in Singapore.

Overdesigned and without thought of footfall and how tenants would make any money it soon was left bare and empty as no patrons meant no money for the retailers who quickly left in their droves.

The only level that was ever full was the cinema/foodcourt levels which isn’t hard in a city where eating out is a daily religion and cinema going is a weekly one.

As Illuma became more like a retail ghost town the owners clearly decided that something had to be done. Knocking it down would have been my answer.

Illuma, sorry Bugis+, is across the road from the very busy Bugis Junction so why go across the to Bugis+ when your more than well served by Bugis Junction?

Bugis+ is next door to Bugis Street, the famous market with hundreds of different discount stores so why visit a mall with pricey clothes in when you can get discounted t-shirts next door? Also the market for the Bugis Street is too downmarket for the kind of stores and prices in Bugis+. If the planners really thought they would attract people to go from cheap to expensive they needed their heads examined.

The previous management tried to draw in patrons by calling in international artistes such as David Archuleta and Trace Bundy.DOH! Why would that make a difference?

Design does not trump functionality, location and content. No one cares who designs it, they care about where it is, what it has in it and how easy it is to get there.

Clearly the new owners, CapitalMall, thought that the problem was the name, Illuma. Well yes ridiculous name. But Bugis+? Really? Is that the best that you could come up with? Why not FaceBugis or BugisBook? Equally silly names. It’s not the name it’s the structure, the design, the location and the lack of any compelling and exclusive stores.

The new logo has not helped. It does look as if it was designed by a primary school student. It’s appalling. Is anyone taking credit for this design splurge that probably cost nothing and looks like it. Is that supposed to attract the youth to a venue which is not sexy and not convenient? It’s not the name dummies!

The revamp PR claims that it will have 90 outlets and more focus on entertainment but even though the owners must have paid both McDonalds and Uniqlo (who have their largest store in Singapore at the new mall) to become tenants it doesn't get over the basics which are wrong.

It’s in the wrong place with poor street traffic and has no reason to visit versus any other mall in Singapore. Bugis MRT feeds people to Bugis Junction. No one crosses the bridge from one to the other as no one knows about the bridge!

It’s a classic case of design over functionality and the marketing is not exactly helping. There is too much space to walk around and no worthwhile shops to visit.

Any outlet there is everywhere else in Singapore. There is nothing exclusive or compelling. Sighting a McDonalds in the basement across the road from another McDonalds shows their desperation.

The best thing to do with Bugis+ is to knock it down and make more HDB's or a new hotel or a theme park.......oh it is already its a Ghost Town......


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