Capella is the third brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere: it is also the name of a hôtellerie collection in Asia. Here is a review of Capella Sentosa, Singapore
Capella is the star with the most energy in the constellation of Auriga and, after Arcturus and Vega, the third brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere. The mission of the Capella hotel collection is to find the same light. On the south coast of Sentosa island, the last outpost of Asian territory going south towards the Equator, Capella Sentosa Singapore is an architectural design by Norman Foster. It is inspired by the former military buildings of Tanah Merah.
To the restored central body in colonial style – a rigid white parallelepiped, with wooden shutters and balconies, in line with the most classic tradition of late 19th century imperialism – Foster and Partners has added a sculptural, soft, curvy structure. It looks like it’s in motion, like a computerized graphic flow, amidst oranges and greys, punctuated with horizontal lines and cuts.
The courtyard runs down a staircase to then open out onto the first terrace, amidst sofas in modern wicker and oases of cushions – and down again to the restaurant and the swimming pool on different levels – each one a pool with natural curves like paddy fields, down to the woods, and as far as the sea.
Sentosa is an island of 500 hectares south of Singapore. Relatively unheard of, Sentosa grew commercially until the breakout of the Second World War. It became a British military base and was later taken by the Japanese army: during the war, the Japanese showed their cruelty by massacring those who sided with the English. At the end of the conflict, the British government gave the island to Singapore.
It is home to hotels, upper middleclass residences, a port that could be Montecarlo and artificial beaches that in Asia spring up where there was once nothing. In front, the South China Sea, dotted with a resident mercantile fleet, a floating city stretching as far as the coast of Malaysia.
Capella Sentosa is surrounded by greenery without tarnishing the building. The garden is a natural treasure, with age-old trees and typical local vegetation, protected by law. The Common Pulai is a plant that exists only in Singapore: thirty meters high, oval leaves and white flowers: traditional local medicine uses its leaves as a cure for fever. Another plant, Angsana, is typical of southeast Asia and was introduced to Singapore over the years. Amidst the vegetation in the garden of Capella are works by the sculptor Bernar Venet – conceptual installations knotting pipes and metal wire into what the artist defines as ‘indeterminate lines’.
Set around the garden are the villas: with iron roofs whose copper stripes have turned emerald green with natural oxygenation from rain and mildew – a pathway runs down the hill to the beach which is not part of the facility but, open to the public, is crowded and purposely distant from the hotel where one wants to quickly return.
The upper suites of Capella Sentosa have a sitting room, bed, walk-in closet, bathrooms. A terrace runs right along the building – in the evening mercantile ships light up their navigation lights – and almost like a caption, fireworks rise up into the air. It is nothing more than a peaceful definition of Singapore.
The Knolls 1, Sentosa