This comprehensive visual arts institution, designed by the French architecture firm Studio Milou in partnership with local outfit CPG Consultants, houses the largest public collection of modern and contemporary art in Southeast Asia. Comprising two adjoining early 20th-century piles, the former City Hall and Supreme Court, the National Gallery is a triumph of pragmatic restoration and repurposing of historic architecture. The original structure’s grand neoclassical exteriors have been preserved, with the two buildings now visually linked by a dramatic filigreed metallic veil that partially drapes over both from the roof to street level. ‘I wanted the roof to give rise to accessible analogies for the public, such as the fibres of natural weaves and designs; rattan or ikat – beautiful things conjured through a stunning design gesture,’ explains Studio Milou founder Jean-François Milou.

The bones of the original interior spaces – old courtrooms, light-filled marbled public corridors, timber-panelled judges’ chambers – have been carefully integrated into a sequence of generously proportioned galleries. Clocking in at around 64,000 sq m, the National Gallery now matches, in terms of size, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and Tate Modern in London. After you’ve viewed masterpieces by the likes of Georgette Chen, Hendra Gunawan, Liu Kang and Lim Yew Kuan, be sure to visit chef Julien Royer’s restaurant Odette on the ground floor. §