What Are The Types Of Commercial Building In Singapore?

An office building is the preferred choice of most entrepreneurs when searching for a place to house their business, and this interest has been rising over time. They mostly believe that an office building is the only qualified commercial building to accommodate its business activities.

However, office buildings are not the only type of commercial building in Singapore. There is an array of buildings eligible to house your business operations that comprise office functions; hence, you should not restrict yourself to the office building option. You can pick from the plethora of options available to you.

What Is A Commercial Building In Singapore?

These are buildings designed for commercial purposes; they include office buildings, shophouses, retail malls, and hotels. You must also understand that factories, warehouses, workshops, and other structures within this category are not classified as commercial buildings in Singapore. Rather, they are categorized under industrial buildings; this is the common practice in Singapore.

Some entrepreneurs and property agents who are not conversant with the commercial real estate sector get confused about a particular building type with an attractive design with spacious air-conditioned lobbies, modern glass curtain walls, full-height glass windows, and raised floor systems. They are in no way different from Grade A office buildings. In Singapore, these buildings are referred to as Business Parks and are categorized as industrial buildings. We will discuss further on this building type in a different section.

You may find commercial buildings with numerous functions in certain locations and they are typically referred to as integrated commercial buildings or mixed-use development. The Asia Square in Marina Bay and Duo Tower off Beach Road fit into this category.

Asia Square is a mixed-use building comprising a twin towers premium office space of more than 2 million square feet, a 5-star Business Hotel, a dual-level retail space spanning over 60,000 square feet and 100,000 square feet of green space linking the two towers to each other.

Would you like to find out more about commercial building in Singapore? This article will focus solely on the best commercial buildings to use as office spaces. So, let’s get to it.



In this section, we will discuss four building types of which two are under the industrial building classification but open to office usage.

1. Office Building

In Singapore, you can find numerous well-recognized and famous buildings in the world. But this would be incomplete if you eliminate the hundreds of office buildings located within and outside the CBD. Most of the office buildings you will find here are occupied by numerous tenants and they are mostly located in the Central Business District.

With the concerted efforts made by the government, there has been a rising decentralization of business activities. Areas outside the CBD, such as Jurong East, Buona Vista, Paya Lebar, Woodlands, and Tampines, have recently witnessed the sprouting of new office buildings.

Office buildings are grouped into three categories, namely Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C.

i.   Grade A Buildings: They are the most prominent and feature high-end finishes, up-to-date systems, easy accessibility, and unrivaled market.
ii.  Grade B Buildings: These buildings have adequate facilities but are fairly finished and are situated in a less appealing place. Some Grade B buildings are old Grade A buildings that have been renovated.
iii. Grade C Buildings: They are old office buildings and lack the necessary amenities.

2. Commercial Conservation Shophouse

Most entrepreneurs desire shophouses because of their rich heritage, historical architecture, and rustic charm; they beat the modern buildings to this game. If you are new to Singapore, there is a likelihood that you haven’t come in contact with shophouse office spaces, but they are common in the country. Most of these buildings were developed between the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century. They made up the old city center of Singapore before World War 2.

A typical shophouse has a narrow balcony and a covered corridor at the front for pedestrians. They are usually called the five-foot way. Shophouses feature open stairwells, courtyards, and skylight to illuminate and aerate the dimly-lit and narrow interiors. Depending on their time of construction, different shophouses in Singapore have different architectural appeals.

Most shophouses are 2 to 3-stories high with a retail unit on the ground floor. The commercial spaces on the other floors are used as offices, and they are normally accessed from a stair at one side of the shop. Sometimes, you may have to access them through the shop below. Modern-day landlords have revamped most of the buildings by putting extra features like lifts to make the buildings more appealing.

You can find most of these buildings in Singapore’s central area, where most business endeavors are carried out. The most sought-after shophouse offices are located adjacent to the Singapore CBD. Since the rental cost for shophouses is 30% to 50% lower than normal offices within a location, it has become highly desirable because of its suitability and affordability.

3. Business Park

A business park is a landscaped area with many office buildings. Most of them are situated within the outer suburban areas. It is a bunch of mid-class modern industrial buildings with a scenic, revamped environment as well as a collection of amenities situated at the specially mapped-out suburban zone of Singapore. It has access to roads, parking, and landscaped gardens. The businesses that occupy the offices are mostly commercial enterprises.

Business parks is designed for knowledge-based and high-tech companies. As we discuss earlier, buildings in business parks are mid-class modern industrial buildings, hence, it houses most of the regional head offices of multinational tech giants and research and development departments of companies conducting biotech and biomedical researches. You can find quality office-like spaces and other facilities for rent within the business parks in Singapore but you must keep in mind the above information.

Financial institutions that process huge data such as the backend office that processes online transactions or credit card transactions, data analysis are qualified to house these departments in a business park. You can also find information technology and computing companies, and product design teams of companies since they utilize a computer, special software, and other technological resources to perform their works.

Since the business park is considered an industrial space, tenants are mandated to predominantly offer value-creation services. In this case, a minimum of 60% of the rented space has to be used for modern industrial activities. In contrast, administrative jobs and other related services will be done in the remaining 40% of the space.

As an example, you can find major business parks around Jurong East, Changi South and Pasir Panjang in Singapore. Business parks are highly sought after by tech firms and they are permitted by the government if they use at least 60% of the space for their qualifying business functions while the remaining 40% is used for supporting functions.

The typical industrial spaces are meant for manufacturing or enhancing products, but business parks allow their tenants to computerize their business activities. A good example of the activities is software development.

Because of the cheap rental cost of business parks compared to regular office buildings, many organizations have moved the eligible aspects of their businesses to these areas. The eligible services may include new media productions, technical support, product designs data processing, etc.

If you wish to move your company to the best business park, consider Mapletree Business City on the outskirts of the CBD, Changi Business Park in Eastern Singapore, International Business Park situated at Jurong East, and One North which is proximate to the Singapore Science Park.

4. Industrial Building

This category of industrial buildings is specialized but has been advertised to many businesses in a misrepresentative manner. Industrial buildings are not meant for every type of business to use as an office; therefore, you can’t just move into one and establish your business.

Industrial buildings that are fit for office usages in Singapore are limited to the thriving and development of certain types of businesses. These businesses are divided into two categories, namely e-Businesses and new media activities.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) states that e-Businesses and new media activities can be considered eligible for an industrial building, and each case will be individually evaluated. Examples of applicable business activities include telecommunications, internet service providers (ISPs), software development, media productions, call centers, industrial training, network programming, and other related industries. At least 60% of the space must be used for media-related activities and e-Business, while the other 40% will be used for its supporting operations.

You will find industrial buildings suitable for office use on the outskirts of the central area. They are closer to residential areas. If you are eligible to situate your business in an industrial office space, you can save up to 70% in rental costs compared to an office space in central Singapore.

Some of the high-quality industrial buildings are Aperia off Lavender Street, Alexandra Technopark on Alexandra Road, 18 Tai Sing located above the Tai Sing MRT station, Golden Agri Plaza next to Pasir Panjang MRT station, and Siemens Centre on Macpherson Road featuring an air-conditioner lift lobby with security counter, full glass windows and some even come with suspended ceiling and central air-conditioning during standard office hours.

As the new building materials appeared and construction technology is developed, traditional design meets the requirement of modern production technology. Distinctive features include a building with a full glass window, raised floor system, air-conditioner lobby with lift access control, suspended ceiling, light fittings, and central air-conditioner in a high-rise building. The quality of the industrial building can be improved by, interior design, proportioning, and division as well as the choice of structural elements.

Industrial buildings are of equal quality to a new and modern business park building since they possess the same characteristic of Grade A offices. Hence, business is qualified to rent such industrial space for offices like functions in e-business and new media productions

Have you been confused about the commercial building in Singapore to opt for? We are sure that the guide above has passed on the knowledge needed to make an informed decision. Make your selection and take your business to higher levels.

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