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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Chills and thrills

It will be an icy welcome for shoppers at JCube, whose angular design is inspired by ice cubes
The Straits Times - March 31, 2012
By: Kenneth Goh
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Chills and thrills -- ST PHOTOS: SAMUEL HE

After more than three years of waiting, shoppers who used to flock to the old Jurong Entertainment Centre can finally give a warm welcome to the mall that has risen in its place - the $165-million ice cube-shaped JCube.

The five-storey shopping centre opens on Monday and is set to be well worth the construction site inconvenience at the bustling Jurong East hub: It boasts Singapore's first Olympic-sized ice-skating rink, a multiplex cinema with the first Imax theatre in a suburban mall here and a roller-blading rooftop park.

Upping the 'cool' quotient is the mall's design, which takes inspiration from ice cubes, with a facade that resembles a glistening ice cube and an interior of angled lines and polygonal shapes.

The dramatic design will add a wow factor for its target audience - teens seeking somewhere to chill and hang out.

Another aspect that will get the young generation's approval: It comes with environmental-friendly features including a cooling system using cold water from melted ice shavings from the ice rink.

About 80 per cent of the shops and the rink will open on Monday at the 317,000 sq ft mall, which is within walking distance of Jurong East MRT station.

Its launch also marks the area as one to watch as an up-and-coming retail hot spot. Just opposite it, a family lifestyle mall called Westgate is being built and is due to open next year.

The two developments add to long-time mall stalwart, the nearby IMM Centre, which is owned by CapitaMall Trust and is positioned as a furnishings centre, with outlet retail stores.

JCube's owner is also CapitaMall Trust and it is managed by CapitaMalls Asia. JCube's general manager, Ms Callie Yah, says its target audience are those aged 15 to 35 years old.

She adds: 'These people, who frequent the tuition centres and Jurong Regional Library nearby, belong to the same group that will visit the mall's key attractions, the ice-skating rink and the cinema.'

The rink on level three covers a massive 19,400 sq ft. It can host sports such as ice hockey, speed skating and figure skating. Besides being open to the public for recreational skating, professional skaters can also get serious here.

Ms Yah says: 'We are working with the Singapore Ice Skating Association and Singapore Ice Hockey Association to hold training sessions and competitions.'

These sessions will be held outside rink operating hours. There are also plans to organise skating courses for students, such as a Learn To Skate programme with the Singapore Sports Council.

The super-size rink with real ice dwarfs the others here: The rink at Marina Bay Sands is made up of 6,500 sq ft of synthetic ice, while the one at Kallang Ice World at Kallang Leisure Park has 10,500 sq ft of real ice.

Mallgoers who used to hang out on the limited wooden seating at the old entertainment complex's rink will be pleased to know that this new one has 460 gallery seats spread across two levels.

What is more, they can easily eat and watch. Surrounding the rink at levels three and four are outlets including those of grilled-chicken chain Nando's, fast-food chain KFC and American grill restaurant Chili's.

There is also a standing area for the public to view the action on the rink below from the rooftop garden at level five - when they are not taking part in some action themselves, on the 11,000 sq ft roller-blading space there.

If that is not enough, there is a seven- screen Shaw cineplex including a 160-seat Imax theatre on level four.

Night owls can hang out at food and beverage outlets such as American-style bakery Pique Nique and Chinese restaurant Kungfu Paradise, which will open till midnight.

As well, the mall features more than five retail and food brands making their Singapore debut, including Japanese home furnishing store Francfranc, Italian eatery Capricciosa, Taiwanese restaurant Eat at Taipei, and Nana's Green Tea Cafe.

As for the mall's icy design, it was inspired, naturally enough, by the skating rink. Ms Meeta Patel, director of Benoy, an architectural firm behind this project's design, says: 'The use of angled lines in the mall's facade and interior reflects the fissures and grooves on crisp icebergs when they open up.'

Jurong residents welcome the new mall, which took two years to build after work was initially stalled for a year in 2008 amid the economic slowdown then.

Nanyang Technological University student Chan Hui Shian, 21, is glad that there is an alternative hangout to Jurong Point. The Jurong resident of 15 years says: 'I will look out for the variety of shops offered and parking situation, as it can get quite crowded there, but I will visit the ice-skating rink and cinema.'

Housewife Sulimah Salim, 50, says: 'I am quite excited to check out what this mall has to offer and I do not need to travel to Jurong Point in Boon Lay to shop.'

But will the area end up with too many malls? CapitaMall's Ms Yah thinks not, saying: 'We took pains to ensure that we differentiate the positioning of these three malls, so that they do not cut into each of its target audiences.'

Account executive Tan Wei Yuan, 24, is one who is looking forward to the mall's wider fashion options and the ice-skating rink. 'I used to only watch people ice skate at the old Jurong Entertainment Centre, as the place was quite rundown, but with a new rink, I plan to try skating with my friends there.'

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