Saturday, September 29, 2007

Of MICA (or the Old Hill Street Police Station)

MICA, originally uploaded by jonolist.

Conservation isn't just keeping things the way they were, like the Old Hill Street Police Station which has been converted to the Ministry of Communication and the Arts. Simple use of colours on the facade breathes new life to an old building.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Of Golden Mile Complex #2

golden mile complex

Check out the air vent for the toilets that follow the staggering of the building form.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Of Golden Mile Complex

Pro Conservation visits Golden Mile Complex

Golden Mile Complex

Designed by architects; William Lim, Gan Eng Oon And Tay Kheng Soon of Design Partnership, Golden Mile Complex is a stepped slab building that housed apartments units on the upper floors and retail and office units below.

Linear City
Completed in 1973 on a strip of land between Nicoll Highway and Beach Road (that was once known as the Golden Mile, thus the name). In terms of public transport and accessibility, the building is serviced from the rear on Beach Road, instead of its frontage with Nicoll Highway, with a continuous pedestrian spine linking all buildings in the Golden Mile of Beach Road.

Vertical City

Golden Mile Complex: Atrium Rear

The lower floors contain offices and a retail mall, located within staggered atria to allow natural light into the heart of the building. Here's also where lots of people loiter around with the police often making rounds. A strong Thai community exist here with Thai eateries, dodgy Thai discos and a Thai supermarket. The smell of Thai food here is subjective, one half of proconservation loves the way it reminds him of Bangkok, the wonderous food and all, the other thinks otherwise. We all agree though that it makes one feel like a foreigner, much like Lucky Plaza on a Sunday.

Golden Mile Complex Lower Floor Commercial Space

The stepped design of the building gave each unit a balcony that offered panoramic views of the sea and enhanced natural ventilation. okay that's what the textbooks say, these days the views are sorta killed of by the expressway in front and natural ventilation lost out to air conditioning during the 80's. The way each homeowner has personalized their home does give the building a quirky look. Over the years it has become a unique entity, a sign of the individual's non-conformity to the status quo, or maybe in Singapore its all about telling your neighbor whose home is the coolest.

Golden Mile Complex

Apologies for the lack in pictures, the top floor (16th) views were amazing...and then we got caught by security, who were just plain stupid thinking that we at pro-conservation are terrorist. Hey man, your gonna lose your job when this baby goes en-bloc, were on your side here okay.

Golden mile Complex

the Golden Mile Complex is an exemplary type of "megastructure" described by architectural historian, Reyner Banham

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Of Pearl Bank Apartments

Pearl Bank Apartments By Tan Cheng Siong of Archurban Architects Planners.

Pearl Bank Apatrtments

Completed in 1976, Pearl Bank Apartments may have been the tallest residential building in Singapore and possibly Southeast Asia (113m). Located in Chinatown with its other prominent neighbor, the People's Park Complex. Sitting on Pearl's Hill, the elevated building just outside Outram MRT station bears a distinctive horseshoe shape which shields its internal stairwells and common corridors from the elements while its external face provides breath taking views of Singapore's urban landscape.

Pearl Bank Apatrtments

Pearl Bank Apatrtments

The 38 story high rise apartment has 272 units with three types of split level units. 48 two bedroom, 184 three bedroom and 40 four bedroom apartments with an additional 8 penthouses on the top floor. Its complex unit arrangement gives each occupant a unique experience. Some have different views of the city dependent on the floor and location on the 3/4 circle floor plan. Some have external stairwells that only run into their unit providing them with private "back entrances".

Pearl Bank Apatrtments

The mid level holds a large open corridor space. This 28th floor open floor once contained mid floor stores and even a common library. Currently its underused and the only time its open for the residents is for viewing fireworks during National Day. There were plans to convert them to more apartments given its generous double volume space but the idea didn't come through. The money raised from the sale of more units could have gone to maintaining the building, which it is in dire need of due to old age and wear and tear.

Pearl Bank Apatrtments

As of writing, Pearl Bank Apartments has been put on en-bloc and the results of the tender for this site will be out on 18 September 2007. Lets all hope this deal fails and residents will be able to see how much more its worth preserving and maintaining this jewel in Chinatown rather than tearing it down.

Pearl Bank Apartments

On a personal note if this building still stands in 30 years time I really would want to live in a unit (preferably a 38th floor penthouse like that of Mr Ed Poole's, whom i would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for showing me around the apartment and letting me in his beautiful home)
Do visit his practice's website at
(his 6 man firm is in his home, yes the penthouse is very big!)
and do support his efforts in stopping the en bloc sale of Pearl Bank Apartments at

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

On spontaniety

“Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.” - Rolly May

spiral stairs @ tiong bahru
spiral stairs of Tiong Bahru SIT flats

When you see little delights like this, the innovation and the spontaniety that personalizes corners as such, you'd almost imagine the personalities of those occupants. I wonder how it feels like standing at that little corner where dishes are placed to dry, and where your vision is somewhat concealed by the vegetation that sprouts from the sides of the walls. There's even a small roof extention to the wall!

Monday, September 3, 2007

On People's Park Complex

I remember my grandma and me taking a bus down from River Valley to shop here. She would buy jewelery and herbs while holding onto my hand tightly, fearing that she would lose me amongst the crowd that packed the stores during the day. I didn't really enjoy going there then, there were no toys, I had to sit in herbal stores all day, but I do remember the food, it was good and I grew up on the carrot cake there.

People's Park Complex

A Large mixed used development with offices and high rise apartments over a podium shopping space. Constructed in 1967, designed by Design Partnership (now DP Architects) that was just set up by William Lim with Tay Kheng Soon and Koh Seow Chuan. Located at the foot of Pearl's Hill (within viewing proximity of another architectural gem: the Pearl Bank Apartments), People's Park Complex sits in the very heart of Chinatown and was once the largest shopping complex on Eu Tong Sen Street.

People's Park Complex

"Its name as well as the block of flats was the closest to Le Corbusier's ideal of high-rise living, as expressed in his Marseilles Unité d'Habitation, both in concept and in form"

Jane Beamish, Jane Ferguson (1989), A History of Singapore Architecture: The Making of a City

People's Park Complex

The original exterior finishing of the building was exposed raw concrete (ref Brutalist Architectural Style) but has been receiving several paint jobs constantly over the years. Currently, its green and orange but personally i rather the Béton brut.

The authorities should really look at Boston City Hall to see how beautiful raw concrete is. A paint job doesn't really do any good, let alone the choice of mismatching colours, but that's just personal taste.

People's Park Complex

Multi-storey interlocking atriums, "City Rooms" that bring the bustle of a busy chinatown street indoors. A first in Singapore architecture back then and now a common sight in almost any Singaporean shopping centre.

ref 1960's Metabolist Movement by Japanese Architects

"But we theorised and you people are getting it built!"
Fumihiko Maki , who visited the site during its construction

Walking back there now reminds me of those older times, where this was the place to be (and not Orchard road).That feeling of nostalgia although cliché overwhelms me. Its worth paying a visit here to soak up the atmosphere and feel the hustle and bustle of 1960s Chinatown.

Lets all just hope its survives the en bloc rage that continues to destroy the more 1960's architectural gems

Sunday, September 2, 2007

On 157 Neil Road

neil road shophouse elevation

Shophouse rules!
As I walked past the 157 Neil Road shophouse that NUS acquired and is currently undergoing the phase of renovation, I felt a greater impulse to acquire one myself next time! Ah, I wonder to what extent would this existing one take on a new layer of skin and how much traces of stories that we can undercover after this phase is completed.