Friday, February 29, 2008

of Malacca trades

malacca escapade
blacksmith @ Malacca

Every vein on this old man tells the nuances of this age old town.

I love Malacca for the spontaneity of street side oyster omelette aunty who'd scrape off charred remnants onto the street marking her own "territory", for the blacksmiths like these who'd look sternly back at you if he spotted you with the camera whilst you watched admiringly at this strength in moulding those metalware despite his age, for the cats you see nua-ing against the exhaust of the motorcycles, for the laid back lifestyle.

Yet on the other hand, some parts have become too invested with tourist-seeking business, with souvenir shops and stalls that line up to the brim that sometimes, I become a lil apprehensive.

Ou Jian Aunty
Ou Jian Aunty! (aka omelette/Om lette Aunty)

Jalan Laksamana Spice Store
Grocery Store Owner, Jalan Laksamana

Typesetter at work in Melaka

Monday, February 25, 2008

of Malacca escapade

abandoned shophouse @ malacca
abandoned shophouse

Yes, the pro-conservationists were back in Malacca again! Updates soon once photos are sorted out. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Of Air View Towers

Air View Towers

The relatively unknownAir View Towers located in River Valley Road. Being sited on prime land in Singapore with close proximity to Orchard road and the city centre it was no sudden news that these low lying blocks were slated to be on en bloc very soon. Low lying yes but back in the 80s these were AIR VIEW towers with great views out sited on top of a hill, fast forward year 200, the views are blocked by double-digit story condominiums.

You may wonder why I posted these as something worth conserving. Afterall its poorly maintained, the huge open carpark can fit another condo or two , the building is your run off the mill stack upon stack of standard floor plans. Futura Apartments (the real architectural gem slated to be on en bloc too) looks way better on a site full of spanking new condos. So why keep it?

perhaps its the place where my grandaunt is living now, where my grandma used to live, where i spent much of my 3-4 years of childhood playing with the pigeons on the open carpark, running around the estate with my shirt off.

My parents left me here under the care of my grandma as both of them had to work. It was here I learnt how to dip dry biscuits in coffee, slingshot pigeons and just lie on the floor stomach down watching sesame street. Whatever i say now may not help in keeping this place around, my head tells me this place should go but the heart clings to this place dearly. Now that my paternal grandma has passed away more than 10 years ago, my grandaunt still lives here, she's planning to sell the place (for quite a hefty profit) so maybe this would be the last time i come over to visit during the new year.

Air View Towers

Air View Towers

Many families grew up here, by now their children have left to set up their own families. Only the older members choose to stay here, because the rooms are large, their friends are here and despite the location in the busy central business district, the place still exudes that old peaceful tranquility that you rarely find these days. Perhaps its the reason why not all owners can't agree on selling it. Sadly like most of the older units around, it will eventually go the way of the wrecking ball, with the high cost of living in the area and larger offer prices. lets hope i get to come here one more time for new year visits.

(after writing this, i feel this deep need go visit Amoy Street where my dad grew up before they moved here. The shophouses are still there, i know its mighty near the old ACS shophouse school. and not too far away from Thian Hock Kheng. how i wished they kept the shophouse)

Friday, February 1, 2008

of facadism

I had a chat with a friend over dessert and he brought up an interesting note about facadism. Facadism is perhaps a term mostly used to the practice of retaining the front face, or "skin" of an old buidling and affixing it to a newer, usually larger structure. Indeed, as much as this issue falls in the grey area between the conservationist and the developers, one cannot but agree that there is a problem behind this and there is a no right or wrong answer to this long debated question. This fundamentally bogs down to the issue of perceiving the value within each builidng, or even to the extent of the site quality in itself.

I do agree with my friend that it is superficial if not meaningless to merely retain the skin of the building and destroying what lies beneath it, or the spaces that are carved out to tell the story of lifestyle and qualities of life of the occupancy. It can almost be regarded as kitsch, to imagine streetscapes infested with themepark-like wallpapers, to even deceive the naive passerbys (or worst still native people) of what it was like 40 years ago (wil gasp to see a heritage-inspired architecture). On the other hand, I do admire the efforts of those who strike that balance (ok, I haven't found a nicer phrase to put that) and it serves as a pleasant surprise to walk into conserved buildings. The new functions that rejuvenates the builidng is something I look forward to, and I do mind those who's integrity is a lil shaken.