Category: Cities

Welcoming Tomorrow’s Hawker Centres

While I type these words on my laptop at a hawker centre, I can’t help but notice the uncles looking over from the next table. They are not the only ones. Passersby stare curiously, including the cleaner who slows down whenever she pushes her trolley by.

Maybe it’s how my sleek laptop stands out from the gaudy mustard table. Or how I had casually plonked this shiny aluminum slab on a plastic surface stained by kopi and teh. As the only customer using a laptop in the hawker centre, I stand out like a sore thumb. My back certainly feels that way from sitting on the stiff stool.

Read the full column in CUBES #85 (April/May 2017)

Handle With Care: Rajakumar Chandra on Little India

Protective of Little India’s authenticity, home-grown LISHA Chairman relishes the challenge of cutting through the chaos to keep this historic district thriving.

The recent hot-button question of whether Little India needs a makeover is not new to Rajakumar Chandra. The chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers & Heritage Association (LISHA) has been grappling with this issue in his decade long place making efforts for this district along Serangoon Road.

While some see Little India today as crowded and disorganised, he sees vitality and authenticity. Over the years of working with the URA and other government agencies to manage and sustain this conserved precinct’s vibrancy – a dedication that has led to him being conferred a Special Recognition prize from the Singapore Tourism Board and a Place Champion Award from the Place Management Coordinating Forum 1 in 2016 – Rajakumar’s approach of place-making in Little India is based on a simple philosophy: “Once you move away life, you can’t bring it back.”

Read the full story in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Skyline (6/2017)

Memories to Treasure: The Chan Siblings Remember Joo Chiat

Ambassador-at-large professor Chan Heng Chee and her brother Chan Heng Wing recall what life was like growing up at No. 125 Joo Chiat Place.

Its washed out facade, tinged in a patina of ochre and powder blue, and the fading “Lucky Book Store” signage stenciled just outside the entrance hints at the past lives of No. 125 Joo Chiat Place.

A modern family home today, this 1920s Transitional-Style shophouse is part of a row of conserved residences bounded by Everitt Road, Joo Chiat Terrace and Mangis Road. In 2013, it was lovingly restored by CHANG Architects and owners Low Junri and Denise Wong. The result is an award-winning design that reflects the almost century-old building’s history as a bookshop and home of families, an effort that garnered URA’s Architectural Heritage Award in 2013 and a jury commendation at the 2014 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards.

Two former residents were the Chans who lived in this double-storey building in post-war Singapore. Professor Chan Heng Chee, the ambassador-at-large with the Ministry of Foreign Ministry (MFA) and her younger brother, Chan Heng Wing, senior advisor at MFA, still recall fondly the fun times growing up in the neighbourhood with their two other siblings, parents and grandmother. Racing down the five foot way that connected the row of shophouses, going around the neighbourhood hustling mahjong kakis for grandmother, and cooling down in the tropical heat with ice balls from the coffeeshop down the block, Joo Chiat Place was a playground for the siblings born four years apart.

Read the full story in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Skyline (6/2017)