Tag Archives: HDB

Counting down to the end of Rochor Centre

The time is finally catching up with the iconic Rochor Centre in Singapore. You can’t miss the 4 colours red, blue, green and yellow HDB blocks in the area, the colourful blocks stood out for years and they are easily identifiable. I started photographing Rochor Centre a few years ago, using her void deck as one of the examples for an article that I wrote “Void Deck – Our Cultural Communal Space” in 2012.

As the countdown timer started ticking in 2011 when the news to aquire the land was announced with 2016 being the year whereby they would have to move out and relocate to another HDB estate. In 2016, the residents of Rochor Centre slowly started to move away into their new home, the retail and commercial units below the Rochor Centre HDB blocks also started to find alternative locations for their businesses.

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I returned to Rochor Centre a few times for another article on Canon EOS World Singapore whereby I shared on photographing and documenting old places in Singapore that face “extinction”. In the Canon EOS World Singapore article titled “Exploring Singapore Heritage“, I covered Rochor Centre and Dakota Crescent areas. For the Dakota Crescent area, I would be writing another article on them soon.

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During early July, I went to photograph Rochor Centre with my Canon EOS M10 review unit for a site recce on photographing Rochor Centre from the outside areas before going down with my Canon EOS 1DX for my Canon EOS World Singapore article.

A few days ago on 12th November 2016, I had a quick walk around Rochor Centre, most of the residents, retail and commercial units had relocated to somewhere else. The rubbish and junk were piling up, there were a few different group of people exploring and taking photographs of Rochor Centre.

The NTUC Fairprice outlet at Rochor Centre put up a notice informing their customers that their last day of operation in that location will be 1st December 2016. This is an indicator on when would be the last days of Rochor Centre whereby everybody living/working there will move away, out from Rochor Centre. Once the curtain comes down, Rochor Centre will be boarded up before demolition begins, when exactly, I do not know yet at this time.

I would just continue to add more photographs to my Flickr collection on Rochor Centre, they will be memories for us very soon.

Counting down to the end of Rochor Centre, the end of an era.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Commonwealth Drive HDB Flats Blk 74-80

In the heart of Queenstown HDB estate, one of Singapore’s oldest (and first few) HDB estates in Singapore, there lies the Commonwealth Drive HDB estate. Although it is not the oldest HDB estate in Singapore, they have been around for a period of of time and been a part of Singapore’s independence with the provision of public housing in Singapore.

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Change is always constant, in life, whether it is applied on a micro level or macro level. Singapore had seen a huge number of changes to country, economy, infrastructure and landscape. In the quest for growth and expansion, it is inevitable that some of Singapore’s architecture and buildings have to make way for change, growth and expansion.

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News of Commonwealth Drive/Tanglin Halt HDB estate slated for re-development in the coming years were first announced in 2014. This part of Queenstown HDB housing estate is primed for an even bigger makeover since many changes and redevelopments had taken place in Quenestown district over the past 10 to 20 years. The HDB blocks 74 – 80 of Commonwealth Drive slowly started leaving their old homes and relocating to somewhere else. The 7 old HDB blocks of Commonwealth Drive soon turned into an abandoned housing estate, waiting for the final curtain to be pulled down on them, ushering them into history books, national archives, photographic and personal memories.

I decided to photograph and document the blocks 74 to 80 of Commonwealth Drive earlier on my own, the external facades and bird’s eye view of the Commonwealth Drive. Although I didn’t stay in these series of HDB flats, I was and I am still a heartlander at heart, these older HDB flats meant something to me and I still remember my after secondary school hours days in the Queenstown estate where Commonwealth Drive resides. During that one Saturday afternoon photography documentation, I photographed as many as I can while she was still standing there.

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On 3rd October 2015, there was a community event organised by heritage group, My Queenstown, known as the Commonwealth Drive Block 74 farewell event. This was the final farewell and hurrah to the 7 blocks of Commonwealth Drive. Visitors were able to visit some of the units in the block 74 and have a glimpse into the life of the residents of Block 74 Commonwealth Drive. There was also a photography exhibition by Nicky Loh held at Block 74 Commonwealth Drive during that event day itself. There were outdoor movie screenings, live music bands and food stalls.

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As the night falls on 3rd October 2015, I left the Commonwealth Drive estate of Blocks 74 to 80, thinking very hard in my heart and my mind. There were still questions going through my mind, what are the infrastructure, architecture, buildings that we need to preserve, conserve and protect, what are those that we need to make way for the growth and needs of the future generations?

Personally, this is a very difficult question that nobody is able to answer correctly and appropriately. While Singapore continues her progression and growth in her Golden Jubilee 50th year in 2015, she will have more of such questions to ask herself as she continues to strive and move forward into the future.

Sometimes, we have to accept that some changes are necessary for the sake for our future generations. However, we must also not make too many changes and destroy our history, heritage and culture that are key elements in Singapore’s future growth and maturity as a nation.

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As we start to progress and mature as a nation, we can all play a part and have a say, no matter how big or small our efforts are. We can voice our thoughts, feelings and concerns in a civilised manner, on the changes in Singapore that deserve our protection, conservation and preservation, that may otherwise would affect us and our future generations.


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Lego SG50 Limited Edition Mini Builds – HDB and Cable Car

Singapore is celebrating her Golden Jubilee in this year 2015! As part of the SG50 celebrations, Lego has produced SG50 Limited Edition Singapore Icons Mini Builds and there are four of them! The four icons are Cable Car, HDB Block, Ice Cream Bike and Old Dragon Playground!

I was very excited when I read the news on the Lego SG50 Limited Edition Singapore Icons Mini Builds and I was really looking forward to collecting them! All you have to do is to spend a minimum of $50 of Lego products in a single receipt and you can redeem the Lego SG50 Limited Edition Singapore Icons Mini Builds! Since I am going to invest in more Lego, I spent time thinking of what kind of Lego series am I going to invest in? After some analysis, I decided to continue collecting my Star Wars and this would be a good time to build up troopers!

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Till date, I have collected the Cable Car and HDB Block. The Cable Car can be redeemed only at Toys R’ Us at Vivo City branch from 6th to 31st July 2015 and the HDB Block can be redeemed only at Robinsons Shopping Centre at Raffles City from 6th to 20th July 2015.

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All you need to do is choose your Lego toys (it must cost at least $50 in total), make payment at the cashier. Collect your receipt and proceed to the Lego booth nearby inside the respective shopping outlet location. Pass them your receipt for verification, answer some simple questions and the friendly staff there will pass you a set of the Limited Edition Mini Builds! I encourage you to build it on the spot instead of bringing it home!

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For Lego fans, building the HDB Block and Cable Car is not difficult at all and the instructions are pretty clear and concise! I had a fun time building it on the spot inside the shopping mall outlet, Toys R Us and Robinsons!

The Ice Cream Bike is coming soon, from 11th July to 25th July, available at Lego Certified Store @ Resorts World Sentosa, while the Old Dragon Playground is available at Raffles City Shopping Centre, Atrium Level 3 from 21st to 30th July.

There is also a SG50 Lego Event from 21st to 30th July! More details can be found here!

The 4 x SG50 Limited Edition Singapore Icons Mini Builds are really cool and I love it!! I am on track to collect all of 4 of them!! Lego fans, don’t hesitate!! Head down to the following locations, remember the later dates for the Ice Cream Bike and Old Dragon Playground!

  • Cable Car – Toys’R’Us (VivoCity) from 6th July to 31st July
  • HDB Flat – Robinsons (Raffles City Shopping Centre) from 6th July to 20th July
  • Ice Cream Bike – LEGO Certified Store @ Resorts World Sentosa from 11th July to 25th July
  • Dragon Playground – Raffles City Shopping Centre, Atrium, Level 3 from 21st to 30th July

Have fun with Lego SG50 Limited Edition Singapore Icons Mini Builds !!

Void Deck – Our Cultural Communal Space

A population size of 5 million, in a land size of 710 square kilometer, Singapore is one of the most densely populated country in the world and 4 out of 5 Singaporeans live in subsidised high rise public housing apartments known as HDB (Housing and Development Board) flats.

From the various HDB designs, starting from the 1960s till the modern public housing designs today, there were many changes from the floor size, facade and designs. However, there is a common element among the HDB blocks, a space for communal, leisure, recreational and cultural activities, that is commonly known as here as void deck, found under the HDB block on the ground level while the apartments start from the second level. Our beloved void deck is of historical and heritage significance that holds many different types of memories, thoughts, happenings for different Singaporeans.

Old concrete tables and stools of Dover Close Estate

Do you recall you memories at the void deck? Childhood memories? Teenager/schooling memories? How was it like? Close your eyes, recall and reflect, what comes to your mind when you were a young child? Playing with your friends? My memories of the void deck were a lot on playing, lots of fun without the hassles and pressures of the modern society.

  • Playing football with friends and kicking the football against the wall, staining the walls with football prints was our trademark!

  • Running around playing Police and Thief, jumping around on hop-scotch.

  • Playing Chinese Chess or checkers at the round stone table

  • Sitting and chatting with friends after school, before returning home to do our homework

  • Cycling under the void deck and towards other friend’s block to meet them at their void deck

  • Buying freshly baked loaf of bread at a regular timing of 5pm daily, from the uncle with his ratten basket at the void deck opposite my block.

  • Buying sweets, tidbits, ice cream, frozen ice dessert etc etc from our favourite mamak (local provision) store

Residents bringing down their pet birds to the communal space at void deck, at Blk 430 Clementi Avenue 3

The void deck did not just serve my childhood memories only, it was a common communal space for all Singaporeans.

Communal Use

  • Residents Committee gatherings, events, chit chat corners, leisure corner with television, bringing down their pet birds for gatherings

  • Kindergartens

  • Police Post

  • Study corner

Private Use

  • Weddings

  • Funerals

  • Provision shops

Only in photos & memories – void deck at Blk 39a Margaret Drive, Queenstown Estate

All these memories of the void deck held on deeply to me, I grew up there, with lots of fun and happy moments. There were of course, sad moments too, having to attend funerals. The void deck was and still is today, a great space and location for community, friendship and bonding activities. Embarking on a personal mission, my personal project to cover Old Places and void deck, I asked friends this question “What are your memories of void decks?”

Here’s a few quotes

I’ve always found it funny that we called our void decks, “Void Decks”, What does “Void Deck” even mean? Who coined such a term? In any case, “Void Deck” is something to me that is “Uniquely Singapore” (hi STB’s old tagline), because no where else in the world is the ground floor of a block of flats called a “Void Deck”.

To me, a memory of our HDB Void Decks are the old checker stone tables in the middle of the Void Deck, where the elderly hang out to play a game of checkers. Come to think of it, I actually have not seen anyone actually play checkers, but rather have only seen these elderly, with one leg propped on the stone bench, the other on the ground, sitting there eating gua zi, drinking a kopi-gao, and conversing in a dialect I don’t dare say I comprehend completely.

Another memory of our HDB Void Decks are the bird cages that adorn the “ceilings” of our void decks, where bird-lovers young and old bring their birds on a Sunday morning to share in the joy of a bird’s melodic song, or simply to say “my bird is nicer than yours”.

Daphne, early 20s

Void decks can be a reflection of happiness, or even the other extreme: the loss of a life. This is what makes our void decks special, a common space for Singaporeans alike to hold celebrations or to mourn for their deceased loved ones.

Charmaine, late teens

My memories of void decks are that it used to be more vibrant; it being the playground for kids, chatter zones for aunties and rendezvous for major festivities involving the HDB.

Andrew, early 20s

Different individuals with different backgrounds, they each have their own fond and interesting memories of the common void deck in Singapore’s landscape. Their thoughts and words showed what void deck meant to them, that I believe will resonate with you too! As economy and society progressed at such a fast pace, there were many changes to the lifestyle and activities from the past as compared to the current society today. The newer and modern HDB flats are differently designed and constructed, this the void deck below is a lot smaller than before. While those void deck at existing HDB estates, what was part of our childhood memories may not be there anymore. The bustling life of the void deck today is not like before in the older days.

Soon to be gone – Leisure corner at Blk 1, Rochor Centre Void Deck

Nevertheless, the void deck, it is uniquely Singapore, something that we can be proud of, an identity, space, icon that we created for ourselves. The void deck is not doubt a common space that encompasses historical, cultural, recreational, heritage and communal space for all Singaporeans from all walks of life. My memories of the void deck will remain in my heart forever, through the sharing of my void deck memories and thoughts, I am able to pass it on, the stories of our void deck in Singapore, to the present and future generations, and friends around the world too!


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

This blog entry is written in support of NHB’s third community heritage exhibition on void decks entitled “Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces.” The exhibition highlights the history and development of void decks in the HDB heartlands, their common features and uses, and their role in providing shelter, building community and promoting racial integration. The exhibition is currently on display at the void deck of Blk 2, Saint George’s Road for the month of April before travelling to Marine Parade and over void decks around Singapore.

The Start of the End of Rochor Centre

An area on the edge of the Central Business District, near to Singapore’s early settlement days of shipping traders, with 4 colourful Housing Development Board (HDB) public housing flats, known as Rochor Centre, with bustling shops below them. Built in 1977, even today, with her 4 different colours, Rochor Centre is no doubt a unique icon in Singapore’s landscape.

Rochor Centre, her physical presence will soon disappear from Singapore’s landscape, having to make way for the North-South Expressway southern stretch,more details of the news here. The surrounding areas around Rochor Centre would be affected too, they would disappear together with Rochor Centre.

Counting down to the end of her days, she has fallen into my category of Old Places, disappearing Old Places, heritage, history and landmarks. Armed with my camera gear, I started my exploration of Rochor Centre, having a feel of this beautiful place, searching and finding locations within locations of Rochor Centre.

I will be starting to document more photographs and stories of Rochor Centre before it’s gone … This is the start of my documentation of Rochor Centre …

 

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

50th Floor Bird’s Eye View from Pinnacle Duxton SkyBridge

The word HDB, also known as Housing Development Board, is acronym that is closely related to the history, heart and growth of Singapore from her independence in 1965 till today. Many changes to the landscape of Singapore, from 1 bedroom to 2 bedroom public housing in the early days to the modern high rise public housing consisting of 50 levels that are wonderfully designed.

The Pinnacle@Duxton is the latest addition to the public housing estates in Singapore, next to the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District, with a skybridge on the 50th floor that spans an awesome landscape view of the Singapore Harbour, Central Business District, Chinatown and Western part of Singapore. Today was our maiden visit to the Pinnacle@Duxton, where our Cousin Joel had an apartment there and Cousin Brandon & myself arranged a time to drop by and visit !

When we were up there, the views were absolutely beautiful and magnificent, no wonder they received such good publicity and many photographers wanted to visit the skybridge too ! The blocks span over different views of Singapore and it’s a wonderful location for sunset photography ! The weather today wasn’t that good, there were lots of dark clouds engulfing the sky and there wasn’t much of a sunset. Nevertheless, three of us cousins had fun walking, enjoying and taking photographs 🙂

We later visited Cousin Joel’s apartment too and his unit had a clear view of the Chinatown ! Cousin Brandon & myself were sharing with Cousin Joel on the eateries around Pinnacle@Duxton and we promised to come back with a food adventure around his area along with another photography adventure !

Do check out the Pinnacle@Duxton website on the rules and regulations pertaining to Skybridge visit for visitors and residents. Hope you folks enjoy the photographs taken on a cloudy day in Singapore ! A 50th Floor Bird’s Eye View from Pinnacle@Duxton Skybridge !


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.