Tag Archives: SIT Flats

Exploring and documenting Dakota Crescent Estate

Dakota Crescent HDB estate, tucked away in the Eastern part of Singapore, just on the edge from the outskirts of the wider Central Business District of Singapore. A unique name that actually came from a Dakota aircraft and the links to Kallang Airport from the early aviation days in Singapore. Her flats were built by SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust), the predecessor of the Housing & Development Board (HDB) in the 1950s. With her roots going back to the British Colonial days, Dakota Crescent had an aura and charm, surrounded by fellow HDB blocks of different generations around her and also private housing not too far away from her too.


What’s the history behind the name Dakota Crescent? Researching on Google, a result came out on Wikipedia’s article – Kallang Airport. On 29th June 1946, one of the Dakota aircraft belonging to the Royal Air Force Police crashed with 20 NCOs on board at the Kallang Airport in a storm with no survivors. The nearby Dakota Crescent was named in commemoration of this disaster. Something for the history and aviation buffs, the Old Kallang Airport control tower is still around and it is located along Nicoll Highway, you can see from my photographs here when I visited it during Singapore Biennale 2011. There is a road named Old Airport Road that connects to Stadium Boulevard road, ending up at the new National Stadium and Indoor Stadium where the Kallang Basin is. This was part of the Old Kallang Airport runway if I am correct, I am still trying to find the maps/images for them!


I had been exploring Dakota Crescent over the years, visiting once in a while to this quiet and charming location. First and foremost, the one factor that attracted me that was the Old Dove Playground, that I went to visit, explored, photographed and documented in 2011. This was the most memorable Old Playground that I grew up playing in because it was right below my block of flats in Clementi when I was staying at my Auntie’s home during my primary school days. Whenever I visit and explore Dakota Crescent, I will always make a point to visit the Old Dove Playground and just climb up and down, to bring me back to my childhood days that were carefree and fun, without the stress and pressure.


This small housing estate is very interesting, not just the Old Dove Playground, Dakota Crescent had some wonderful and friendly cute cats! The lift that serves the Dakota Crescent block of flats is very special, so old and retro, if you are visiting Dakota Crescent, remember to take one of the old lifts and go up to the top floor to have a bird’s eye view of the whole area and landscape! Don’t be too scared by the old lift, it’s still working fine! There was an Old Provision Shop, Tian Kee & Co, that closed down not too long ago, I took a photograph of the exterior of the Old Provision Shop, the front porch of the shop after they closed their doors. Today, Tian Kee & Co is revived and brought back to life as a rustic cafe, do check them out on Facebook! I will visit them soon, to sit down and relax in the rustic, retro and quiet old Dakota Crescent estate! When I visit Tian Kee & Co, I will take the opportunity to take more photographs of Dakota Crescent and adding it to my Flickr collection!

What lies ahead for the future of Dakota Crescent? With Singapore’s thirst for land, redevelopment, commercialisation, modernisation and building taller skyscrapers, many places were gone forever. I hope that this part of Singapore’s history, the SIT flats can survive and we have a physical and tangible presence to tell the nation building stories to our future generations and beyond. Oh yes, we have to keep the Old Dove Playground, it is the lone surviving Old Dove Playground in Singapore currently!

Do visit Dakota Crescent estate and explore, it’s like going back in time!

Created with flickr slideshow.

Tiong Bahru Estate – Exploring the Old and New

Tiong Bahru, a Singapore heartland with a very rich and interesting history and development from her Colonial days and was part of Singapore’s pre-independence to her modern cosmopolitan hub of Old and New Singapore today. I remembered Tiong Bahru estate from my secondary school days when we would drop by the area, visiting friends and eating at Tiong Bahru hawker centre when it was just a single storey compound. National Heritage Board has a extensive and informative write up on Tiong Bahru, do visit the site! You can also find the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail that you can download as a pdf file and you can start to explore Tiong Bahru estate! Tiong Bahru also came into international limelight with a short film titled “Civic Life: Tiong Bahru”!


Over the years, I explored, photographed and documented the Old and New Tiong Bahru estate. New and modern eateries started establishing their businesses in the estate, transforming them into a hippy estate with a mix of the Old and New. Some traditional businesses such as the old provision shop decided to call it a day and a modern eatery took over the space. Such changes are inevitable considering the relentless fast pace of modernisation, economic growth, changes and retirements. I want to confess that I was disappointed with myself that I wasn’t able to photograph and shared about the traditional trades and businesses when they were still around.


Today, while many of the SIT flats in Tiong Bahru remained as it is, Tiong Bahru Market and hawker centre was revamped and transformed into a 3 storey building, with the market on the first floor, food stalls on the second floor and car park on the third floor. Tiong Bahru hawker centre has some of my favourite local Singapore and part of my exploration and documentation, the local Singapore hawker food forms part of my sharing too! Not too long ago, during September 2013, there was an event Happiness Served, it was about celebrating and recognising great service experiences for everyone involved – the service staff, the business owners and you. Happiness Served took place in Tiong Bahru estate and we had a fun time exploring the New sector of Tiong Bahru Estate.


Across the road from the SIT flats, the old HDB flats across the SIT flats were gone and replaced with newer and higher HDB flats. I used to recall that some of the older HDB flats were 4 stories high and only a few of the older generation HDB flats were left behind for memories sake. I was reviewing a number of cameras recently during the past year and I took the various review cameras down to Tiong Bahru Estate for a walkabout inside this nostalgic Singapore heartland.


What makes Tiong Bahru so special and unique? The interesting and unique SIT flats designs? The history, heritage, culture and humble beginning of Tiong Bahru Estate? Or the traditional, local Singapore flavour hawker food or the modern eateries inside Tiong Bahru? Or Tiong Bahru Estate is in your heart and soul from your growing up years?


Tiong Bahru Estate does have something that ties us to our Singapore’s history, heritage and culture. In her metamorphosis from the Old to the New, Modern and Future, Tiong Bahru Estate is a hub for the Old and New Singapore. Come explore with me the Old and New Tiong Bahru Estate through my photographs and stories!

Oh, by the way, do you know there is an Air-Raid Shelter in the heart of Tiong Bahru Estate?

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.