Pearl Bank’s looming demolition sparks soul-searching

Keshia Faculin23 Feb 2018

Pearl Bank Apartments

With Pearl Bank serving as a reminder of Singapore’s intense development following its independence in 1965, the horseshoe-shaped tower block’s looming demolition has sparked soul-searching on whether enough effort is being given to protect the city-state’s recent history, reported AFP.

Constructed in a 1970s style, the 37-storey tower emerged as the tallest residential building in Singapore when it was completed in 1976.

As the first skyscraper in the city-state’s Chinatown, the building became the model for high-rise living in Singapore and across Southeast Asian cities.

However, the iconic 280-unit apartment building was sold earlier this month for S$728 million to a developer, who intends to build a modern, high-rise residential building on the site.

“The buildings that were built just after independence were a reflection of the aspirations and hopes of a new nation,” said Darren Soh, a photographer who has been documenting Pearl Bank along with other buildings from the same period.

“If we tear all these down, there will be nothing to remind us of the era.”

And while some publicly-owned buildings from that era have been listed as national monuments, no privately-owned residential blocks from such period are being conserved, said Ho Weng Hin, from architectural conservation consultancy Studio Lapis.

But given the growing number of complaints on ageing lifts and leaking pipes at the development, Pearl Bank residents, who backed the sale, noted that conservation was not practical due to the high cost.

“A lot of the people calling for conservation are outsiders looking in but if you lived here yourself, you’ll understand the difficulties,” said 68-year old resident Marie Lim.


This article was edited by Keshia Faculin.


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