The end of anything is rarely pretty, but Singapore’s iconic Pearl Bank Apartments definitely isn’t getting much of a swan song on its way out.
Just three weeks before residents of the building are to move out ahead of its demolition later in the year, the horse shoe-shaped condominium — Singapore’s tallest, most densely populated condo when constructed in 1976 –has been turned into something of a rubbish dump.
On almost every one of the building’s 37 floors, trash piled above head-height blocks access to service elevators, in some cases blocking corridors and fire escape stairwells.
Coconuts Singapore found broken glass, fiberglass and waste food strewn on the floor by rubbish bins, as residents dump the contents of their apartments as they move out.
Refrigerators, washing machines, sofas, cupboards, mattresses, and splintered plasterboard used to divide apartments into smaller units litter the place, which is starting to resemble the aftermath of a tsunami.
About half of the apartments in the building are still occupied, mostly by residents on short-term contracts.
The building must be cleared and cleaned before it is handed over to the new owners, Capitaland, which acquired Pearl Bank following a S$728 million en bloc sale in February 2018.
Residents must vacate the building by the end of this month.
Pearl Bank management’s requests for residents to hire contractors to remove their unwanted items, posted on walls and in lifts all over the building, appear to have been ignored.
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” said Kym Ong, a resident of Pearl Bank for 40 years. “These people [dumping their trash] are plain inconsiderate. It’s a health and safety hazard. Emergency exits have to be kept clear and unobstructed at all times.”
Pearl Bank’s management told Coconuts they are trying to deal with the “illegal dumping” problem as quickly as they can, and have hired five extra staff to clear the mountains of rubbish. There are currently just two cleaning staff for the whole building.
“We have tried to clear the areas regularly, but the next day rubbish has piled up to the ceiling again,” a spokesperson from Pearl Bank Apartments management said.
Located in Outram Park, Pearl Bank is one of Singapore’s most famous residential buildings, the unmistakably bizarre, brutalist creation of revered architect Tan Cheng Siong.
One resident, who preferred to remain nameless, said he has noticed that the building had rapidly gone into disrepair since the announcement of the en bloc sale last year.
Cracks have appeared in the walls and the building’s chronic dampness issues worsening, with leaks found on most floors and creeping damp seeping through the walls.
“It’s like when people retire. They age quickly,” he said.