View images of iconic buildings from early Singapore at local photographer Darren Soh’s new exhibition

Tanglin Halt estate. Photo: Darren Soh
Tanglin Halt estate. Photo: Darren Soh

With en bloc fever sweeping the country, it seems that more and more structures from Singapore’s early years are slated to be torn down to make way for sleek, shiny new buildings that don’t quite possess the same kind of cultural charm.

Pearl Bank Apartments, People’s Park Complex, Golden Mile Complex, and Golden Mile Tower are some names Singaporeans are familiar with — but just how much do we actually know about these iconic structures, besides what they look like and who they house?

People’s Park Complex. Photo: Darren Soh

To start a dialogue about these buildings that will be demolished or have already disappeared, well-known local photographer Darren Soh directs the spotlight on them for his new solo exhibition, Before It All Goes: Architecture from Singapore’s Early Independence Years.

Fifty images will display in the August showcase, most of which are making their public debut, including sites like the aforementioned four, plus Bedok and Buona Vista Swimming Complex, Queenstown Cinema, Tanglin Halt Estate, and Rochor Centre.

Rochor Centre. Photo: Darren Soh

According to Soh, “these are buildings that were erected in the early 1960s and largely designed by local architects, during a time when Singapore was embracing its newly found nationhood. Their disappearance will signify the loss of a large part of Singapore’s architectural history.”

As a conversation starter, Soh will host an artist talk and a seminar on architectural photography in September, to get people talking about their “shared social memories of spaces and structures, and the evolving role of redevelopment”.

Former Queenstown Cinema. Photo: Darren Soh

To complement the exhibition, Soh is also producing a monograph of the same name, featuring images from the show, extra photos of the eight sites and HDB estates that were built in the ’60s and ’70s, and essays by writer Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, architectural historian Yeo Kang Shua, and himself. If that sounds like something you’d collect, take note that only 1,000 copies will be printed (pricing to be revealed later).


Before It All Goes: Architecture from Singapore’s Early Independence Years is on from Aug 23-Sept 29.
Objectifs, Chapel Gallery, 155 Middle Rd. 

Tues-Sat noon-7pm, Sun noon-4pm.
MRT: Bencoolen/Bugis

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