Farewell Pearl Bank: Residents move out of Singapore architectural icon ahead of demolition

The iconic Pearl Bank Apartments was Singapore’s tallest and most densely populated condominium when constructed in 1976. Photo: Coconuts Media
The iconic Pearl Bank Apartments was Singapore’s tallest and most densely populated condominium when constructed in 1976. Photo: Coconuts Media

Singapore’s Chinatown skyline will never be the same again.

This reality hit Singaporeans hard on April 30, which was the last day for residents to move out of the iconic horse-shoe shaped building.

It was sold to real estate company CapitaLand for a whopping S$728 million in February 2018 and is scheduled for demolition later this year.

The building was turned into a veritable dump as residents rushed to move out in April.

Watch the Coconuts TV documentary on Pearl Bank Apartments below. 

Many took to social media to mourn the piece of Brutalist architecture that has been a part of their memories for decades.

On Facebook, Luke Elijah Williams bid farewell to his “old friend”, adding that the Pearl Bank Apartments was home to his family for 36 years.

“Many of you shared fond memories, sacred space, and magical sunset views there along with us. Today is the final day of occupancy in the building before it gets demolished for redevelopment,” he said.

“Thank you for the enchanting memories. As this old magical tower crumbles, it paves the way for fresh starts and new chapters. Cheers to new beginnings.”

Popular photographer Darren Soh was among the last few to snap a photo of the building when nearly all the lights went off on Tuesday night.

Darren has been documenting the building since at least 2014, and had gone to Pearl’s Hill for a final look, after all the residents had vacated at 5pm and handed their keys to the management, he said.

“I made this photo tonight, and even without any lights left, Pearl Bank Apartments continues to stand as a silent sentinel, as if watching over Outram Park and Pearl’s Hill,” he said.

Darren also shared a slightly creepy information about the sole light that was still left switched on.

“The last remaining light is emanating from the public toilet on the level 28 void deck – which, if I remember correctly, operates on a motion sensor. (edit: OK maybe not considering how there isn’t supposed to be anyone left.)”

Meanwhile, others shed light on interesting pieces of information about Pearl Bank Apartments in their tributes. It appears that even the plants growing out of the wall cracks have created a special place in people’s hearts.

“What Will Happen To The Plants of Pearl Bank?” asked a He Shuming on Facebook.

And have you ever wondered why there are “pockets” of staircases protruding out of the building? Architecture enthusiast @gaatzaat explains on Instagram.

“The interior space of Pearl Bank Apartments is quite unique. The lifts serve every other floor, so the little staircases extruding from the wall give access to the skipped floors below,” the user wrote in a post.

Less than a year ago, Singapore also mourned the loss of Rochor Centre, another iconic development that had graced the Bugis district skyline. For those who are still coming to terms with that, saying goodbye to Pearl Bank Apartments has been a tad more painful.

“The sun sets on yet another iconic building in Singapore, as today marks the (deadline) for residents to vacate the building. I’m gonna miss seeing it on my walk to Outram MRT, just as I have missed seeing the Rochor Centre blocks since last year,” said @milliondollarguppy on Instagram.

As another building bites the dust, which other development could be next?

Just this week, speculations have been rife over the potential sale of Queensway Shopping Centre and its neighboring Queensway Tower.

While the en bloc process for Singapore’s mecca for sportswear is still in its infant stage, some are already preparing for the worst.

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