WATCH: The people and the stories behind Singapore’s soon-to-be demolished landmarks

Screengrab from video
Screengrab from video

The Singapore that we know now is a mix of charming old-school buildings and sleek skyscrapers. But at the rate we’re moving towards redevelopment, most of these architectural structures from our country’s early years may only live on in our nostalgia.

Iconic local landmarks like Pearl Bank Apartments, Rochor Centre, and Tanglin Halt Estate have slated to be torn down (or are already in the process of demolition), which makes what local photographer Darren Soh is doing even more poignant.

His latest exhibition at Objectifs spotlights images of buildings constructed from the 1960s to the 1970s, featuring HDB facades, commercial structures, and public places. It’s like being flooded with memories of old Singapore, when you view the photos of the former Queenstown Cinema, People’s Park Complex, Golden Mile Tower, and the swimming complexes in Bedok and Buona Vista.

Yesterday, Soh also shared his #BeforeItAllGoes documentary on Facebook, urging netizens to circulate the 18-minute video, which delves into the people and the stories behind these buildings that have been targeted by en bloc sales.

“Some of these landmarks play a very important role in that moment of history; one could get a better understanding of where we are,” explains Zarch Collaboratives’ principal architect Randy Chan, one of the interviewees. “Once you erase it all, you can build another building, but it’s never the same. Having said that, development is inevitable. We want development, so that the city grows also.”

It’s a compelling look at some of Singapore’s familiar architectural icons, with insights from residents of Pearl Bank and Tanglin Halt, as well as tenants of Golden Mile Tower like The Projector and Zarch Collaboratives.

Soh leaves viewers with a question to ponder over: “These buildings that were built just after independence were a reflection of the aspirations and hopes of a new country. As we tear down building by building, what will remind us of that era?”

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