18 September 2010

"Lost" Singapore

We live in a society where change in the built-environment is constant and sometimes rather disconcerting. Singapore’s few remaining heritage buildings seem to disappear overnight, or are ‘upgraded’ into soulless lifestyle bars, like the Ann Siang Hill/Club Street conservation area. Anyone remember the houses along the original Pekin, Nankin & Hokien Streets before they were transformed into Far East & China Squares? I remember seeing them in 1996, boarded up before demolition /renovation, tired old octogenarians awaiting their fate. One could almost hear the ghosts of Singapore history whistling through them!

Ok, I admit I like the “beautiful decay” of old classic architecture, especially as a sketch artist. That’s one of the reasons I revisit Penang, where I lived from 1997-2000. When I look at these weathered & crumbling buildings, I think, “What stories those walls could tell!”

I went back into my earlier sketchbooks, to find what has “already been lost” in views of Singapore architecture, since I arrived here 8 years ago, and here are three: That classic corner shophouse at Ann Siang Hill Rd, and Club Street (now one of those dreaded
Lifestyle bars!) drawn in 2002; the original National Library on Ft. Canning hillside, drawn on the last weekend it was open in March 2004; and the last original river godowns along the Singapore River, drawn in 2007 (now the site is a large condo complex). I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to view and sketch these buildings, before they left us.

Anyone else have sketches of “Lost Singapore” to share with us too?