Modernist Singapore Architecture: People’s Park Complex

Modernist Singapore Architecture: People’s Park Complex

Looming above the low rise shophouses of Singapore’s Chinatown stands the mighty modernist slab block of People’s Park Tower, an unmissable icon of Singapore’s early post independence architectural design.

People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon

Completed in 1973, People’s Park Complex was the first the first large scale mixed use development of its kind in Southeast Asia, and a trend setting development which encompassed live/work/play under one roof.

People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon

Arranged around two interlocking atria, the designers envisaged a “Shophouse City” echoing the bustling informal streets surrounding the lost Pearl’s Market – a market which previously occupied the site, before being destroyed in a fire.

People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon

Lower floors are occupied by shops selling various wares, with upper floors dominated by travel agencies, remittance and massage parlours. A large event plaza is often in use, attracting large numbers of the pioneer generation who live in the surrounding, aging HDB flats.

People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon

The large Chinese characters, 珍珠坊, are embedded on the narrow façade facing Eu Tong Sen Street, roughly echoing its English name.

People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon

A deserted rooftop car park on the top of the podium offers good views of the surrounding district and one can admire the hundreds of dripping air condensers and aging concrete up close.

People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon
People's Park Complex, Singapore Architecture Finbarr Fallon

Pictured in late 2019, with the now demolished Pearl Bank Apartments in its final shrouded days.


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