Heritage Spotlight

Reflections at Bukit Chandu has interesting past

Segmented arches and flared column base.
Segmented arches and flared column base.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Mix of window designs and textured green glass.
Mix of window designs and textured green glass.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Coils at roof corner.
Coils at roof corner.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Hidden on a hill, colonial bungalow Reflections at Bukit Chandu was close to the site of the Battle of Pasir Panjang during WWII

When Singaporeans think of black- and-white colonial bungalows, areas such as Rochester Park and Dempsey Road come to mind.

But many may not know that there is also one hidden away in Pasir Panjang.

Despite sitting atop a hill up Pepys Road, off West Coast Highway - it is also connected to Kent Ridge Park via a canopy walk - the handsome two-storey bungalow is hidden from view behind trees.

It is quiet here, save for the occasional rustle of leaves or the swish of water in the shallow koi pond.

The bungalow, named Reflections at Bukit Chandu, is close to the site of the Battle of Pasir Panjang, where members of the Malay regiment sacrificed their lives fighting for Singapore and Malaya against the Japanese during World War II. The battle took place just before the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese on Feb 15, 1942.

Built in 1910 as living quarters for senior members of the colonial administration, the masonry-style house was converted into a museum in 2002 by the National Heritage Board, to pay homage to the Malay regiment and document the effects of the war on civilians. It drew more than 35,000 visitors last year.

Two other bungalows on the hill were demolished during the 1980s, though the Urban Redevelopment Authority does not know why.

The bungalow was gazetted for conservation in 2003.

While renovations were done two years earlier, the building's original exterior and interior features, including the facade and layout, were retained.

During the renovations, the original timber flooring was replaced with a new one and an air-conditioning system installed.

A replica of a painting depicting the Battle of Pasir Panjang, by the late Malaysian oil painter Hoessein Enas, was added as part of the museum exhibits.

The work, suspended from an arch, can be seen on one side of the building.

Noting that this year is the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore, Ms Loy Ju-Lin, senior architect at the Urban Redevelopment Authority, says: "This building serves as an anchor to our past and history... These historical landmarks have to be remembered to help uscherish the peace we enjoy today."

•This is a monthly column on conservation buildings.


Three highlights of Reflections at Bukit Chandu

1 Segmented arches and flared column base

The segmented arches , which can be seen on the ground floor of the bungalow, are rare and not usually seen in Singapore, says Ms Loy Ju-Lin, senior architect at the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The segmented detail continues at the building's column bases, which are flared and stepped. This makes the columns look more grounded and solid.

2 Mix of window designs and textured green glass

The ground-floor windows have diamond-shaped frames, while those on the second floor have a mix of diamond- and square-shaped frames.

Most buildings usually stick to the same window design throughout.

The textured green glass helps cut out the glare of the tropical sun.

3 Coils at roof corner

The curved copper strip coils at the corner of the roof is predominantly a decorative feature, says Ms Loy.

It is a quirky and interesting original feature of the house.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2017, with the headline 'Silent witness of war and peace'. Print Edition | Subscribe