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Pearl Bank Apartments' rundown exterior hides a Rubik's Cube interior

Published on Apr 21, 2014 5:26 PM

THE year was 1976, and, at a glance on a moonlit night, it might have appeared that Martians had landed on Pearl’s Hill in a cylindrical spaceship. Only, this one is 38 storeys high. And it contains a veritable hive of interlocking split-level spaces, approaching the complexity of a Borg cube (of Star Trek extraction).

Meanwhile, another enigmatic cube had also appeared. The Rubik’s Cube, which challenges players to restore 54 scrambled coloured squares on its external surface to their original six, same-coloured sides, was invented by Hungarian interior design lecturer Erno Rubik in 1974.

The two — the Rubik’s Cube and the Pearl Bank Apartments (PBA), completed in 1976 and designed by pioneering post-Independence Singapore architect Tan Cheng Siong — share more than their 1970s genesis.

Their designs exemplified an approach that can be termed minimalistic rationalism.

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