Goodbye, Rochor Centre

Rochor Centre as seen from Tekka Market. The residential and commerical estate will be demolished to make way for the upcoming North-South Expressway in 2016.
Rochor Centre as seen from Tekka Market. The residential and commerical estate will be demolished to make way for the upcoming North-South Expressway in 2016.PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
Rochor Centre as seen from Tekka Market. The residential and commercial estate will be demolished to make way for the upcoming North-South Expressway in 2016.
Rochor Centre as seen from Tekka Market. The residential and commercial estate will be demolished to make way for the upcoming North-South Expressway in 2016.PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
A tourist snaps a picture of Rochor Centre during a city tour around Singapore. The colourful HDB blocks are set to be demolished in 2016 to make way for the upcoming North-South Expressway.
A tourist snaps a picture of Rochor Centre during a city tour around Singapore. The colourful HDB blocks are set to be demolished in 2016 to make way for the upcoming North-South Expressway.PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO

SINGAPORE - She may be moving out of Rochor Centre before it gets torn down next year, but coffee shop owner Jackie Chua wants to help the estate’s name live on.

The 64-year-old intends to open a stall called Rochor Traditional Snacks, selling items such as curry puffs and soon kueh.  “I was born near here, and I grew up and grew old here. Rochor is meaningful to me,” she said.

Built in 1977 by the Housing and Development Board (HDB), Rochor Centre is a commercial and residential estate. Over the years, the colourful blocks have become iconic structures of public housing in Singapore. In 2016, the buildings will be demolished to make way for the construction of the North-South Expressway. 

While residents are assured of replacement apartments at HDB’s upcoming Kallang Trivista flats, shop tenants have to find new homes.

After more than 30 years working at Kwang Hui Kopitiam, Ms Chua is looking for a smaller space for her new business. She has yet to find a place in the Rochor area that is within her budget.

“Times are different now. It’s not possible to get a place with the same size and same price,” she said.

Space is also a concern for residents of the HDB estate. Some have lamented how new flats  are much smaller than older ones. Resident Vivien Wan was able to knock down the wall between two three-room flats she owns, creating a six-room apartment - a feat she says is not possible for new flats.

“You can’t do that with new flats. They are all pre-fabricated, like Lego pieces,” she said.

The Straits Times Video speaks to business owners and residents about what their future holds, and what Rochor Centre means to them.