Safeguarding post-Independence 'Pearls'

Sale of landmark Pearl Bank Apartments underlines need for new look at leasehold laws to make conservation less onerous to achieve

The horseshoe-shaped Pearl Bank Apartments - once Singapore's tallest residential building - was sold en bloc for $728 million last month. Architects have previously cited its unique architecture and design, and historical significance in being among
The horseshoe-shaped Pearl Bank Apartments - once Singapore's tallest residential building - was sold en bloc for $728 million last month. Architects have previously cited its unique architecture and design, and historical significance in being among the pioneers of high-rise, high-density living here, as reasons why they would like it conserved.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

When the collective sale of Pearl Bank Apartments went through last month for $728 million on its fourth attempt, those residents opposed to it were not the only ones experiencing anguish. Many heritage enthusiasts lamented the loss of this significant piece of modernist architecture.

The distinctive, horseshoe-shaped condominium - once Singapore's tallest residential building - may join other notable residential buildings in terms of architecture that made a date with the wrecking ball: They include Hilltops (completed in 1965) by architect Victor Chew, Futura (1976) by architect Timothy Seow, and the Geylang Serai public housing estate (1965).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2018, with the headline 'Safeguarding post-Independence 'Pearls''. Subscribe