Orchard Towers: From family mall to sleaze and brawls

A family-oriented mall in its early days, it is now notorious for vice activities

"Action" starts as early as 7pm, with women, mainly from Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Eastern Europe, filing into the mall. By 1am, the place is packed.
"Action" starts as early as 7pm, with women, mainly from Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Eastern Europe, filing into the mall. By 1am, the place is packed.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
The first five floors of the 18-storey building house commercial businesses, with the rest taken up by office space.
The first five floors of the 18-storey building house commercial businesses, with the rest taken up by office space.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Police officers at the crime scene at Orchard Towers where a 31-year-old man was killed after a brawl earlier this month. Left and far left: A takeaway snack shop specialising in Nonya kueh on the third storey of Orchard Towers in 1981. Nightclubs an
Police officers at the crime scene at Orchard Towers where a 31-year-old man was killed after a brawl earlier this month. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Police officers at the crime scene at Orchard Towers where a 31-year-old man was killed after a brawl earlier this month. Left and far left: A takeaway snack shop specialising in Nonya kueh on the third storey of Orchard Towers in 1981. Nightclubs an
A takeaway snack shop specialising in Nonya kueh on the third storey of Orchard Towers in 1981. Nightclubs and massage parlours began popping up in the 1980s, and by the 2000s, many more of such joints were established. ST FILE PHOTOS

By day, workers throng the small offices on the upper floors of dingy Orchard Towers, with patrons occasionally streaming in for cheap Thai food.

But, after dark, the place is transformed, buzzing with sex workers and drunks.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 14, 2019, with the headline 'Orchard Towers' fall from grace'. Print Edition | Subscribe