Drone scans save Pearl Bank's facade for posterity

Above: This image of Pearl Bank Apartments was created using photogrammetry technology with the help of drones. Left: The floor plan of a typical four-bedroom unit has been digitally documented.
The floor plan of a typical four-bedroom unit has been digitally documented.PHOTOS: CAPITALAND

3D models, digital drawings of building earlier sold en bloc given to URA for public archives

Drone scans of Pearl Bank Apartments' facade, and 3D laser scans of its various types of apartments and common areas, have been documented by CapitaLand ahead of the structure's redevelopment.

In a statement yesterday, CapitaLand said it spent three months methodically capturing the horseshoe-shaped block in Outram which was completed in 1976 to provide homes for the middle class.

It also took detailed images and videos of the structure.

Together with the 3D models, digital drawings of the building's floor plans, section plans and elevation plans have been submitted to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for public archives at a later stage.

Mr Ronald Tay, chief executive of CapitaLand Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, said: "Built during the early years of Singapore's independence, Pearl Bank Apartments offered an innovative scheme to city living with its high-rise and high-density concept.

"We have documented these approaches in digital format, which can be easily downloaded for academic study.

"Documenting the building for posterity is CapitaLand's way of contributing towards the study of Singapore's urban development, by making the knowledge accessible to not just researchers and students, but also everyone."

 The floor plan of a typical four-bedroom unit has been digitally documented.
This image of Pearl Bank Apartments was created using photogrammetry technology with the help of drones.

CapitaLand acquired Pearl Bank Apartments for $728 million in February last year, in the latter's fourth collective sale attempt since 2007.

The sale was completed last November and CapitaLand took vacant possession of the site on April 30.

Mr Tay said in the statement that it is not feasible to conserve Pearl Bank Apartments.

He added that the decision came about after CapitaLand extensively evaluated various redevelopment options, taking into consideration prevailing housing policies, market conditions and building safety requirements, among other factors.

But he said it is committed to retaining its innovative spirit and its redevelopment will offer more people a chance to live at a prime location in central Singapore.

The new development on the site, housing 774 residential apartments, is scheduled for completion in 2023.

At 113m, Pearl Bank Apartments was the tallest residential building in Singapore when it was built.

Although more than 90 per cent of residents in 2015 backed a proposal that would conserve the building while seeking the URA's approval for new units to be built on top of the carpark, the deal fell through as the proposal would have affected the aggregate share value, resulting in a significant dilution of rights of the existing owners.

MAKING KNOWLEDGE ACCESSIBLE

Documenting the building for posterity is CapitaLand's way of contributing towards the study of Singapore's urban development, by making the knowledge accessible to not just researchers and students, but also everyone.

MR RONALD TAY, CEO of CapitaLand Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

To be fair to all existing shareholders of the property, which had 288 units, the authorities required a resolution by consensus.

Although public opinion is mixed on Pearl Bank Apartments' significance, a photo of its last day of occupancy on April 30, documented by photographer Darren Soh, was shared more than 5,000 times on Facebook.

CapitaLand will host a guided photo-walk tomorrow for the Instagram communityto snap and share their images of the 38-storey building with the public.

It said that while the building's facade has been well photographed over the years, it will be the first time many of these Instagrammers are entering the compound of the private residential development.

These will be chronicled under the hashtag #OnePearlBank.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'Drone scans save Pearl Bank's facade for posterity'. Print Edition | Subscribe