Pearl Bank Apartments to be opened up to Instagrammers one last time; CapitaLand spent 3 months documenting structure

CapitaLand said it spent three months capturing "detailed images and videos" and the creation of 3D models of the building, created using photogrammetry technology with drones.
CapitaLand said it spent three months capturing "detailed images and videos" and the creation of 3D models of the building, created using photogrammetry technology with drones.PHOTO: CAPITALAND

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

In a statement on Thursday (May 9), CapitaLand said it spent three months methodically capturing images of 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 for public archive at a later stage.

The Straits Times understands this is the first time a private residential high-rise has been documented.

CapitaLand also said that it will soon be hosting a guided photowalk of the building for the Instagram community.

Mr Ronald Tay, chief executive officer 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 not just to researchers and students, but also everyone."

CapitaLand acquired Pearl Bank for $728 million in February last year in the structure'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, and 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.

Nonetheless, he said the firm is "committed to retaining its innovative spirit" and its redevelopment will offer more Singapore residents the chance to lead their dream urban lifestyles at this prime location in central Singapore.

He added: "This is also in line with the authorities' plans to develop more homes in Singapore's Central Area."

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

The floor plan of a typical four-bedroom unit in Pearl Bank Apartments. PHOTO: CAPITALAND

At 113m, Pearl Bank was the tallest residential building in Singapore when it was built. It also set standards for later condominium developments on the provision of communal amenities such as common areas, clubhouses and shops.

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.

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's 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.

On Saturday, CapitaLand will be hosting a guided photowalk for the Instagram community to snap and share their images of the 38-storey building with the wider public.

It said that while 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.