Floor by floor, the iconic multi-coloured Rochor Centre will be torn down over the next 10 months, with demolition work starting yesterday morning.
In a corner of the four-block public housing estate known for its shades of red, blue, yellow and green, an excavator arm peeked out from behind the hoardings as it tore at a wall relentlessly.
A thunderous noise could be heard at the 13,749 sq m site as the work began, though it was not from demolition but a rainstorm.
But the rain did not deter some former residents and heritage buffs from turning up yesterday to witness their old homes and a part of Singapore's history taking its bow in the name of redevelopment.
The residential and retail complex, which had 183 shops and 567 households, is making way for the upcoming North-South Corridor, which will connect the island's north region to the city centre when completed in 2026.
The 21.5km corridor was originally conceived as an expressway, but was redesigned as Singapore's first integrated transport corridor, featuring dedicated bus lanes and cycling trunk routes.
Among the onlookers yesterday was an 85-year-old man seated at the steps of the Fu Lu Shou Complex entrance across the road from Rochor Centre.
Identifying himself only as Mr Tan, he said he lived at Block 2 of the estate for decades with his elder brother, and they have since moved to Sengkang. Most other residents at Rochor Centre moved to Kallang Trivista, a Housing Board development in Upper Boon Keng Road.
"What is there to feel? I don't feel sad," Mr Tan said in Mandarin. "It just felt like we were chased away."
Braving the elements too was China-born Yuan Yi, 26, who has been in Singapore since her secondary school days and graduated with a global studies degree from the National University of Singapore.
Fiddling with a 360-degree camera, with a sling bag and umbrella in tow, the heritage buff said she hopes to document the demolition process as part of her hobby.
She remembers a music shop there, Eason Music, which she visited while part of the Chinese orchestra in junior college. The rain was not going to deter her from capturing memories, she added. "In fact, it adds to the atmosphere, doesn't it?" said Ms Yuan, a producer at media tech company Hiverlab. "This building will be gone forever."
The demolition work is being carried out by contractor Aik Sun Demolition and Engineering and is expected to finish next April, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said last Wednesday in a statement.
The blocks will be demolished floor by floor, with work starting from the top and the structure progressively brought down using machinery, said the LTA.
Mr Tay Hing Heng, a demolition specialist at contractor Rock Busters, said floor-by-floor demolition would allow the use of smaller-sized excavators, which would produce less noise.
He said half of a floor would be demolished first, and some remaining wall would be used to create a ramp to transport the machine to the floor below. A water spray would be used concurrently with the demolition to minimise dust.
"This is the conventional method of tearing down buildings," he said.
During the demolition, pedestrians can use temporary sheltered walkways as alternative routes around the site. Signs have also been put up to redirect pedestrians.
Noise barriers and dust screens have also been erected around the site to minimise noise and dust affecting residents and businesses nearby, said LTA.
• Additional reporting by Isabelle Liew