Pearl Bank Apartments sold: What makes the development iconic?

Pearl Bank Apartments is a 99-year leasehold development built on a 82,376 sq ft triangular site atop Pearl's Hill. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The iconic Pearl Bank Apartments in Outram was sold to developer CapitaLand on Tuesday (Feb 13) for $728 million, in its fourth collective sale attempt over the past decade.

CapitaLand plans to redevelop the site into a high-rise residential development comprising around 800 units with "social, shared facilities".

Here are six reasons why the development is iconic:

1. Govt's first land-sales site launched exclusively for residential development

Pearl Bank Apartments is a 99-year leasehold development built on a 82,376 sq ft triangular site atop Pearl's Hill, near the Central Business District.

Located at 1, Pearl Bank, this was the Government's first land-sales site launched exclusively for residential development in 1969.

2. It was among the pioneers of high-rise, high-density living in Singapore

When Pearl Bank Apartments was completed in 1976, the 37-storey development became the tallest residential building in Singapore at the time at 113m tall.

With 280 units, it had the highest density of apartments for a private residential development.

Great thought also went into the layout at Pearl Bank Apartments. PHOTO: ST FILE

There are eight penthouses and 272 split-level units that are either two-, three- or four-bedroom apartments, with eight units to a floor.

In addition, it was also one of the first condominium buildings here to offer communal amenities such as swimming pools and clubhouses.

The development includes eight commercial units. Its gross plot ratio is 7.4479.

3. Plenty of thought went into its unique horse-shoe design

The building was designed by local architect Tan Cheng Siong of Archurban Architects Planners. While he was tasked to fit the maximum number of apartments within the site, he also ensured that its unique horse-shoe design fulfilled a purpose.

The block's horse-shoe opening faces west, shading the building from the afternoon sun.

Pearl Bank Apartments' shorter inner facade is for access and services. ST PHOTO: CALVIN LOW

In an interview with The Straits Times in 2012, Mr Tan said that he was influenced by French architect Le Corbusier, a pioneer of modern architecture.

The bold design was a statement of nationhood, he added.

"This was the new Singapore. We wanted to show that it has what it takes to survive," he said.

4. It offers great city views

Great thought also went into the layout at Pearl Bank Apartments. The living rooms and bedrooms are at the front, giving unobstructed city views.

At the 37th floor, one gets a bird's eye view of the southern part of Singapore, with a view of the sea on a clear day.

Utilities and service areas are situated at the rear, overlooking a courtyard.

5. It was first put up for an en bloc sale a decade ago

Pearl Bank Apartments was first put up for collective sale in 2007, before two more attempts in 2008 and 2011.

This rallied a small group of residents to save the landmark building, led by American architect Ed Poole. He hired a lawyer and even started a website to raise awareness of its architectural importance.

In a 2014 Straits Times report, Mr Poole, who lives in a penthouse unit, said: "Pearl Bank is irreplaceable.

"There is no way you can find another apartment like Pearl Bank in Singapore."

6. Plans to gazette Pearl Bank for conservation failed

In 2015, the owners sought a conservation order for the building and at the same time applied to increase its gross floor area.

As part of their vision, they hoped to sell this extra development quantum to a developer, who could then build a second apartment block on top of their five-storey carpark.

A view of Pearl Bank Apartments, Pearls Centre and People's Park Complex, on Nov 21, 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE

With the proceeds, the owners will then retrofit the existing building.

However, plans to gazette it for conservation did not materialise as the liaison committee failed to obtain the required 100 per cent approval from the owners.

About 90 per cent of residents had backed the proposal.

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