Saturday, 26 November 2011

A House Worth Saving

The Dubliner - An Irish Pub Along Penang Road

The above spanking white facade of this 20th-century Colonial building, all spruced up is already been injected with a new lease of life. Considering the size of our country, Singapore, keeping such small buildings around sometimes calls for appreciation and love for old world architecture that would never quite easily replicate in our modern times. All you see are skyscrapers coming up at a rapid rate with seamless, streamlined structures clad in metal, glass and steel. Don't think of constructing impressive columns or embellish the building with fancy arches. We don't have time to waste. Get it up fast. Time is money.

Just the other day, I saw an old building from the corner of my eyes when we were driving around the round-about in Marine Parade. A slice of it was left standing in front of an on-going construction of a apartment building. It looks really pathethic. I went back to the spot another day to take a snapshot of it. It really is the remnant of 23 Amber Road, the entrance porch of 'Butterfly House' - to be integrated into this new 18 storey condominium. It's loss of the core structure is irrevocable. What is gone becomes irretrievable.

This bungalow has a special place in the hearts of some Katongites and other conservation enthusiasts. It was the only residential building with curved extensions and was designed by Alfred John Bidwell, the same architect who designed the Raffles Hotel, Goodwood Park Hotel, Chesed-El Synagogue and Victoria Memorial Hall. It had seen its better days. Waves once lapped at the house backyard and its curved verandah was designed to catch the sea breezes. However this part of the house is hidden from the road. It's no wonder that I didn't come to know about its uniqueness of this piece of architecture until the campaign to save it in 2007.

I have to be contend with a slide show to take a tour through the house. Sad to say to have lost a treasure. Nothing is left for the future generation to take a step into the past by entering the doors of 93 year old residence in Katong.

See for yourself @

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