Sunday, February 20, 2011

#3 Balestier Point, 279 Balestier Road

Depite having won a Singapore Institute of Architects Honourable Mention Award in 1987, Balestier Point is now an old and dusty grey building. Built in 1986, Balestier Point was an award-winning residential cum shopping development which derives its inspiration from the original cellular housing project called Habitat 67 designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie in Montreal, Canada.

Stacked like Lego bricks, local firm RDC Architects attempted to balance the privacy of homes with the density of community living by separating the shops from the homes in this mixed-use development, where commercial and residential spaces are combined into one. A unique feature of this development is that all the homes have their own terraces and gardens in the sky. This takes advantage of our tropical climate to create high-rise greenery. However, we do have to take note that all these features are considered passe now due to changes in our modern landscaping. Up till the early 1980s, this site was the old Ruby Theatre, the first movie theatre in the area that opened in 1958 showing mainly Chinese films. Perhaps the only reminder of the Ruby Theatre today would be the many namesakes in the area such as Ruby Plaza up the street and Ruby Apartments directly across the road.

Currently, Balestier Point is regarded as a development with en bloc potential, and given the types of shops in there, such as the sleazy “Kai Xuan Men” as well as a few “Lup Sup Bars” (LSB), I'm not surprised if the government is actually encouraging private developers to come in and do something about it. However, it does offer another view of the Singaporean night-life which is otherwise confined to places like “Clark Quay”, “Mohammed Sultan”, etc. For tourists who wish to have another look at Singapore's hidden night life, Balestier Point is another alternative.

- Prinya

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