Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Boon Keng

Two of my projects overlap and involve lurking around public housing estates and waylay unsuspecting residents for a chat. I spent a day at Boon Keng. Took a train from town; with the North-East line (NEL), it's ridiculously accessible. Way faster than driving or cabbing it. Boon Keng MRT station is just three stations from Dhoby Ghaut interchange, located right in the heart of the estate next to the Kallang Community Club and the food centre.

Named after 19th century Peranakan pioneer Lim Boon Keng, it's a small housing estate consisting of Bendemeer, Towner and Boon Keng itself. As with all Singapore housing estates, all amenities are a walk away- medical clinics, shops, food stalls, supermarkets, etc. Its housing prices are also on the rise, as with all property prices in Singapore. It's also a hot Airbnb area. :P It's still a unique blend of new and old, public and private housing. I was fascinated by the older flats, not the newer ones that have been redeveloped. Its Townerville estate (Towner, May and McNair Road) which comprises restored conservation terrace houses built in the 1920s. Note, many housing estates in Singapore, were built pre-war, pre-1965, under what was known as Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT).

Wasn't there to do valuation of property or record its architecture. I was after the residents in the area. I wanted their stories. Of course I didn't knock on doors. It wasn't a MP/GRC team walk-about thing. I was after personal histories and thoughts. It was a hot day, but under the shade of the walkways, it wasn't so bad. I ambushed the residents who were chilling out at the void decks, both the elderly, the young and the middle-aged. Was totally prepared to get scolded, instead, they didn't mind a chat. I did buy a few rounds of kopi and teh. Hehe. It was very nice to have them willing and comfortable enough to talk to me.


muchadoabouteating said...

For the first time I saw towner estate yesterday. How awesome! That dbss block or whatever they call it sticks out like a sore thumb in the area :( I so sua ku only learnt about the dbss scheme yesterday and wonder why did it ever exist in the first place

imp said...

yeah, Towner is beautiful. wot to do, now must squish as many as humanly possible. gotta say i'm confused by the dbss scheme. it looks nice (as in new and steel and glass and all), but also very small. it definitely changes the character of an estate to something more...modern but mundane and...soul-less.