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September 25, 2008

South Beach Development

South Beach Development

South Beach Development is one of the venues for the Singapore Biennale 2008, scheduled from 11 September 2008 to 16 November 2008. This Singapore Biennale presented an opportunity for me to visit and write about the South Beach Development located along Beach Road.

photograph: South Beach Development
The History
According to the Singapore Biennale website, South Beach Development (previously known as Beach Road Camp) comprises the Former Beach Road Camp, the NCO Club Building and the Former Beach Road Police Station building. The Singapore Volunteers Corps (SVC) was a big part of its history where the first NS enlistment was held in 1967.

Three Art Deco Style blocks built in the 1930s and a NCO Club building built in 1953-53, which is a hybrid of Art Deco and the Modern Style, are present within the compound. In February 2000, Beach Road Camp on this site was closed. It was conserved on 9 October 2002.

South Beach Development is scheduled to reopen by 2012 as the revolutionary New Eco-Quarter in Singapore. It will feature two striking towers of up to 45 storeys, including the four revitalised historic buildings and will house premium office space, two luxury hotels, exquisite retail space and exclusive city residences. City Developments Limited and its partners Istithmar (part of the Dubai World Group) and US-based Elad Group are currently working on this project known as South Beach.

My Visit
From the multi-storey carpark of Shaw Towers, a bird’s-eyed view of South Beach Development can be captured on camera across Middle Road. As you approach the South Beach entrance, the perimeter fence gives way to a small swing gate. A three-storey South Beach building stands before you with a label of the previous occupants clearly visible on its whitewashed facade.

Photograph: Corridor in building of South Beach Development

Inside one of the South Beach building along a dim window-less corridor lit with tungsten, there is an eerie sense of being lost in time. Like in an Alfred Hitchcock horror movie, one could literally expect to see a shadow jump out of a door waving a threatening knife in a moment of madness. The hair on my skin would curl and crawl up both arms to reach the neck in such morbid anticipation. I have not heard any ghost stories surrounding this South Beach Development. If any such ghost stories should appear, genuine disbelief will not be one of my reactions.

Photograph: Old Kitchen inside South Beach Development

This collection of historical buildings in South Beach Development shows its age well. In contrast to the spick and span of modern-day skyscrapers nearby, old-world charm oozes from every crack and pore of this South Beach Development. Such authentic preservation of the past at South Beach is a great reminder of our historical roots.

Source: Singapore Biennale 2008 website

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