Archive for January, 2008


A fresh coat of paint.

January 21, 2008

Finally! Tiong Bahru will be getting a fresh coat of paint. What a relief!

I found out from this tender notice as well as from the Tanjong Pagar Town Council.

It was a little puzzling to be told that the Tiong Bahru Estate would only be repainted NEXT YEAR in 2009!

One year to plan the re-painting job…….sounds like a very elaborate one.

I just hope the colours Tanjong Pagar Town Council eventually settled for would be pleasant enough for all of us here.

Hope we don’t end up like those flats at the Jalan Kukoh area. The Jalan Besar Town Council chose shocking pink combined with hunting green for that area.

What a weird combination!

By the way, when was the last time Tiong Bahru was re-painted?

I was told that Town Council usually re-paints the flats between 5-7 years.

Anyway, it feels good just to know that this place will look and smell fresh again next year!



January 21, 2008

Spotted this injured Kingfisher bird while walking to my car.

At 1st I thought it was one of those realistic looking toy.

My curiosity got the better of me and I approached it to check it out.

The kingfisher flinched but it seems helpless and could not move or flap it’s wings.

“Must be hurt” I thought. All birds will try their best to get away from humans unless they are incapacitated.

I saw some town council employees pruning the trees nearby. Could they have injured the bird while cutting down the leaves.

“Maybe it is a nestling” my wife said.

“Better not touch it!” I said cowardly…..(bird flu was on my mind)

Anyway, my wife was so annoyed with me trying to take pictures of the bird instead of helping it.

By the time I returned (about 30 minutes later), the bird was gone!

I hope the “cat lover” auntie that lives next to where the bird was found has rescued it.

Tiong Bahru Pre War Conserved Flats

January 19, 2008

The Straits Times
Jan 19, 2008

Life begins at 40

Mosaic tiles and vintage furniture combine with sleek fittings and industrial cement screed to give a fresh breath of life to this 40-year-old flat

WHAT LIES BENEATH: Roomy drawers provide storage space beneath the custom-made dining-cum-work table, which is matched with a coffee shop-style stool and vintage chair.

WITH its languid air of tranquillity and quaint walk-up apartments that have stood the test of time to become vintage cool again, Tiong Bahru estate has an attractive charm that young home owners seem unable to resist.

Mr Edwin Siew is one of them.

Unperturbed by the previously worn, dark and narrow interior of this 40-year-old flat, the bachelor in his 30s saw that the 1,098sqft space was perfect to house his collection of second-hand furniture, most of which are antiques from his grandparents.

So his brief to designer Diana Yeo of Design Channel was to create a ‘retro vintage look’ in line with the Tiong Bahru location and his furniture collection.

As it was vital to maximise the space in the flat’s long and narrow layout and still keep its old-school charm, she kept the structural changes to a minimum. They consisted mainly of removing walls to let more natural light into the one-bedroom walk-up apartment.

SQUARES RULE: Original 1950s mosaic tiles have been retained in the corridor connecting the living room to the bedroom.

The original bedroom, previously located at the front of the flat, was moved to the back where the kitchen and the adjoining courtyard used to be.

The front of the home now has a more organised grouping of living and entertaining areas.

In addition, the open-concept kitchen flows seamlessly into the newly configured space.

With the bedroom now at the back of the home, the sleeping quarters enjoy a greater sense of privacy.

REST EASY: Sitting in part of the open courtyard, the newly created bedroom is covered by a polycarbonate roof and shielded further from the natural elements by folding doors.

The old kitchen door and wall have been removed, and folding glass doors are put up in the courtyard to create an additional section and double as a screen for the bedroom.

Ceiling beams combine with a sheet of polycarbonate to create a roof, while a wood-laminate platform has been fitted to make level the differing floor heights in the space.

The narrow bathroom, while retaining its layout, has its small door replaced with a two-door sliding glass panel to reduce the claustrophobic feeling.

To enhance the space visually, a length of wall is replaced with a big window that looks out into the courtyard while allowing plenty of natural light in.

The vintage feel of the flat is seen through, among other things, the original mosaic floor tiles.

In the kitchen-cum-dining area, the retro look is balanced with a customised kitchen counter and dining table. The 5m-long table in rustic wood-grain laminate also doubles as a food-preparation counter and work desk.

Under the table top, roomy drawers and seamless magnetic push-door cabinets store a myriad of things, from shoes and stationery to pots, pans and a slow cooker.

While the flat’s signature white wooden window grille poles have also been retained to add to the retro feel, its formerly whitewashed walls and ceilings have been layered in cement screed for a modern touch.

LIGHTING THE WAY: The chandelier (above), like the vintage-style ceiling lamp above the dining table (main picture), was found in a lighting shop in Geylang.

Pipes, now painted a dark brown, and electrical wires have been intentionally left exposed to create an ‘old, nostalgic look’, says Ms Yeo.

The chocolate hue is also replicated in the new, sleek aluminium window frames so that they complement the antique wood furniture pieces scattered around the flat.

Last but not least, to complete the retro theme, vintage-style lighting fixtures that the owner bought in Geylang dot the cosy space.

Standing in the dimly lit flat, illuminated by track lighting and solitary vintage pendant lamps that cast moody shadows, it certainly feels like you’ve stepped back in sepia-tinted time.

This spread first appeared in this month’s issue of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.


Obituary : Lau Teng Mng (1936 – 2008)

January 18, 2008

Let us take a few moments to mourn the loss of this rare authentic PRE-WAR windows.

These windows were installed during the 1930’s when the British built the Tiong Bahru Estate (Singapore’s 1st Housing Estate).

It not only survived the World War II bombings, it also witnessed the birth of our young nation.

Despite being a little rusted at some parts of the frame…… due to years of neglect, these windows were still faithfully serving the occupants of the flat……until the flat was sold to someone.

“Too old and outdated!” the new owners must have thought.

“Fifty Dollars, that’s all they are worth”, said the window installer to me as I was snapping this picture.

“Nonsense!” I protested. “These are priceless!”

Not wanting to give the window installer an opportunity to think that I’m a mental case, I walked off.

But my heart was a little heavy.

Isn’t these Tiong Bahru flats conserved in December 2003?

What was really being conserved?

Can we truly find a MINT CONDITION 1936 flat within this estate? I have not seen any so far.

90% of buyers who bought into the Tiong Bahru Estate recently did not buy it because of her historical value. Some do not even know why this place was conserved in the first place!

Some bought it to “FLIP” and make some quick bucks while some bought it to rent it out…….nevermind how many or who will eventually live in it as long as it makes economic sense.


I am beginning to wonder if Tiong Bahru Estate was conserved “wrongly”.

After December 2003, there was NO MORE follow up activities.

No one seems to be policing anything at all.

Due to a lack of guidelines, this area seems like a free for all situation and many home owners are constantly testing and pushing the limits.

Perhaps it is because this area is the baby of two statutory board that it became no one’s child.

By the time HDB and URA decide who will take total responsibility for this estate, I think not many of these types of PRE-WAR windows will be around by then.

Face Book

January 11, 2008

Just found out from my bro-in law about this group within the FACEBOOK community.

If you are from this school, check it out here :

By the way, this is the window’s of my school principal’s office.

My principal, Mr Jeyasingam, was a rather stern looking person. And he drove a shiny black Volkswagon bettle.

My grandma always called it the “ORH CHIA”….black car…..if you know what it means….haha