Windows to our soul: the Red Dot on our little Red Dot

7 10 2011

There is a magnificent red building in the heart of the old city that has a less colourful past. The building, now the Red Dot Design Museum, was once where many, in a ritual that comes with the coming of age, would have been where would have faced the agony of taking their driving tests. Many who did, would probably remember the day and the route from Maxwell Road and back, especially the trying moments with the clutch on the dreaded slope up Cantonment Road (at its junction with Neil Road). The building, designed by Public Works Department chief architect, Frank Dorrington Ward (also responsible for other notable works of colonial architecture such as the Supreme Court, Clifford Pier and Hill Street Police Station) then would have been dressed less flamboyantly in a coat of white. It housed both the Headquarters of the Traffic Police and the dreaded Driving Test Centre – the only test centre for a while until the Queenstown Test Centre was opened in 1968.

Windows at the Red Dot Design Museum - windows to the soul of the little red dot.

The building had been constructed at the end of the 1920s as a Police barracks which, based on the infopedia article on the Red Dot Design Museum, was to house junior married officers, although a newspaper report dated 25 January 1930 in the Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser suggests that both married and unmarried men were housed at the barracks. The Traffic Police office moved in from the Central Police Station at the end of January 1930 based on the same report, occupying one end of the building and occupied the building for some seven decades, moving out to their new headquarters in Ubi in 1999. More information on the building can be found at the infopedia stub.

A window into the past, present and future? The Red Dot against the backdrop of today's and tomorrow's Singapore.