Inside the new star of MacTaggart

29 11 2018

Uniquely shaped, the former Khong Guan factory stands out at the corner of MacTaggart and Burn Roads – especially so with a recent 8-storey extension that certainly added to the presence that its conserved façade has long commanded.

Having won an award for Restoration & Innovation at AHA 2018, its doors were recently opened for tours conducted by the URA, which provided an opportunity to have that much desired peek inside.

More on the factory and the restoration effort can be found at the following links:

2 MacTaggart Road : Stellar Landmark (URA)

The new star rising at MacTaggart Road

The fallen star of MacTaggart Road


Photographs of the interior and also of the restored exterior: 

The attention grabbing mosaic and iron grille work on the ground level of the triangular shaped building’s apex. The star is apparently a trademark of the maker of the iron grilles, Lea Hin Company (at the corner of Alexandra and Leng Kee Roads).

Inside what used to be a retail outlet that students from neighbouring Playfair School (across Burn Road) would frequent.

Iron grilles – very much a reminder of the days when the building came up in the 1950s. This one – a gate which the family used to gain access to their accommodation in the old building.

A view of the actual gate.

The reception – lit by a glass covered skylight.

The conjurer and his apprentice: Lee Yan Chang of URA showing the workings of the skylight’s blinds.

The skylight as seen from the terrace above.

Stairway to a new heaven.

The stairway, which leads from the lobby to the corporate offices of Khong Guan’s HQ.

The view from above.

A terrace on what used to be the roof deck of the old building.

A view of the extension from the terrace. Lightweight cladding, with aluminium honeycomb backing, is used on the exterior.

The former entrance to the building’s offices. What it looked like previously: please click.

A display window. What it looked like previously: please click.

 


 

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The new star rising at MacTaggart Road

15 02 2018

What’s become of the “conserved” former Khong Guan Biscuit Factory at MacTaggart Road since my last post on it (see: The fallen star of MacTaggart Road) in September 2016:

The former factory – which also served as a warehouse for flour and a residence for the family that owns it, has seen a refreshing transformation with the addition of an eight-storey industrial building behind its distinctive three-storey conserved façade. The design of the quite un-industrial looking new extension seems to have been undertaken by Meta Studio (see: http://meta-current.strikingly.com/#khong-guan-flour-milling-ltd and https://www.facebook.com/meta.architecture/posts/777289939043015).


Photographs of the building before the addition of the new extension:

https://www.facebook.com/thelongnwindingroad/posts/2045557402136053


 





The fallen star of MacTaggart Road

6 09 2016

Long a landmark in the area, the Star at the corner of MacTaggart and Burn Roads – the former Khong Guan Biscuit Factory, is sadly, having its insides ripped out. The building, which was constructed in 1952 and given conservation status in December 2005. Sitting now behind hoardings, it seems that its face is all that is being conserved.

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The Star and its delightful front grille gates in April 2013.

Described in a Straits Times report earlier this year as a three-storey modernist structure, the building also provided office space for the family owned business which has long been a household name in Singapore, as well as store spaces, a shopfront and accommodation to members of the family. The architect of the building and Khong Guan’s company architects since the 1950s, Chung Swee Poey & Sons, also had their offices on the second floor of the building.

Seen from MacTaggart Road in January this year.

Seen from MacTaggart Road in January this year.

More on the building can be found at the following links:


Photographs of the former Khong Guan Biscuit Factory

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The former factory as seen from Burn Road in April 2013.

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A display window at the former factory as seen in April 2013.

Entrance to offices along MacTaggart Road, Seen in January 2016.

Entrance to offices along MacTaggart Road, Seen in January 2016.

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The front of the former factory as seen in April 2013.

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The former factory behind hoardings in September 2016.

The former factory behind hoardings in September 2016.

It appears that all that is being conserved is the building's façade.

It appears that all that is being conserved is the building’s façade.






Coloured corridors

13 11 2013

Conceived by the founder of modern Singapore Sir Stamford Raffles, the five-foot-way was a feature that was stipulated in the Jackson Town Plan of 1822 and is seen today in the shophouses which once dominated the urban landscape of Malaya and Singapore. In Singapore today, over 6000 of these shophouses have been conserved and their five-foot-ways remain colourful spaces through which I often enjoy a walk through. The photographs that follow, are ones from some of the more colourful areas of Singapore in which clusters of shophouses with five-foot-ways, old and new, can be found. More on the five-foot-way and the idea behind them can be found in two of my previous posts, the links to which are at the end of this post.

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Other five-foot-way adventures:





The anatomy of an industrial estate

1 02 2011

These days, industrial estates are very much a feature of Singapore’s landscape outside the city as much as the HDB public housing estates are. Many would not bat an eyelid at the clusters of uninspired high-rise industrial buildings that dot the landscape. Built to house light industries, these high-rise factory buildings, referred to as flatted factories, were “imported” to Singapore at the time of the rapid industrialisation programme of the 1960s.

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Singapore’s very first flatted factory (right) at Commonwealth Drive.

Prior to the building of the first flatted factories, light industries such as metal working, shoe making, textiles and paper products manufacturing, had been accommodated in a mix of low rise units. Many operated out of pre-war shophouses or makeshift wooden and zinc -factories – some of which may have been squatting on state land.

Redevelopment, as well as the pressing need to develop new factory space for light industries to fuel growth, saw Singapore look towards Hong Kong, where the mainstay of the economy had been its small manufacturers. The building of multi-storey factory buildings, which provide large amounts of inexpensive factory space close to its urban centre – close to its source of labour and also where there was easy access to transportation, had proven a great success.

High rise industrial buildings, very much part of the landscape of today’s Singapore, were introduced in the 1960s. The idea was borrowed from Hong Kong, which pioneered the provision of low cost factory units housed in multi-storey buildings for the small enterprises that were a mainstay of its economy.

A pilot programme initiated by the Economic Development Board, gave us the first flatted factory buildings in 1966. Built at Tanglin Halt, Bendeemer, Kallang and Kampong Ampat, space in the five-storey flatted factory blocks were quickly taken up and many more were built.

This success also led to private investment in flatted factories. Along with those built by that were built by the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), there were also many privately developed multi-storey factory blocks that have cropped up all over Singapore over the years.

The first flatted factories were rarely over 5 stories high and built without lifts, these days, they are typically higher.

Along with those built within the boundaries of public housing estates such as Queenstown and Toa Payoh, large clusters of flatted factories also came up in light industrial estates. One such estate is the Kolam Ayer Industrial Park, which features a rather interesting mix of private and JTC built flatted factory buildings.

The industrial park, is perhaps best known for the names of its roads. Some such as Tannery Lane, shed some light on the industrial  history of the area. There are others that have puzzling origins – such as one with the strangest of names, Kallang Pudding Road.

It is suggested that the pudding in the name originates from the pokok puding, Malay for the croton plant – a commonly seen shrub with variegated leaves. A road that served as a “shortcut” for my parents on their drives back from the Kallang area to Toa Payoh, where we lived, in my younger days; my overactive imagination had it as being a reference to the pudding I thought the swamp that once occupied the area had been.

The name of the area, Kolam Ayer, which was at the confluence of the Kallang and Whampoa Rivers, alludes to it having been a body of water (it means a basin, pond or pool of water in Malay). Old maps show it as a huge tidal swamp – part of a much bigger Kallang Basin than the one we know today and one around which industries such as sawmills thrived. The maps also show the municipal dump and an incinerator that operated in the area up until 1959.

A huge inland reclamation project in the area commenced at the end of 1961. Earth recovered from the major public housing project that was taking shape in Toa Payoh was apparently used. Carried out with the intention of transforming the basin, which covered a total area of some 405 hectares, into Singapore’s second industrial estate.

The first phase of the project was completed in 1969. At that point, some 3.8 million cubic metres of earth was used in filling up 154 hectares out of an area of 182 hectares that would have been submerged at high tide.

Kolam Ayer Industrial Park is a mix of private and government built flatted factory units and low rise light industrial building which was built on a site of a huge swamp at the confluence of the Kallang and Whampoa Rivers which was reclaimed in the 1960s using earth from Toa Payoh.

New buildings started coming up on the reclaimed land from the late 1970s , with the bulk, including those erected by the JTC, built in the early 1980s. The estate is probably one of the more interesting industrial areas to wander around. coloured by a mix of old and new factory buildings – some of which sit on seemingly small plots of land.

The mix provides a completely different feel to ones built at one go. It isn't the lack of uniformity or its regular warehouse sales where one can pick up a bargain or two that makes the estate interesting; if one looks hard enough, there are also some rather interesting culinary offerings that certainly will alter one's perception of what an industrial estate can be all about.

One of the flatted factory buildings which colour the Kolam Ayer Industrial Park.