The Stallwood houses

24 03 2020

In Singapore, Herbert Athill Stallwood is probably better known for his effort in documenting the Old Christian Cemetery on Fort Canning Hill. What perhaps is not as well known is the legacy that he has left Singapore in his capacity as the Government Architect. It the set of plans that he drew up during this time that a large proportion of Singapore’s so-called “Black and White Houses” were built to.

The first of the Stallwood designed houses are seen at Malcolm Park, built in 1925.

Stallwood, who arrived in Singapore in October 1906 and was appointed as a draughtsman in the Public Works Department (PWD) in November 1906, would take on the position of Architectural Assistant following his qualification as an architect in 1912. In 1920, Stallwood was appointed as Government Architect. Among Stallwood’s assistants was Frank Dorrington Ward, whose is perhaps the better known PWD architect whose later works included the old Supreme Court and Kallang Airport. It was during Stallwood’s time as Government Architect that the plans for what would become the PWD’s Government Class III Quarters were derived from.

These houses, which tended to be built into sloping terrain, featured concrete piers supporting timber upper structures in which the living spaces were arranged. They were provided with spacious verandahs, high ceilings and lots of ventilation openings to maximise airflow and light.  The residences are seen replicated in some form across many estates built to house senior government, military and municipal officers from the second half of the 1920s onwards.


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The Government Housing gems at Seton Close

22 03 2020

Found around the fringes of the Municipality of Singapore are several government housing gems such as several that were built using blueprints developed by the Public Works Department (PWD) in the 1910s. These, which include four Class III houses at Seton Close that were beautifully renovated for modern living in 2018, can be thought of as being among the PWD’s first purpose built designs.

A Seton Close residence.

The four at Seton Close, belonged to a larger set of six put up to house senior government officers in 1922. These are again, quite different from what could be thought of as an actual black and white house and feature a fair amount of masonry and have a main framework of concrete (as opposed to timber) columns and beams. Some of the upper level framework on the balcony projections and verandah (and of course roof supports) were however of timber. Much of these wooden structures would have been coated in black tar-based coatings, and would have (as they do to some extent now) featured a fair bit of black “trim”.

The since enclosed upper verandah.

Designed with a porte-cochère, with a (since enclosed) verandah space above that would have served as a lounge in the evenings, the houses had their reception and dining spaces below. The well-ventilated bedrooms on the second level also opened to balconies, which have also since been enclosed.

A bedroom.


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The houses that the SIT’s architects built – for themselves!

21 03 2020

Built for Singapore’s colonial administrators by the municipal commission, government and military, several hundred residences set in lush surroundings, stand today. Widely referred to as “black and white” houses, the bulk of these residences actually exhibit a range of styles that are not quite as black and white as the commonly used description would suggest and include some with more modern styles such as a set of residences built at Kay Siang Road for senior officers of the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT). Designed by the SIT’s own team of architects and built from the 1940s to the 1950s, the houses – like the majority of the colonial homes that were built are not technically of the black and white style.

 

One of the “air-conditioned” SIT designed houses. These were built for the SIT’s most senior officers.

One thing that marks these modern residences in Kay Siang Road are their low ceilings –  a departure from the high ceilings of the typical colonial home. This feature was for the simple reason that the houses had been designed for air-conditioning, which was much more of a luxury back then than it is today. For the same reason, the houses lack. the verandahs, generous ventilation openings, and the airiness that came with them.

A close-up of the house.

The SIT, which was set up in 1927, took on the role of building public housing and urban planning until it was replaced by the Housing and Development Board in 1960. Among the estates that it housed its European staff at was at Adam Park and Kay Siang Road, the latter being where the SIT’s senior staff were put up. The colonial estate at Kay Siang Road was developed in the 1920s and was located north of Wee Kay Siang’s estate after which the road is named. The early homes at the estate were of the Public Works Department style and it was only later that the SIT’s architects added a flavour of their own to the area.


Inside the house






The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company’s Estate on Mount Faber

18 03 2020

Some of you would probably have read the news about the possibility of a heritage trail in the Pender Road area in the Straits Times over the weekend. The trail involves the estate containing five wonderfully designed houses that were erected by the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company’s relatively junior engineering staff in the early 1900s. The company, which was part of a group established by Sir John Pender that had a monopoly on the British Empire’s submarine cable network and hence a virtual monopoly on worldwide communications. It morphed into Cable and Wireless in 1929 through a merger with Marconi, which had a stranglehold on radio communications.

Designed by Swan and Maclaren and built between 1908 and 1919, the houses are among a wealth of several hundred residences that were built during colonial-era, which are often referred to in Singapore as “Black and White houses”. While the term is correctly applied to these houses, which are timber framed, which coated in black tar based paints do exhibit a distinct resemblance to the English Tudor-style houses from which the term is derived, the same cannot be said of Singapore’s other colonial residences.

The bulk of the colonial houses, particularly those built from the mid-1920s for senior municipal, government and military officers feature Public Works Department designs with concrete columns and beams. Although many of these are coated in white finishes and feature black painted trimmings today, not all have been coated in the same colours historically. The term also prevents us from looking at the many styles that can be found among the colonial homes.

Visits to the estate – an important note:

Much of the estate at Pender Road is tenanted. To maintain the residents privacy and to avoid causing nuisance, the estate is out-of-bounds to the general public. However, do look out for a series of controlled visits that will give the public an opportunity to visit the estate and learn more about these architectural gems. These are being planned in collaboration with the Singapore Land Authority as part of the Discovering Singapore’s Best Kept Secrets series of guided visits. Hopefully, this can start in the second half of this year.


The Estate’s Houses in Photographs


Married Engineer’s Quarters (two off, built in 1919)


 

Bachelor Jointers’ Quarters (built 1908 and extended in 1914)


Married Jointer’s Quarters (three off, built 1919)


 





Flying high despite the gloom, Singapore Airshow 2020

11 02 2020

The Singapore Airshow 2020, was launched last evening at Marina Bay Sands. The 7th edition of the biennial event opens to trade visitors today in the midst of much uncertainty, especially in the near term, but also with much hope for the future – as was emphasised by DPM Heng Swee Kiat and Mr Vincent Chong, Chairman of Experia Events in their opening speeches. DPM Heng was keen to stress the that the future is bright – with the volume of air travel in the world expected to double in the next 2 decades, half of all new air travellers from the Asia-Pacific region. Mr Heng spoke also of the need for Singapore to position itself to tap on to this growth by investment in innovation, skills and infrastructure.

Several exhibitors (less than 8% of the total) have pulled out of the event due to the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. The show, including the highly anticipated flying display – sans the ROK’s Black Eagles aerobatic team, will however go on. As part of the measures due to the outbreak, the numbers for visitors for public days on 15 and 16 February, will be halved.

 


DPM Heng Swee Kiat addressing the crowd at the opening reception of Singapore Airshow 2020.

DPM Heng Swee Kiat and Mr Vincent Chong opening the airshow.

An F-22 Raptor – flying in Singapore airspace for the first time at the Singapore Airshow 2020 – see during the media preview on Sunday.

An F-35B in hover mode during the media preview of the flying display – also flying in Singapore airspace for the first time.

The highlight of this year’s flying displays – the PLAAF’s Ba Yi aerobatic team’s display.


See also: Calligraphy in the skies: 八一 at the Singapore Airshow 2020






Calligraphy in the skies: 八一 at the Singapore Airshow 2020

9 02 2020

A first look at the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (PLAAF) Ba Yi (八一 or August 1) aerobatic team painting the skies off Changi. The team, who will be making their first ever appearance in our skies, will be one of the highlights of the flying displays lined up for the Singapore Airshow 2020. The appearance of the team came under careful consideration both by authorities in China and medical authorities here due to the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak. Other aerobatic displays visitors to the airshow can look forward to are the US Marine Corps’ F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, the US Pacific Air Forces’ F-22 Raptor and a RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force) aerial display team of an F-15SG fighter jet and two AH-64D attack helicopters. Additionally there will be a flyover of a US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress on 15 February 2020.


Flying display schedule (subject to change) :

Date Time Duration
11 Feb 12.30 pm – 1.35 pm 65min
12 Feb 11.30 am – 12.20 pm 50min
13 Feb 11.30 am – 12.05 pm 35min
14 Feb No flying display
15 Feb 11.30 am – 12.10 pm 40min
2.30 pm – 3.10 pm 40min
16 Feb 11.30 am – 12.10pm 40min
2.30 pm – 3.10 pm 40min





Thaipusam 2020

9 02 2020

Photographs of Thaipusam, taken in and around the Sri Srinvasa Perumal Temple. The colourful annual festival, celebrated by the South Indian Hindu community, sees a procession of kavadis carried along a 4 kilometre route from the Sri Srinvasa Temple on Serangoon Road to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple (Chettiars Temple) on Tank Road.



Posts related to past celebrations of Thaipusam in Singapore: