Rochor Centre is one of Singapore’s iconic traditional landmarks that was built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1977. These four HDB blocks were distinctively painted with the colours of yellow, blue, green and red. Despite how much time has passed, the colours of the buildings still remain vivid.
The first three levels are filled with more than 100 shops which mainly make up of beauty salons, coffeeshops, hardware, religious ceremonial goods shops and small offices. An open air void deck together with few amenities are constructed on the fourth floor for the residents to perform their own social activities and interaction. The residential units take up the remaining levels from the fifth floor to 16th floor. This bustling neighborhood area has always been filled with laughter and interactions of the residents and visitors. This location is also easily accessible to other areas as it is only a stone throw away to the busy modern Bugis Village, Buddhism oriented Fu Lu Shou Complex and electronic components centric Sim Lim Tower. However, Rochor Centre is going to be demolished at the end of 2016 to make way for the construction of the 21km-long North-South Expressway.
I am glad to visit Rochor Centre and have my last exploring walkabout before it is gone for good. Rochor Centre is mainly made of these four buildings; Block 1 (Green), Block 2 (Blue), Block 3 (Yellow) and Block 4 (Red). While waking around the fourth level, many pigeons can be sighted everywhere from the walkway roof tops to the railings. One can see patches of fresh birds’ poop and old stains on the floor and walls as well as its feathers on the floor. It seems like these friendly pigeons have already considered part of the other residents residing here. I took the lift to level 16, highest storey of Blk 3, to take a top view of the city. One can see the iconic Sim Lim Tower, Thieves Market at Sungei Road, 1.1km stretch of Rochor Canal, and Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. Though these HDB are old, but their corridors are wide with ample space unlike the new hdb. There is a playground and fitness corner situated right below the block. Sadly, there seems to have some homeless people living at the void deck as cardboards and mattress be seen. There was a stench of urine at almost all corners of the HDB blocks, especially the staircases. When I was about to leave Block 4 to take the overhead bridge to Fu Lu Shou, I passed by a pile of poo! I hope they can find a proper place after Rochor Centre is gone.
As part of Singapore’s 50th Anniversary in 2015, special posters depicting Singapore life, are put up on the walls of the void decks on the 4th storey of Block 4 as part of the Community Quilts Photography Project initiated by Ivan Tan, Juliana Tan and Samuel He. Quoting fromCommunity Quilts: “This project was inspired by small pockets of spaces that had a distinctive Singaporean flavour but were frequently overlooked by Singaporeans. It is an expansion of the traditional concept of a family portrait photographing people who lived, worked, or even those who just happened to just pass by - one by one. Each series is made up of eight vertical panels. Each panel consists of three to four photographs of various subjects superimposed onto each other. The panels are then further weaved together into a seamless whole. You are invited to re-look at these spaces you might have forgotten. Look at each series from far, and up close. You will be simultaneously looking at one photograph and thirty photographs. Like Singapore, we are one, but we are also many too.“