The development (and restoration) of Sandalwood probably marked the first conspicuous introduction of a brand name architect into the Joo Chiat area, in a nod by the developers to the neighbourhood’s new denizens, presumably those who grew up in Joo Chiat and wanted to see its Peranakan architecture conserved, albeit within a suitably modernized context. Clean lines, a muted colour palette and a pared down simplicity set against the intricate carvings and almost regal columns, seamlessly combining the conservation terraces and the new apartments within a mixed-use development bagged the architectural practice another Conservation Award by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
Even though the developer’s target market was primarily, the coming-of-age youths of Joo Chiat, the neighbourhood’s architecture has not been lost on ‘outsiders’ either, judging by the tenant mix in the development. Before the high profile launch of Sandalwood which brought the neighbourhood once again into the mainstream psyche, the migratory trends amongst the creative set had been in favour of Joo Chiat, going by the number of photographers who set up home offices, young architects and the advertising set who set up home in the neighbourhood. Charmed by the architecture and lured by the attractive price points, a much less higher-profile creative renaissance was going on behind the stoic doors of the conservation terraces and quaint ‘walk-ups’. In a phenomenon that closer parallels the North African architectural ideal of ‘architecture of the veil’ than the disdained ‘façade-ism’, these residences, “enveloped by a plain facade,(with) the house's innermost sanctum (…) kept secret”, reveals itself to the visitor as a celebration of the reconciling influences of a Wallpaper aesthetic and a cognizance of context and heritage.
The trend looks set to continue with the setting up of art galleries, its mentions as ‘an upcoming neighbourhood’ in mainstream media and the number of potential home buyers who are more easily persuaded on the virtues of Joo Chiat.
Article contributed by Hajar of Urban
UrbaneSpaces is a boutique real estate agency specialising in unique, architecturally distinguished properties. It promotes an appreciation of the vernacular and, while fully cognizant of the discordant note struck by thoroughly modern interiors within a conservation shell, also understands that belabouring a debate on conservation also draws us further from its aims. The company's website is accessible through: http://www.urbanespaces.com
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