Tiong Bahru district is a very special area in Singapore with a distinctive Art Deco identity.
Not far from Chinatown, Tiong Bahru made history in the former British colony. The area witnessed the creation of the first integrated public housing estate scheme offering affordable apartments with integrated shops.
This rstpublichousingproject in Singapore came to be the late 1920s as the Municipal Commission empowered the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) to acquire and develop land. Tiong Bahru, which was covered only by farmlands and Chinese cemeteries was chosen by the SIT.
Transformation started with the construction of the Singapore General Hospital on Outram Road. Many settlers decided then to live in the vicinity of the hospital. Sanitary problems were solved
by the SIT by clearing the land. Nearby hills were cut down by 1930 and cemeteries moved. In 1936, the rst building of 28 apartments and 4 shops was built. By 1941, Tiong Bahru already had 784 flats which then grew, after WWII to over 1,200 apartments.
Tiong Bahru is a very homogenous community today with over 2,000 apartments, two dozens of shops, a famous market, a community centre and schools. The unique style of the estate makes it an attractive place to visit. Most of the apartment blocks were constructed in late Art Deco architecture, called “Streamline Moderne”. This style is characterized by simple curves, rounded corners and geometric motives, similar to railway stations or cruise ships.
Over the years, trendy shops and restaurants moved in, murals adorn now some of the buildings’ white facades.
On a visit, do not miss the blocks at Tiong Bahru and Seng Poh Roads. These areas mix Streamline Moderne architecture with typical Singapore architectural elements such as passageways running along each block. Eng Hoon Street is characterised by its rounded corner buildings and curved balconies in red bricks. Nowadays, this is the street of chic eateries. Tiong Poh Road Block 81 and 82 show the most spectacular example of Streamline Moderne architecture with buildings looking like Zeppelin airships or a luxury car.
Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre
The market was opened in 1951 and is considered as one of the best hawker centres of Singapore with some 15 food shops present in the market since the 1950s.
> 30 Seng Poh Road Tiong Bahru Market #01-45.
Tiong Bahru Bakery
Impossible to come to Tiong Bahru without at least taking a look. Located in Eng Hoon Street, the hipster bakery is well known for its croissants… Prices are matching the bakery’s reputation.
> 56 Eng Hoon St, #01-70
Photo: The Tiong Bahru Streamline Moderne apartment buildings