Walking along Niven Road

Located right in between the famous Sophia Flats and Rex Cinema is the architecturally vibrant yet peaceful stretch of Niven Road. Unlike many pre-war shophouse enclaves that can’t wait to bustle with commercial excitement, Niven Road, which is located within the Mount Sophia conservation area, is home instead to a blend of offices, designer studios and many residential apartments both new and old, that provide a colorfully calm atmosphere that help rein in the beautiful elements of each building’s beginnings.

Niven Road, tucked between Sophia Flats and Rex Cinema

Niven Road, tucked between Sophia Flats and Rex Cinema

Along Niven Road, almost no one shophouse is similar to the other

Along Niven Road, almost no one shophouse is similar to the other

The people walking along Niven Road

The people walking along Niven Road

A walk along the pathways reveals the unmistakable presence of Peranakan styled architecture through the presence of pintu pagar (half-doors for ventilation and privacy) in front of the usual front doors. You would be hard-pressed to find any units that look similar be it in design or colour, with the presence of uniquely shaped doors, window grills, windowpanes, and even tiles around their buildings, lending a culturally rich mix of both colours and personality to the row of about a seventy shophouses.

The pintu pagar (half-doors for ventilation and privacy) are visible along some of the shophouses

The pintu pagar (half-doors for ventilation and privacy) are visible along some of the shophouses

A strong Peranakan culture exudes from this house

A strong Peranakan culture exudes from this house

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Every window seems to have a character on its own

Just some of the many decorative tiles along Niven Road

Just some of the many decorative tiles along Niven Road

Historically, Niven Road also has a strong association with the Sikhs of Singapore, as visible through the many devotees visiting the Khalsa Dharmak Sabha, a three-storey Sikh temple that was built back in 1936. There are also a number of shophouses down the stretch still owned by Sikh businessman, indicating a strong presence of the Sikh community here back in the day.

A devotee getting ready to enter Khalsa Dharmak Sabha

A devotee getting ready to enter Khalsa Dharmak Sabha

A Sikh owned laundry shop is one of the few Sikh runned stalls still remaining

A Sikh owned laundry shop is one of the few Sikh runned stalls still remaining

Pedestrian and traffic flow along Niven Road is almost non-existent, providing a relaxing connection between Bukit Timah and Selegie Road. Of the few people that I observed walking by, many just seemed to be getting from one place to another but with a sense that they took this route to get away from it all, and be inspired however little, by the charm, the culture and the stories that the buildings in the area are able to provide.

A postman delivers the mail along Mount Emily Road just about 10metres away from Niven Road

A postman delivers the mail along Mount Emily Road just about 10metres away from Niven Road

As with many shophouses, conservation is a top priority in Niven Road considering it is under the Mount Sophia Conservation Area

As with many shophouses, conservation is a top priority in Niven Road considering it is under the Mount Sophia Conservation Area

The pathways of Niven Road

The pathways of Niven Road

Couldn't help but be want to peek into this house

Couldn’t help but be want to peek into this house

You can't forget your colonial styled shophouses

You can’t forget your colonial styled shophouses

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: [GPGT] Taking a trip down memory lane: Walking along Niven Road - www.hardwarezone.com.sg

  2. Jillian Woon

    Thanks a lot for the write-up. Brings back lots of memories. Used to live in Wilkie Road nearby. As a primary school pupil, I walked along Niven road every day on my way to Rex cinema to catch a bus to school.

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