A walk in Chinatown is never complete without at least catching a glimpse of the 31 storey People’s Park Complex. Built in 1973 by DP architects, it’s been regarded as symbol of Asian Modernism that helped pioneer Singapore’s shift from low-rise to high-rise architecture, while also improving the lives of an increasingly overcrowded post-independence Chinatown area.
To me, I’ve always seen People’s Park complex as a perfect spot to film a Hong Kong triad movie. The distinctly blockish green and yellow apartments, together with the large Chinese words ‘珍珠 坊‘ (meaning Pearl’s Centre) adorning the building would provide an amazing backdrop for a chase sequence through the apartments, before cumulating in a do-or-die battle at the open air carpark, which also happens to serve as a common area for residents of the complex.
A lift-ride up and a flight of steps later brought me to a location that Andrew Lau would have fallen in love with. Yet in place of my dream triad fight involving the gang from Causeway Bay, I was presented with an urban rooftop garden operated by Edible Gardens and their aptly titled pop-up store called ‘NONG’ or ‘农 ‘, which means farmer in Chinese.
Started in 2012, Edible Garden’s goal is to help foster urban agriculture by setting up sustainable veggie plots amid forgotten rooftops and dead concrete spaces such as that of People’s Park Complex, where they have been operating only since the start of 2014.
A quick walk around the carpark revealed a beautiful contrast between the flat-tarred parking spaces and the 25 storeys of green and yellow apartments that were very much inspired by Fumihiko Maki’s post-war ideology of developing a collective social space. In fact People’s Park Complex happens to be the first multi-use building with residential, offices, shopping and car parking facilities all in one structure, much like how condominiums above shopping centres are built now.
It’s always nice to see Singapore from a different perspective, and a trip up to the rooftop is also not complete without taking in the numerous views of the cityscape that sits in the background of the Chinatown enclave.
You can end your trip by proceeding for some Yong Tau Foo at the People’s Park Food Centre below.