Katong Shopping Centre

With its vintage IKEA like tones of blue and yellow, Katong Shopping Centre sits stoically on the edge of East Coast Road. Like the many businesses along Katong and Joo Chiat, it has had to keep up with the times, but thankfully still manages to retain elements of an old world charm within its unique architecture.

The distinct blue and yellow IKEA like tones make Katong Shopping Centre an unmistakable landmark

The distinct blue and yellow IKEA like tones make Katong Shopping Centre an unmistakable landmark

Katong Shopping Centre back in the day. Image taken from the National Archives of Singapore

Katong Shopping Centre back in the day. Image taken from the National Archives of Singapore

Built in 1973 between the period when the likes of Odeon-Katong and Roxy Theatre made Katong the vibrant heartbeat of the East, Katong Shopping Centre was the first air-conditioned mall in Singapore. The centre played host to an array of businesses from textiles to shoes, the most memorable of which would have to be Oriental Emporium, its previous anchor tenant. At one point there was even a bowling alley up on the top floor!

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, Katong Shopping Centre became known for the many domestic helper agencies that dominate the first floor, many of which still greet first-time customers to the centre today.

Flourescent Lights and large marble tiles adorn the interior of the centre

Flourescent Lights and large marble tiles adorn the interior of the centre flanked to the side by numerous domestic helper agencies

Ceiling strapped irons are still used at this Tailor Shop

Ceiling strapped irons are still used at this Tailor Shop

At the basement level, the famous Katong Chicken Rice plays host to snaking queues even on weekdays, while the Dona Manis Cake Shop that’s been around for 20 years, churns out the most delectable homemade pastries, from butter buns to raisin scones, as well as its world-famous banana pie!

Even on weekdays the Katong Chicken Rice stall has snaking queues forming.

Even on weekdays the Katong Chicken Rice stall has snaking queues forming.

Dona Manis Cake Shop co-owner Mdm Soh Toh Lung with her world famous Banana Pie, made by hand from scratch every day.

Dona Manis Cake Shop co-owner Mdm Soh Toh Lung with her world famous Banana Pie, made by hand from scratch every day.

Yet what attracts me most to Katong Shopping Centre is undoubtedly its design and architecture, which to me adopts somewhat of a minimalist style influenced by the Art Deco and Modern Shophouses we find in Singapore.

The bulk of the building sees blocks of varying sizes stacked atop one another, punctuated by columns that support the structure from below. From the carpark, one even notices a mini-inverted shaped pyramid connecting the upper floors, while the decorative yet practical holes sit on two separate levels (Carpark and Rooftop), giving a spatial depth and uniqueness to the centre that interestingly only had its recognisable coat of blue and yellow painted in 1997.

From the carpark level, the top half of Katong Shopping Centre sits on an inverted pyramid

From the carpark level, the top half of Katong Shopping Centre sits on an inverted pyramid

Located on the Carpark and top floor, the circular holes create a practical aesthetic to Katong Shopping Centre.

Located on the Carpark and top floor, the circular holes create a practical aesthetic to Katong Shopping Centre.

Today, Katong Shopping Centre remains one of the few old shopping centres like Queensway Shopping Centre that have managed to keep up with the times, with crowds still regularly patronising the mall for various necessities. Talk of it going en-bloc has been on and about since 2012, but lets just hope it doesn’t get to that stage anytime soon.

Photocopying business obviously do not enjoy raving business today but many still remain on the 2nd floor of the building

Photocopying business obviously do not enjoy raving business today but many still remain on the 2nd floor of the building

Modern fittings are a common sight in the building, a sign of keeping up with the times.

Modern fittings are a common sight in the building, a sign of keeping up with the times.

 

One comment

  1. andymcc76@gmail.com

    Katong Shopping Centre provides a unique but humbly authentic Singaporean shopping experience. I would highly recommend tourists visit this charming place over the terribly artificial, tourist-trap monstrosities along Orchard Road anytime. Seriously speaking, if you want to experience modest, true Singapore, let Katong Shopping Centre be one of your stops!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: