For those growing up in the West of Singapore during the 80s and 90s, a visit to one of the three ‘Beauty Worlds’, would undoubtedly have been a memorable experience with its array of shops and amenities, many of which shifted over after the countless fires that ravaged the old Beauty World Market that stood at the site from 1947 to 1975.
Built in consecutive years in the 1980s, Beauty World Plaza (1982), Bukit Timah Shopping Centre (1983) and Beauty World Centre (1984) each carry their own distinctive architectural design, providing visitor with a unique sense of space while they go about their weekly activities.
While Beauty World Plaza carries a unique German style with its point-tipped exterior, Beauty World Centre enjoys a mix of brutalist elements as seen in buildings like Golden Mile Complex. Lastly, Bukit Timah Shopping Centre’s use of vertical fins on its exterior is a design commonly found in a number of religious buildings and even schools on the island.
Within the complexes, maid agencies, countless enrichment centres, and the iconic Beauty World Hawker Centre are perhaps the most frequently patronised of spaces. In-between, pockets of Korean establishments, an auditorium, hair salons and even a card collectors shop can be found at the various floors of these mixed-development complexes.
Unlike present day shopping malls that revel in hiding escalators from plain sight, each of the complexes seem to allow these godsend alternative to stairs the full limelight in each of their buildings, particularly that of Beauty World Centre, where a constant blue light envelopes visitors in an almost underwater like experience.
Yet perhaps the most endearing of spaces there is the top-level open air Beauty World Hawker Centre, home to 41 hawker stalls, some of whom have been around for over 30 years since it opened in the 1980s. Unlike conventional hawker centres that sit at ground level, the fourth-level space offers a meal with a view, and not forgetting much better ventilation.
While most oldies flock to stalls like the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, or Top 1 Home Made Noodle, I personally prefer the succulent selections of burger available at the aptly named ‘Hambaobao’ stall run by two young hawkers. At just $5 a burger, you get to choose from succulent pulled pork, grilled fish and even an ayam buah keluak rendition!
Like all good things, the hawker centre is however set to close soon, having been bought over by a mystery buyer for the sum of $17.5 million. In its place? An expected air-conditioned food court.