People's Park Complex – Singapore - Atlas Obscura

People's Park Complex

A manifestation of modernist architectural ideas, this massive, multi-purpose building was one of the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. 

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At over 300 feet tall, this towering green and yellow landmark is an unmissable feature of Singapore’s Chinatown. With space for shopping, restaurants, and residential apartments, the 31-storey modernist structure from famed Singaporean architect William Lim is a testament to collective social living and urban regeneration. 

The complex was built on the grounds of the former People’s Park Market, once a large urban park framed by an impromptu network of shopping and street-food vendors, beloved by the area’s working class as a social and commercial hub. The Singaporean government, however, deemed the organic, unregulated market unsanitary, and in 1966 a fire razed the long-loved but ramshackle institution.

Lim’s firm won the contract for redevelopment, and by 1970, had completed an impressive lower level designated for commerce. By 1973, a dizzying vertical stack of apartment spaces was completed above the shopping space; for a time, the modernist complex was the tallest residential building in the country. Seamlessly housing commercial and residential space, it was also an early example of multi-use building projects in Southeast Asia. 

People’s Park Complex was never meant to change the Singaporeans lifestyles, but rather to make new space for existing customs. Not only does the building host accessible, sociable commerce as in the days of the old patchwork market, but in its heyday also hosted government events, performances, and fashion shows as well. The project harnesses the power of urban connectivity, with covered concrete bridges linking nearby neighborhoods to the building’s shopping center. 

Know Before You Go

The residential block is off-limits to the public, but the deck can be accessed via staircases located on the third floor.