Beauty World Centre

Text by Eugene Tan

Once called the Anak Bukit Resettlement Centre, one of this complex's main roles was to rehouse displaced business owners from the Beauty World site, demolished in the 1980s.

Beauty World Centre with Beauty World Plaza to its left (Photo credit: Eugene Tan)

Beauty World Centre got its name from the market that once stood opposite. Formerly the Tai Tong Ah (Da Dong Ya) Amusement Park, it was converted into a market after the Japanese Occupation, when its popularity declined. This new market, Beauty World, was named for the daughter of Mr Giam, one of its owners. It also adopted the name “World” in allusion to its history as an amusement park. This was in reference to the other “Worlds”, including Great World and Happy World. As Beauty World, the open-air market once housed 166 stalls, stages for shows, and even hostess services - inspiring Michael Chiang and Dick Lee's 1988 eponymous musical.

Model of Anak Bukit Resettlement Centre

In its time, the market was plagued by bouts of fire, with two major incidences occurring in the late 1970s. By September 1975, the government acquired the land on which Beauty World Park stood, and talks to relocate the tenants began.

Construction of the Beauty World Centre across Upper Bukit Timah Road completed in 1983 and many notable retailers from Beauty World moved in. These included Grassland Book Store, several toy stores, and medicine halls.

Central atrium of Beauty World Centre

The air-conditioned complex was designed as a 5-storey shopping centre and a 20-storey residential block. Separate entrances were provided for the shopping centre and residential tower which comprised of approximately 11,450m2 of commercial floor space and 80 units of 3-bedroom apartments.

4th floor of Beauty World Centre

To provide better ventilation for the food centre on the 4th floor, the building utilises an open-air concept. With kiosks and restaurants located around landscaped courtyards, the space on this floor feels different from the rest of the building, although its congenial environment remains.

The barrel-vault skylights above the central atrium space are another defining feature. To meet heat penetration standards of the time, bronze--tinted polycarbonate sheets were used as a cover, which gave the Centre's interior its distinctive sheen.

View of Beauty World Centre from across Jln Anak Bukit

Notably, Beauty World Centre was designed and built by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) before being acquired by Pidemco Land in 1989. Ownership of the building was then transferred again in 1998. It was a landmark transaction at close to $80 million, and the building was sold to 194 individual residents and tenants through the Beauty World Centre Merchants Association.