Golden Mile Complex

Text by Eugene Tan

A prototypical module from an idealistic architectural vision, Golden Mile complex could have been replicated along the entire coastline to form a theoretically rigorous ‘linear city’, a self-sufficient megastructure serviced by efficient transport links. Appropriated by the immigrant Thai population, the building is now an all-encompassing little Thailand, maximising its potential as a mixed-use development.

Golden Mile Complex in the 1970s (Photo credit: Urban Redevelopment Authority)

Formerly known as Woh Hup Complex, this 16-storey building was designed as a module in an idealistic vision for the urban development of Kallang basin in the form of a megastructure. Drawing influence from the “Linear City” proposals by renowned architects Le Corbusier and Soria y Mata, it was intended to be serviced by a Mass Rapid Transit Line and Pedestrian spine running parallel to Beach Road.

Golden Mile Complex section

Golden Mile urban proposal by SPUR

Robust infrastructure was not the only convenience that the complex was intended to benefit from. A pioneering mixed use development (incorporating offices, shopping, entertainment and apartment living), proximities between live, work and play were to be significantly reduced. To accommodate the various functions, the building took on the form of highly articulated steps atop a podium, with the podium containing most of the public spaces while the terraces accommodated the apartment units, replete with generous balconies and a panoramic view of the sea and sky.

Golden Mile Complex atrium

Elevated terrace at Golden Mile Complex

Despite this compact situation, the architects employed several clever manoeuvres to facilitate natural lighting and ventilation, such as in the use of multiple atria and the deliberate offset of one stepped section from the other.

Apartment access and corridors of Golden Mile Complex

View towards Kallang from Golden Mile Complex

Over time, the podium portion of the complex has become synonymous with two types of businesses, bus tour operators and shops which serve the local Thai population. Together with the offices and apartments above, and foreigners arriving by bus, the building is a hodgepodge of cultures. The positive mixture of people within such a visionary design has led to global recognition of Golden Mile Complex’s success as a work of architecture.

Architectural rendering of Golden Mile Complex