Located along Upper Bukit Timah Road, adjacent to Beauty World Centre and Bukit Timah Plaza, this playfully pink shopping centre is one of Singapore’s first fully air-conditioned shopping complexes. Its experimental formal tectonics and spatial planning mark a significant contribution to the nation’s development of the highrise mixed-use typology.
Start your journey at BUKIT TIMAH SHOPPING CENTRE, at the suburban junction where Jalan Anak Bukit meets Upper Bukit Timah Road. Once housing a emporium supermarket, the Gala Cinema, and known for the many goods and services tailored to its predominantly Chinese customer base, the strata-titled development has undergone some programmatic changes over time. Today, it is known for its many maid agencies. Foreign domestic workers awaiting employment can be seen sitting silently behind glass doors, while agency staff type away on their computers.
Afterwards, head to ORCHARD TOWERS, at the edge of Singapore's primary shopping belt. It is home to the Embassies of Romania and Cambodia and also home some of Singapore's most notorious bars and nightclubs. Nicknamed the "Four Floors of Whores", the podium portion of Orchard Towers comes alive at dusk and women of the night from countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Russia, and Ukraine can be seen loitering around the building's entrance. Be careful, though, the Towers are also known for the violence that takes place in and around its premises. Most notably, its parking lot was the dumping ground of two bodies in a highly publicised double murder.
The next stop, LUCKY PLAZA is within walking distance and is acknowledged as the social centre of Filipinos in Singapore. The shopping centre is also known for its many electronics-peddling shops, as well as its hair and beauty services offered on its upper floors. These latter narratives seem subsumed on weekends when throngs of foreign domestic workers from the Philippines flock to Lucky Plaza for their weekly shopping and socialising. While here, you might want to sample fast food from the Phillipines' own Jollibee which opened to much fanfare in 2013 and is now the chain's top performing outlet worldwide.
At PENINSULA PLAZA, you will find numerous camera stores popular with photography enthusiasts. These highly specialized photography retailers share Peninsula Plaza with shops that cater to Singapore's Burmese population, and the popularity of these goods and services has given the mall its 'Little Burma' title. Composed of small, mostly family-owned businesses, one can find traditional clothing, authentic Burmese food, Myanmar Lager, and even a Burmese-language library.
DICKSON ROAD, the next stop, is a street where used electronic goods are freely displayed and traded. Despite its location in the heart of Little India, this street has managed to sustain a unique identity, avoiding any dominant ethnic association. Over the years, however, trendy tourist accommodations have sprung up on the street's end, creating even greater mixture within this heterotopia.
Finally, travel east towards GOLDEN MILE COMPLEX, the prototypical module of an architectural vision. Golden Mile complex could have been replicated along the entire coastline to form a 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. To finish, be sure to try some authentic Thai food at one of the many Thai restaurants located around the Complex's long atrium.
Dignified businesses by day, sex and violence by night. You will find the Embassies of Romania and Cambodia upstairs and Naughty Girl downstairs, all working together to sustain and add intrigue to this dual-building which may otherwise be forgotten among the newer, fancier malls of Orchard Road.
Situated in the heart of Orchard Road, Lucky Plaza once dominated the retail scene, drawing large crowds and tourist shoppers. Over time, it evolved into a cultural centre for Filipinos in Singapore, hosting products and services that cater to migrants from the Philippines.
Known widely as the ‘Little Burma’ of Singapore, Peninsula Plaza stands out with its distinctive arched façade. A privately commissioned reinterpretation of the podium and tower typology, it has since been appropriated by the local migrant Burmese population, filled with shops and services akin to that of their homeland.
Wedged between the ethnic offerings of Little India, trendy tourist accommodations, and the trades of Jalan Besar, Dickson Road found its place as a centre of transition for used goods, charmingly oblivious to the goings-on around it.
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.