Sorry, but Pearl Bank Apartments is quite a terrible place to stay at

It is old and falling apart, says one former tenant.

By Belmont Lay | February 14, 2018

News of Pearl Bank Apartments being sold off has created a bit of buzz in Singapore.

This is so as its sale signals its impending demise as the building will be torn down to make way for a new development.

Talk of conserving the iconic apartment block in Outram area will also be shelved as a result.

Architectural marvel

When it was completed in 1976, it was the tallest residential building in Singapore at that time. It is still an architectural marvel as it houses the largest number of apartments contained in a single block in Singapore: 272, including eight penthouses.

Pearl Bank Apartments amazing uniquely S’porean design, explained

But 42 years is a long time for any building to be in existence.

The merits of conserving Singapore’s buildings and architecture is usually met with lively discussions.

To talk about building up communities and preserving the past is to always be on the right side of the discussion.

To speak from the perspective of owners who feel it is time to let go is to stand accused of letting vested monetary interests get in the way of dialogue due to the prospects of cashing out millions from a property.

Rarely heard of is the perspective of those who have indeed been a part of the community.

Until now.

Pearl Bank resident first-hand account

One former Pearl Banks Apartment resident who rented a place in the building has spoken up and talked about the run down conditions of the building.

The worse for wear conditions is due to the lack of maintenance and general wear and tear over the years that have taken its collective toll.

The post was put up on Feb. 14, 2018:

Among the problems mentioned are

• the problematic lifts that break down often and always under maintenance resulting in one overworked lift running

• weak water pressure due to piping problems

• the presence of pests such as centipedes and cockroaches

• falling bits of plaster from the ceiling

• and the presence of short-term foreign AirBnB tenants

This problem of neglect and lack of maintenance can be solved with some money, but it appears tenants and owners are no longer willing to pay the required amount to upkeep the place

Here is the post in full:

On Pearl Bank Apartment

There’s been quite a bit of buzz in the news about the en-bloc sale of Pearl Bank, and a few opinion pieces calling for the conservation of this iconic building. I thought I’d put my view out there, because if not for the fact that I’ve actually lived in Pearl Bank for the last two years (as a tenant, not an owner, so I don’t profit from the en-bloc), I would have agreed with people who say that Pearl Bank should be preserved – for its gorgeous architecture, unique design, and historical value. I love good architecture, and I’ll be sad to see Pearl Bank demolished.

But having actually lived in this building that I was initially starry-eyed about, I honestly can’t wait to move out (when our new apartment is ready) and I wouldn’t recommend living in this building to my friends – so I’m glad that it’s been sold en-bloc, and I hope that it will be redeveloped to become a liveable home for future residents. Even if that requires it to be torn down and rebuilt.

The apartment is sadly but surely becoming increasingly unliveable. At any one time, of the 2-3 lifts close to my apartment (the rest are quite a walk away, because each cluster of 4 flats has 1 lift serving it), 1 or 2 is usually under maintenance. That means that the remaining lift is overworked, and I often have to wait >15 minutes for the lift during peak hours in the morning, and the lift usually stops at at least 5 floors (the maximum I counted once was stopping at 10 floors; I live on the 26th floor and the lift only stops at even floors because of the dual-floor apartment structure, so the theoretical maximum is stopping at 13 floors).

Apart from that, my water pressure is weak, due to problems with the water pipes/plumbing. I encounter centipedes once every few months (once, I woke with a start because there was a centipede crawling on my arm), cockroaches every now and then, and I constantly have to deal with ants. Bits of plaster from my bathroom ceiling also fall down from time to time.

It’s no wonder that few of the original owners are willing to continue living in this building. Most of the people who live here are foreign tenants and AirBnB backpackers. And that perpetuates problems of insufficient maintenance within apartments, as well as for shared facilities like lifts.

So, even though I really love this place, and I’m thankful that I had the chance to live here for a couple of years, I hope that Pearl Bank will start afresh. Yes, it’s a loss for our history – but Pearl Bank has not aged well, and preserving an apartment building which people don’t want to live in is pointless. Critics of en-bloc sales sometimes forget that en-bloc isn’t always about the money – it’s about rejuvenating old buildings that are falling into disrepair.

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of Pearl Bank that I took, so I’m including a photo that I found online. I’ll miss you, Pearl Bank, but I think it’s about time you go!

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Top photo via Jnzl’s Photos Flickr

About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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