History of Pearl Bank, Singapore
One Pearl Bank is a residential development that was completed in 1976 and became the first densest and tallest residential building in Singapore. Pearl Bank is the pioneer of high-density living, high-rise and has significant influence on urban development in Singapore and the nearby cities in Southeast Asia. Its design can be attributed to the then-popular architectural style, Brutalism. The building was designed by Tan Cheng Siong, a Singaporean architect from Archurban Architects Planners.
The Pearl Bank Apartments rises to the 38th floor in a hollow ¾ cylindrical shape. The design closely resembles a horseshoe and houses 1500 residents. After it was completed, it became the first building with the highest number of units in one block with the highest density at 1,853 persons per hectare.
Pear Bank’s horseshoe shape enabled the architects to minimize the materials used to achieve the smallest wall-to-floor ratio. The cylindrical shape enables residents to enjoy unobstructed panoramic views, ventilation and allows daylight penetration.
The motivation behind its development was to rejuvenate the Central Area and to deliver more residential options that suit the family needs people from the middle and upper classes. It was the first all-housing project from the Urban Renewal Department.
Being the pioneer high rise residential project in Singapore, several efforts have been made by heritage lovers, the owners, students, and architects to preserve Pearl Bank. This is due to its high historical and architectural value and significance. In 2012, Tan Cheng Siong who is the principal architect and other owners proposed a voluntary conservation project due to uprising concerns that the units did not meet the required conditions of urban rejuvenation. The deteriorating conditions of Pearl Bank were also of great concern.
According to the proposal, Tan wanted to increase the gross floor area of the units. It included the construction of a carpark on top of the 5-storey and a new block of 150 units. He also wanted to include additional communal spaces like an infinite pool and to renovate the tower. The cost was to be covered by the sale from the apartments. However, only 91% of the tenants agreed to the project by signing making the project short from the required 100% approval by the authorities.
On 4th Aug 2007, the Pearl Bank was put up for a collective sale with the first tender closing on 8th September without any bids. The second tender closed on 19th Feb 2008 with no bids again, and the collective sale agreement lapsed on 1st Aug 2008. The Pearl Bank Apartments were officially sold in a collective sale to CapitaLand on 13th Feb 2018 for $728 million. Residents have been compensated and issued notice to move out by April 2019 to pay the way for redevelopment of the site. The developer has plans to build a high-rise development featuring about 800 units. Although there is no conservation cited in the collective sale agreement, the developer promises to blend the heritage elements with modern designs to display the culture of Chinatown.