8 quirky landmarks of Singapore’s heartlands

Which is Singapore’s “most beautiful” estate or the “safest” park on the little red dot? Go heartland hopping with us to find out.

8 quirky landmarks of Singapore’s heartlands
8 quirky landmarks of Singapore’s heartlands
15 Jul 2015

8 quirky landmarks of Singapore’s heartlands

They may not be as famous as the Esplanade or the Merlion, but Singapore is dotted with quirky and colourful landmarks in the heartlands. Mostly created to beautify or add character to the neighbourhood, they have since become an icon in the estates they reside in. Click on to check out these lesser-known attractions and the stories behind them.

The four beauties of ancient China
The four beauties of ancient China
15 Jul 2015

The four beauties of ancient China

Where: Simei Streets 1 to 4

Simei is overwhelmed by beauty, literally! Gracing the walls of void decks at various HDB blocks are murals of China’s four ancient beauties Xi Shi, Diao Chan, Yang Guifei and Wang Zhaojun.

Xi Shi resides at the lift lobby of blocks 116 and 123 in Simei Street 1, Diao Chan at blocks 141 and 146 in Simei Street 2, while Wang Zhaojun can be found at blocks 226 and 229 in Simei Street 4. Yang Guifei, the only one with one mural, is at block 107 in Simei Street 1. Simei, which means “four beauties” in Chinese, was named after the quartet.

But it is not just the estate, previously major roads also bore the names of the four beauties. They were renamed Simei Streets 1 to 4 following complaints that they were too difficult to pronounce and subsequently the portraits, each about 2 metres tall, were added to the blocks in 1987 and 1988. Each mural reportedly cost S$800.

Photos: HDB
 

Dragon playground
Dragon playground
15 Jul 2015

Dragon playground

Where: Toa Payoh Lorong 6

Once a forgotten playground, the old-school red dragon playground situated along Toa Payoh Lorong 6 has received so much media coverage in recent years that it has become an icon of the estate.

One of the oldest playgrounds in Singapore, it was designed by Khor Ean Ghee, a former designer at the Housing and Development Board and built in 1979. Covered with mosaic tiles and built atop a sand pit, the playground retains much of its originality.

Well-loved not just in Singapore but also abroad (it was named one of the world’s most amazing playgrounds by a New York blog), the 36-year-old playground was saved from the wrecking ball last year when four blocks of flats around it were demolished. It also has a lesser-known cousin beside block 240 at Toa Payoh Lorong 1 and two more in Ang Mo Kio and Circuit Road.

Dragon fountain
Dragon fountain
15 Jul 2015

Dragon fountain

Where: Whampoa Drive

Emerging from a fountain in Balestier is also a dragon which has seen better days. Located near block 85 Whampoa Drive, the majestic 4 metre-tall dragon used to light up and sprout water. Broken ceramic bowls, glass and marbles form the scales on its body.

Constructed in 1973, the fountain was originally in a much larger park but it was downsized due to the construction of the Central Expressway in the early 1980s. Though the fountain has ceased functioning, it was refurbished in recent years and is now filled with plants.

Dinosaur playground
Dinosaur playground
15 Jul 2015

Dinosaur playground

Where: Kim Keat Avenue

Tucked in the quiet neighbourhood of Kim Keat, across from the dragon playground, is Singapore’s own “Jurassic Park”. An odd-looking dinosaur-themed playground built in 2000, you won’t find staples such as swings or monkey bars here. Instead, stomping the ground in front of block 27 Kim Keat Avenue is a rather menacing-looking 3 metre-tall tyrannosaurus sculpture, while a smaller one and a pile of eggs sit beside it. There is also a green stegosaurus-shaped play bridge for kids while daring ones can attempt to climb up the back of the T-Rex. Not a bad place for a picnic after catching Jurassic World at the cinema!


The windmill
The windmill
15 Jul 2015

The windmill

Where: Holland Village

Contrary to popular assumption, Holland Village, wasn’t named after the country Holland but Holland Road. However, that hasn’t stopped the windmill, which that sits atop Holland V Shopping Mall, from becoming a landmark of this area. In fact, it was often featured in popular Channel 8 drama Holland V, which was set in the quaint neighbourhood.

However, unlike real windmills that rely on wind to turn its sails, this one runs on electricity and was quite a recent addition to the estate. Before the mall was constructed in the early noughties, it was a non-descript commercial building and prior to that, the area was occupied by an open-air cinema. Operated by Eng Wah Theatre, it was demolished in 1986.


Red tomato sculptures
Red tomato sculptures
15 Jul 2015

Red tomato sculptures

Where: Ang Mo Kio

Like Holland Village, there have been misconceptions that the name of Ang Mo Kio was derived from the Hokkien term for tomatoes. However, there were no tomato farms in the vicinity. It was only in the mid noughties that giant red tomatoes in the form of sculptures started sprouting up around the estate.

They were found on top of the popular S-11 food court at the town centre (that has since been removed), “planted” in flowerbeds (the ones pictured are near AMK Hub), and even in unexpected nooks and spots. The sculptures have since become iconic in this estate.

Did you know? Tomatoes weren’t the only quirky landmarks in Ang Mo Kio. A pair of Merlions statues used to greet residents at the carpark entrance of blocks 216 to 222. They had to be removed in 2010 as they were not authorised by the Singapore Tourism Board, who owns all intellectual properties of Merlion.
 

Rainbow flats
Rainbow flats
15 Jul 2015

Rainbow flats

Where: Hougang Avenue 7

Rainbows may be a rare sight for many, but not if you live in Hougang. Splashed across the façade of block 316 at Hougang Avenue 7, this bright and cheery rainbow mural has been a landmark since the flats were built in the early 1980s. Originally painted in a different direction, the mural has since received numerous makeovers. A less famous rainbow block can also be found along Bedok Reservoir Road.

Guard sculptures
Guard sculptures
15 Jul 2015

Guard sculptures

Where: Katong Park

Katong Park, one of Singapore’s oldest parks, is probably also the “safest”, thanks to a cute pair of soldiers guarding it. Donated by Katong resident Jack Sim, who also rediscovered the buried Fort Tanjong Katong under the park in 2001, the sculptures of the British and Sikh guards “serve to symbolise the multi-ethnic civil defence forces of Singapore in the 19th century”. Found in front of the park, along Fort Road, the guards have become an icon in Katong.

Photo: http://j0035001-2.blogspot.sg

Related:
6 Singapore brands that are hip overseas
11 food crazes that rocked Singapore
15 things you miss about Singapore when you go overseas

Report a problem