Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ulu Pandan Heritage Trail (2) – Pandan Valley (by Peter Chan)

I don’t usually follow any of our locally-produced TV drama serials; be it English or Mandarin. The first and only time I did was “Masters of The Sea”. Who could forget Koh Cheng Mun’s “I’ll crush him like a cockroach”. So it was a pleasant surprise when I came across “En Bloc”. That the drama has the lovely Andrea Fonseka is not the reason. I quickly recognized a few familiar landmarks. “En Bloc” was filmed using the backdrop of Pandan Valley, a condominium off Ulu Pandan Road. Lim Beng Teck’s Minmart was certainly on the void deck of Eugenia or Chempaka Court.

Pandan Valley was the first private condominium built in Singapore and developed at the height of the property boom in 1975. It was left vacant until 1978 when the project was re-launched by DBS Land, the property arm of DBS Bank. Somehow Pandan Valley never gained popularity with expatriates or upper middle-income Singaporeans. Those people preferred Ridgewood, a condominium located behind Pandan Valley. Could it be the case that Pandan Valley was lying in District 21 and Richwood in District 10?

There were many other differences between Ridgewood and Pandan Valley. Ridgewood was built and owned by Dillingham Inc. Ridgewood offered a Hawaiian theme for its architecture and the garden-landscape, whereas Pandan Valley had largely a strong “Singaporean” influence of Spartan interior finishes and large floor spaces. The cheapest unit in Pandan Valley was priced at S$98,000 with tower block penthouses going for S$280,000 at that time. Pandan Valley was a mixed development, a first concept for any private sector housing project in Singapore. It had both retail space and residential units. There was the Yamaha Music School at the block nearest to Ulu Pandan Road.

Fig 1: Pandan Valley viewed from Jalan Jelita (circa 1977). The block on the extreme left is Ridgewood

Fig 2: I am standing in the open space between Poinsetta Tower and Poinciana Tower (circa 1979)

Fig 2A: The swimming pool at Pandan Valley (circa 1979)

Before Pandan Valley was built, it was a hilly terrain with low vegetation. It was frequently used as a training area by 1 SIR in the early 1960s. 1 SIR was the original “tenants” of the former School of Military Medicine.

Fig 3: The hills opposite 1SIR which would become the future Pandan Valley (circa 1958)

Will Pandan Valley go through an enbloc sale? Stay tune every Wednesday on Channel 5 as the drama unfolds.


Zen said...

frankly speaking I do not know the western part of Singapore very well though I may from time to time passed by. In fact one of relatives is living in Pandan Valley condo. Recently I heard that the residents are quite relunctant to foot the bill for upgrading of the lifts which I think must have been rather old. Chun See regretted very much that he has no photos showing the extensive piece of former cantonese grave-yard land with 8 parcel lots described as teng l to 8, all lumped together called Pek San Teng which has now transformed into a large HDB estate known as Bishan. One cynical fellow likened the former Pek San Teng as 'mahjong land' why? He joked that if person woke up in the morning, looking at PST from Braddell View Condo., he would see row upon row of grave-stones that looked like mahjong tiles. This guy won't laugh any more now if he is to buy a resold flat at Bishan which costs more than any other similar flats in Singapore all because of the big-name schools like Raffles and Catholic High moving into this prime district.

Victor said...

Peter, er... were you topless in figure 2? Looks like a slightly bigger, er... I mean more muscular figure compared to now. A rather formidable rugby opponent.

Anonymous said...

Hello! Regarding Masters of the Sea, it was Margaret Chan who said that famous line, not Koh Chieng Mun.


Mitch Doan said...

Hello Mr.Lam! Thank you so much for these Pandan valley's old pictures. I had lived there for 3 years, at Acacia court, i love pandan valley so much, especially the swimming pool, the pool's now are much different from ur pictures, it looks like we are in south america:d would you mind uploading more if you do have any other Pandan valley pictures, i'm very appreciated (Mitch Dwan)

peter said...

Thanks anonymous for the correction. That tells you how much I follow our local media productions.

Chun See must correct that lah!

peter said...

Mitch Doan,

Will be a good idea if u can take some photos of those same places that I have shown in the article. I have not seen Pandan Valley for 30 years already. Is there a POSB Bank still? Do they have the squash courts at the foot of each block still?

Thanks for reminding me the name of the third slab block called Acacia. I thought it was something sounding like that similar to another condo down at Adams Road.

Alex said...

Brother Chun See, it is very interesting to come across your blog tonight. It is such a memorable pleasure to look at those old photographs and comments made on old Singapore. I grew up in the same era, and I shared the same sentinments. I will go through my old photo albums and hope to make some contributions to your blog. By the way, I am currently staying at Pandan Valley. I can't figure out how the swimming pool in the photo looked so much different from today's. Is that a totally different pool at a different site?