Progress is of course a good thing. New developments, new amenities, more and better infrastructure, all these are projects that a nation needs to undertake, in order to move up to the next level, to satisfy the ever-increasing demands and needs from a growing population. Progress can come at a price however, and it would be sad if we look back in a generation’s time and realise the cost of that progress is the complete eradication of everything that came before. The things that we all grew up with. The things that made Singapore, Singapore. That is why it is such good news what is happening with the former national aerated water factory on Serangoon Road.
A Singaporean Icon
The building is like an old friend for many of us Singaporeans, who remember it in its heyday, or perhaps, just have got used to seeing it on the daily commute. It conjures up days of old, when life seemed to be a lot simpler.
Built in 1954, the distinctive art deco, L shaped, two storey building was where such delights as Kickapoo Joy Juice and Sinalco were made and bottled by the National Aerated Water Co. Ltd. Its location on the Kallang River and Serangoon Road, made it an ideal location for ease of transport, and was why the area was popular with many other manufacturers and logistic companies, whose warehouses were a feature of the area.
Due to a downturn in demand along with contractual disputes and cancellations, the once state of the art factory ceased production shortly before the end of the last century. Since then it has stood idle, patiently awaiting the next stage of its history.
A New Beginning
As long ago as 2007, there was talk that the building would be preserved. Then in December of 2017, the URA announced that not only would it be saved from demolition, but it would be integrated into a new development. Malaysian developer Selangor Dredging Berhad (SDB) bought the plot and will work hand in hand with the URA to restore the factory and integrate it into a plush new launch condominium. Jui Residences – whose address is 1177 Serangoon Road – will appropriately house 117 units along with all of the facilities you would expect of a modern condo, including a lap pool and a roof terrace that will sit on top of the old factory building. The new building will be sympathetic to the factory’s design and art work in the shared areas will reflect the site’s past.
The non-residential part of the development will also be open to the public, so they can get close and personal to a piece of the island’s history. The announcement that the former factory will be saved comes on the back of a similar one concerning Dakota Crescent, and hopefully marks a sea change in the way our heritage is preserved – namely not just in photos and gradually fading memories, but in the preservation of the buildings themselves.