10 Facts About Rochor Centre & Its Demolition That S’poreans Should Know

Image: gnohz / Shutterstock.com + Goody Feed Fools

If you guys have been keeping up with the news, you would know that since 2016, plans to demolish the iconic Rochor Centre have been in play.

And on 26 June, the demolition will finally take place.

So if you haven’t seen this “Singaporean attraction” yet, please make your way down over the next few days.

This isn’t the first place to be demolished in Singapore that has many memories attached to it. I’m sure that wounds are still fresh from when the East Coast Park McDonald’s was demolished (the new one is just too hipster lah).

And with it, many childhood memories.

So in light of this, here are 10 facts about Rochor Centre and its demolition that might be of interest to you.

1. It was designed to be very community-oriented.

Image: ChannelNewsAsia

The way the blocks at Rochor Centre were laid out, are very different to the normal HDB flats we have grown accustomed to seeing and even living in.

It was built in a ‘podium-and-tower’ style, with the 4 blocks sharing a communal playground on the fourth floor podium. They also have three floors of retail space.

This is typical of 1970s HDB architecture, where it was less utilitarian and more community-oriented (i.e. kampong).

If you are wondering where else in Singapore has such architecture been retained, Shenton House will be that place.

2. It did not always have its iconic colours. 

Some people already know this, but others (me included) did not actually know this fact until recently.

Rochor Centre didn’t always have its iconic colours. It used to be plain white in colour just like standard HDB flats of the time.

It was only in 1994 that it got its signature colours of blue, pink, green and yellow in different shades. Kinda like an awesome ombre.

It became such an icon in Singapore, that couples even had their pre-wedding photoshoots with Rochor Centre in the background!

You know what’s interesting, though? Rochor Centre’s architecture and colours are quite reminiscent of flats you’ll find in Pyongyang, North Korea. Super cool! Kim Jong-Un should have visited the HDB seh.

3. Evacuations started in 2016.

Image: The Straits Times

Since Rochor Centre is a residential area, the people living in there obviously had to move out so that the place could be demolished, right?

And so residents were told to evacuate by the end of 2016, much to their dismay as many of them really loved the area and been living there for all their lives. Residents got relocation benefits similar to the ones offered under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

Which means that basically, they got new 99-year lease homes, as well as a package with compensation and relocation benefits.

4. A major policy change in SERS resulted from the evacuation.

By the end of December 2016, almost all the residents due for evacuation had collected their keys already.

And out of the 567 households living from Blocks 1-4 at Rochor Road, 9 out of 10 households were set to be moved to a replacement flat at Kallang Trivista.

However, at the time, under the SERS program, they were only offered one place to go (Kallang Trivista), which many residents found deeply unfair as it wasn’t their choice to move in the first place.

The Government did concede with this and a major policy change resulted from the notion that residents wanted to be close to family so forcing them to all be in one replacement housing estate was really not fair and very unwarranted.

The policy change allowed affected residents to choose to move to BTOs or other new flats in different housing estates.

Since this change, any affected residents from other projects under SERS are also able to choose where they would like to move.

5. What happened to Rochor Centre from point of evacuation till today?

Image: MINDEF

Rochor Centre was left empty after residents left till today. But it wasn’t left to rot, don’t worry.

Disused spaces in Singapore are typically used by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) to conduct military training exercises as it provides realistic urban training opportunities for SAFs.

And in July last year, that’s what Rochor Centre was used for.

It turned into a firing ground, utilising pyrotechnics and training ammunition all week. The exercise allowed for some really handy homeland security exercises for the SAFs and people were warned to stay away from the area during that time.

Honestly, I wish they would have included me in this cool AF roleplaying exercise. No military experience but a big fan of zombie apocalypse shows/movie so 10/10 knows how to survive. And earn kill points. xD Like this video we’ve done:

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6. Who is in-charge of demolishing Rochor Centre?

The contractors in-charge of demolishing this iconic piece of Singaporean history will be Aik Sun Demolition and Engineering. They were awarded a $1.8 million tender last year by the LTA to demolish and reinstate the Rochor Centre area.

Aik Sun has had quite a lot of experience with demolition and reinstatement – you would want to hope so for a project as big as the one being undertaken!

They were in-charge of the Leedon Heights, Robinson Road, Stevens Road and Tampines Stadium projects.

All their projects have been quite large-scale and notable, as they have been in-charge of redeveloping some of these key areas in Singapore.

So at least we know they have plenty of experience and know what they are doing.

The demolition is expected to start on June 26 this year and finish in April 2019.

The demolition for something as huge as Rochor Centre will be undertaken by using excavators and concrete breakers and crushers to take it from the top down.

7. There are measures in place to reduce impact on those living around the demolition site.

To make life easier and safer for pedestrians, temporary sheltered walkways will be put up at alternative routes around the area.

Clear signages at public access areas to redirect people will also be put up.

The demolition area will be enclosed with noise barriers and dust screens to reduce the amount of noise and dust in the air. Water spraying systems will also be used to suppress the spread of airborne dust particles that may irritate people.

The contractors will be monitored closely to ensure that they comply with the permissible noise levels stipulated under current regulations. If they don’t comply, you can give a call in to LTA.

But definitely familiarise yourself with what the current regulations are first!

8. What is the North-South Corridor?

Image: LandTransportAuthority

So I’m sure you keep hearing about Rochor Centre being demolished to make way for the new North-South Corridor.

If you’re wondering what on earth that is, read on.

The North-South Corridor (NSC) is essentially a 21.5km expressway with cycling trunk routes and continuous bus paths to connect Northern neighbourhoods like Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun and Ang Mo Kio with the city area.

It will cut down travelling time by about 30 minutes from these neighbourhoods to the city with the express bus services (if you are like me and live in Woodlands, you’ll be able to appreciate what a huge godsend this is).

The cycling trunks will also allow avid cyclists to be able to bike into the city safely, creating an alternative means of transport.

The NSC is expected to be completed by 2026.

9. With Terminal 5 already costing an arm, a leg and then some, what is the NSC going to cost?

If you haven’t already heard, building Terminal 5 in Singapore is going to be costing us tens of billions of dollars.

So in light of that, how much is the NSC going to cost us to construct?

Well, compared to Terminal 5 it is not a lot, lah.

Just your regular $1.16 billion dollars.

No big deal, right guys?

It’s actually not that expensive by Singapore’s standards as it does have quite a few big (by big I mean expensive) projects it is undertaking over the next few years.

Like the construction of the Thomson-East Coast line (which we are of course just going to call the Brown Line) that has cost about $18 billion dollars, and of course Terminal 5.

So the construction of the NSC that will honestly make commuting easier from the North costing just over 1 billion dollars doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

At least y’all can’t make jokes about Woodlands people needing a passport to go home anymore. That itself is worth 1 billion dollars, okay?

10. Rochor Centre Digital Preservation

Yes, it’s true. We can never walk through Rochor Centre again, or check out the shops there or play in the playground or take our #hipster pictures there ever again.

Because after 26 June, it will be gone for good.

This will break the hearts of many, as it is something of a Singaporean heritage icon. But we now live in a digital world.

Which comes with some perks.

One of them being that Rochor Centre will be forever digitally preserved.

Local photography studio, Haroko Studio, has created a 360degree virtual photography tour of Rochor Centre, aimed towards preserving its memory amongst Singaporeans.

This means that in the future, we can ‘visit’ this iconic building online and reminisce over what once was.

Better than nothing, if you ask me.

Well, don’t forget to say your goodbyes and take your final pictures over the next few days.

Oh, actually, if you want to, just insert Photoshop yourself in. It’s a trend nowadays, isn’t it?

Just like our featured image.

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Rachael Divya

Rachael Divya

Life is one big adventure, so you can find her on the next flight out. (But when flights are too expensive, you can find her in bed catching up on the twenty TV shows she’s decided to watch.) Food time is her favourite time of every day, and way too many things interest her so now she’s just a jumbled-up ball of curiosity navigating this messy, happy little world she has.
Rachael Divya