Singapore has gone a long way since the country gained independence 57 years ago on 9 August 1965. As a young nation, Singapore has shown great resilience and progress through the years with buildings around the island bearing witness through it all — if these buildings could talk, what would they tell us?
We take the Audi e-tron GT for a spin to visit some of these sites, just in time for National Day.
The roads and streets that make up Singapore’s Chinatown were as busy then as they are now. Club Street and Ann Siang is one of five precincts that make up Chinatown. This was where the early Hokkien and South Indian Muslim communities settled in the 1980s. As its name suggests, Club Street was home to many Chinese clubs that catered to Chinese clan associations and wealthy businessmen.
This three-storey residential building, with its distinct Chinese-styled roof and awnings, still stands today as a condominium. Look closely beyond the present-day façade and you will see that the modern additions extend behind the road-facing buildings, housing living spaces and amenities within.
Bukit Pasoh is another precinct within Chinatown which was given conservation area status in 1989. A quick stroll or drive around the area and you will see colourful conserved shophouses rich in history and inspiring architecture.
One building in particular, 31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road, has seen a whole host of tenants through the years. It was built around 1928 and functioned as a small hotel before it was given a facelift in 2006 as the New Majestic Hotel. It received another modern upgrade in 2018 when it was turned into a swanky private members club, Straits Clan. These days it is home to Mandala Club, a private members club which took residence in the building in 2021.
When Clifford Pier first opened in 1933, it served as a key landing and departure point for anyone travelling to and from Singapore via sea. The pier lived through the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1942 to 1945, after which, parts damaged by the war were renovated to restore the pier to its former glory. It continued to function as a pier though traffic dwindled as more piers opened in other parts of the country and air transport gained popularity.
The pier officially ceased operations in 2006 and was gazetted for conservation in 2007. It housed One On The Bund, an upscale contemporary Chinese restaurant, from 2008 to 2014, before reopening as The Clifford Pier. Today, it is an eponymous dining and event venue that provides a stunning backdrop for corporate events, weddings and galas, and is situated within The Fullerton Heritage precinct, a waterfront dining and hospitality complex established in 2010.
Clarke Quay is another area that was significant to the country’s development. It served as a dock for loading and unloading cargo in the early 1880s as the warehouses were all conveniently situated along the Singapore River. It was gazetted as a heritage conservation area in 1989 and was redeveloped through the years to the commercial and entertainment district we know today.
The road Tan Tye Place was named after a prominent Hokkien businessman who was known as the ‘Pineapple King’ for making his fortune in canned pineapples in mid to late 1880s. One of his canneries was in Clarke Quay and the buildings still stand today as food and beverage and entertainment venues.
Looking at all these landmarks around the island, it is easy to feel a sense of nostalgia and wonder at how far Singapore has come since its early days as a British Empire trading station in the 19th century. Likewise, Audi’s history also began in the 19th century when it was founded by August Horch in 1899. In 1971, the company slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik” was coined. It remains one of the brand’s guiding principles, leading Audi to innovate and develop the Audi quattro technology, and more recently, Audi’s fleet of all-electric vehicles.