Friday, January 23, 2015

Project Jurong - Exploring the neighbourhood Part II

Talking about Jurong, I am sure many locals know it is an industrial area in the West of Singapore. Do you know that there is more to it? I am not talking about the Jurong Bird Park, Chinese Garden , Science Centre or NTU. Well, I certainly learn more during my 2nd session of TRANS.

Jurong has been part of my life for at least 10 years. I studied in Jurong and worked in Jurong. I am frequently go to Jurong East shopping malls and in the past, Jurong Point shopping mall but yet there is more areas to explore other than  these. It was only 2 years ago I went to the Chinese Gardens but I have yet to land my feet into Japanese Gardens which is just next to it. You could see how little I explore the little red dot in the past decades of my life.

The previous week, we took photos of the modern Jurong. This session we were supposed to travel to the old historic sites of Jurong to take photo. We have with us, Dr Lai Chee Kien, a historian, who told us the history of Jurong. The idea was to capture the essence of Jurong via our lens.

History of Jurong

Jurong used to be a swampy, hilly area. How was it transform to its present state, an industrial estate with residential area and amenities combined?

In many countries, industrial area are separated from residential area. However, this is not the case for Singapore. There are actually residential areas in Jurong. In order to clean the air in Jurong, lots of trees and plants were planted wherever an estate is built. Hence, Jurong developed as a “garden industrial town”, residential areas are named as gardens. Eg. Taman Jurong, Pandan Gardens and Teban Gardens. The segmentation of land use plays an important part in the town planning. The heavy industries were nearer to the coast and not next to the residential areas.

Former Jurong Town Hall 

The development and management of Jurong Industrial area took place in the Old Jurong Town Hall (now known as iHub). This was set up in 1 June 1968. This building used to house the Jurong Town Corporation.

This distinctive landmark of Jurong was designed by Architects Team 3. It was the winning entry as a result of an architectural design competition conducted in 1968. The 5 storey building was completed in 1974. It was conserved in 25 November 2005. What is interesting about this architecture is that it looked like a ship from a distance with the digital watch tower looking like a periscope or mast overseeing the development of Jurong. This design, I think, is very apt for Jurong because of the vision to transform Jurong Port into an international multi purpose port and to support the growth of Jurong Industrial Estate. Clock Tower was common in those days but this digital clock tower is first of its kind. It was sponsored by Seiko. Digital clock was a fashionable thing back then and the Former Jurong Town Hall was the first to have a digital clock tower.

Former Jurong Town Hall

Pandan Reservoir

This is the largest service reservoir, located near Penjuru Road, plays an important part in Singapore industrialization. It provides non-potable water to the surrounding industrial areas and in particular, the Jurong Industrial Estate. It is formed by damming the mouth of Sungei Pandan, It is currently managed and maintained by the Public Utilities Board of Singapore.

My first visit at Pandan Reservoir

Kayaking is one of the activity in this reservoir

Jurong Hill

It is a 60 meters tall scenic hill. If I am not wrong, this is the only hill left in Jurong. Commanding a panoramic view of Jurong Town since 1971, the hill became a well known landmark. It was a popular spot for wedding photos. The park was constructed by JTC Corporation. Within the park is a "garden of fame", are many trees planted by visiting foreign dignitaries, such as Queen Elizabeth II and Deng Xiao Ping.  There is a look-out tower where one can get an aerial view of Jurong. Jurong Bird Park is located on the western slope of Jurong Hill. There used to be a Hilltop Japanese Restuarant here.

Look out tower

Ariel view of Pulat Damar Laut with Jurong Pier Flyover and Jurong Industrial Estate in the foreground and  Jurong Islands (where Singapore's petrochemical industries took off) in the background. What I like is the design of the bridge .  

H-shaped JTC flats

Many Singaporeans knew of HDB (Housing and Development Board) flats, a fraction probably knew of flats built by SIT (Singapore Improvement Trust, predecessor of HDB) which are located mainly in Tiong Bahru and Old Airport Road. However, I doubt many knew of flats built by JTC, located mainly in the industrial area such as Jurong and Sembawang. I am one swaku.

These flats by JTC were built to provide housing for people who worked in Jurong. These flats looked like the letter H from top view. We visited these 2 blocks of flats, Blk 171 and 172 Boon Lay drive. What is special about these flats is that these 2 blocks of flats share 1 common lift which was built in between the 2 blocks. In those days, these arrangement foster good relationships between neighbours as they are bound to meet each other when they use 1 common lift. These flats have some common corridors linking to the lift. If I have more time, I would probably share some more photos of these flats. Some of these flats have windows to view onto the corridors, probably good to monitor the kids at play while the moms are working their chores around the flats.

We love these flats, they are unique in their own way. Unfortunately, these 2 blocks are marked for en-bloc.

Blk 171 and 172 Boon Lay Drive

Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle (Dragon Kiln)

Thow Kwang Pottery is one of the 2 remaining dragon kilns in Singapore. It is almost 70 years old. This was the second time I visited the place. As my camera was running low on battery since I have been taking photos for about 3 hours, I did not take much pictures.

The dragon kiln lies on the slope of a hill, this allows hot air to raise towards the tail of the tunnel when the fire chamber (dragon head) is being fired. It is currently being fired only twice a year.

The historic value of this wood firing place is great. Wood firing is a dying art in Singapore. The owner, Mrs Yulianti Tan, keeps the kiln running due to her strong passion to keep the art and tradition alive.

According to Dr Lai, Jurong's red clay were good to make bricks. Many of the hills made way for housing estates and the Industrial Estate. Sad to say, none of these bricks factories survived today due to the competition of the availability of a cheaper alternative: concrete slabs that were imported to Singapore.

What was interesting was that our fellow photographers managed to find bricks made from Jurong Brick Works here. Bricks that were made in Singapore had their factory names imprinted onto the brick recess.

If you are interested in reading more about the kiln, you may want to visit The long and winding road

Thow Kwang conducts classes and they sell pottery as well.

Location: 85  Lorong Tawas, off Jalan Bahar, Singapore

Ink Transfer programme
We did the ink transfer onto the kites the next day. We made 50 kites for SG50, these would be exhibited in Jurong Regional Library later this year. 

I am glad that I participated this library programme. Not only did I get to learn more about photography techniques, I also learn more about Jurong. Furthermore, I made some new friends!

Other interesting places in Jurong

  • Jurong Eco Garden (Just next to Thow Kwang, in fact, Thow Kwang almost made way for it)
  • Museum @ Taman Jurong
  • Jurong KTMB Railway
  • NTU arches
  • Singapore Discovery Centre and Singapore Army Museum
  • Science Centre
  • Jurong Bird Park
  • Jurong Park Connector
  • Mosaic Clock House Playground @ Blk 176 Boon Lay Drive
Exploring Jurong Series: 
Trans Project (Modern Jurong) Project Jurong Part 1
Trans Project (Olden Jurong) Project Jurong Part 2

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