Sunday, February 20, 2011

#2 Art Deco Shophouses, 230/246 Balestier Road

Situated just across the road from the Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple is the row of shophouses famous for their Art Deco style. In fact, looking at the shophouses, they are a stark contrast from their surrounding buildings, almost as if someone had transplanted these buildings from 1930s America and stuck them in the middle of Balestier Road. Truly, they stick out like the proverbial "sore thumb". Though if we ignore that they look so out of place in the Balestier "skyline", one cannot help but admire the clean, sharp styles that these buildings are famous for.

The Art Deco architecture style was developed in Europe and the United States during the 1920s-1930s. What distinguishes this style is its simple, clean shapes and streamline looks. The Empire State Building in New York is perhaps one of the best known examples of this style. In Singapore, this style was very prevalent/popular during the 1930s-1960s, mainly because that despite being very simple, it gives off an subtle air of sophistication. The shophouses, including the Hoover Hotel and Hoover Restaurant were built in 1950s, and are the remnants of this once popular architecture style.

An interesting footnote, the restaurant and the hotel are namesakes of the old Hoover Theatre that stood where Shaw Plaza is today. In fact, the Hoover Theatre was the second theatre to be opened in Balestier, opening in 1960, after the Ruby Theatre which opened in 1958! Today, there remains a Hoover Theatre situated inside Shaw Plaza, as a tribute to the old theatre.

- Orson

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