Friday, May 26, 2017

Spooner Road HDB Flats

Upon riding at Kampong Bahru Road, I have passed by a pair of two HDB apartment buildings numerous times. Though they look like the typical 70s era HDB flats. The thing that caught my eye is the name on the blocks, "Melati" and "Kemuning" and the surrounding fencing.
Spooner Road flats as seen from Kampong Bahru Road
Since I had some free time, I decided to do some urban exploring and research. And I found quite a few interesting facts and articles on it.
Sponer Road street sign.
Spooner Road, the short minor lane that leads into the estate is named after Charles Edwin Spooner, a British engineer who later became General Manager of the Federated Malay States Railways in 1901. Upon research, the Running Bungalow, (located along Spooner Road before the flats) were built in the 1930s together with the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. I had assumed that Spooner Road was built during this time to to commemorate his passing in 1909.
The carpark of Spooner Road estate.
With a typical 70s era HDB design and format, the two apartment buildings with a total of 318 units of 1, 2 and 3 rooms, were built in the 1970s by the HDB for the Malaysian Railways, and are named after the flowers; "Kemuning" and "Melati" meaning "Orange jessamine" and "Jasmine" from Malay respectively. 
Block 1 "Kemuning", Spooner Road.
Despite being built by Singapore's HDB and had a typical design of that era, it was very much under Malaysian land and sovereignty. It had remained so until the land swap deal in 2011. 
Block 2 "Melati", Spooner Road.
The flats were formerly the quarters to house personnel of Jabatan Kastam Diraja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Customs Department) and Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) (Malayan Railways Limited) stationed in Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. It is currently used as rental apartments for the low-income.
The front facade of Block 2.
1st floor corridor of Block 1.
Unlike most of the HDB flats, which were subjected to periodical upgrading and addition of amenities such as lifts in every floors, playgrounds ect, these pair of flats seemed to be landlocked in time as they were in control of the Malaysian government and were not subjected to any kind of upgrading.
Lift lobby of Blk 1.
Lift Lobby of Blk 2
The mailboxes of Blk 1
Blk 2 ground corridor.
From the above photos, you can really see that the place is seemed to be stuck in the 80s. Due to the fact that these flats are under the jurisdiction of the Malaysian government, it has resisted the changes that other HDB flats go through over the years.
The view from the 7th floor from Block 2.
The former railway yard now overgrown with vegetation.
SIT Flats of Kg Bahru Road can be seen across from blk 1
When the site was handed over to Singapore on 1 July 2011, the area became the responsibility of the Singapore Land Authority. For a while, the flats were left vacant, and in December 2012, the flats were handed over to HDB for rental with the Public Rental Scheme for lower income families and Interim Rental Housing for families facing a transition in their housing arrangement.
Blk 1 Lift Lobby at level 7
The lifts stopped on the floors 1, 4 and 7.
The unkept staircase gives off a 70s feel to the place.
The level 7 common corridor of Blk 2
The level 7 common corridor of Blk 1

The carpark viewed from level 7 of Blk 2
Blk 2 as viewed from Blk 1.
Rear of Blk 2
As with HDB flats built during that era, the apartments on the first floor feature poles for drying of laundry. Most flats built after that era feature a void deck for communal activities and gatherings
An abandoned building next to Blk 2 
The above abandoned building may have served as the control station of the former train yard of the KTM. The building has since been closed off and abandoned.
MSF Social Welfare office at Blk 2.
Looking around, there really isn't much amenities, shops, food stalls or even a supermarket. One has to walk a distance to the nearest shopping area at Jalan Bukit Merah.  
The estate management office.
As a HDB rental estate, it mostly caters to low income and less well off families. There is a Ministry of Social and Family Development Social Service Office at the ground floor of Blk 2. Managed by CPG Corporation Pte. Ltd, it has an office in Blk 1, unique to this estate. There is also a security office next to the Management Office.
Cats are also the many residents that roam around the estate.
The Spooner Road flats are currently being tenanted out to HDB from the SLA for a period of 10 years till 2021. Till then, we may not know the fate of these historic flats.

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