Inside Singapore's vanished public housing estates

Past lives

Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Koh Kim Chay

An upcoming book by Do Not Design, Koh Kim Chay and Eugene Ong features photographs of Singapore's housing landscape from the 1950s

For over two decades, photographer Koh Kim Chay went around Singapore documenting what was about to be destroyed or abandoned. Armed with a film camera and a darkroom as his safe space, Koh gathered together photographs of 27 public housing estates and precincts that once housed communities, families, and lives that Singapore has grown out of. Apart from homes built by the Housing Development Board, he also snapped flats constructed by the Singapore Improvement Trust and the Jurong Town Corporation in an exercise of architectural heritage.

Launching in May this year, the book also features inserts of postcards, maps, eviction notices and other snippets of past lives. Estates featured include the likes of Princess Elizabeth Park Estate (formed in 1951 partially from donations made to the Princess Elizabeth wedding celebratory funds) as well as the highest public residence in the '50s.

Want to purchase a copy? Support the archiving of Singapore and help this book come to life with a contribution via Indiegogo.