Singapore’s Katong Neigbourhood: Design as a Cultural Story

By June 20, 2017 No Comments

Photo Credit: Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong

Behind every intricate design nuance lies a colourful story. So it is in the Katong neighbourhood – home to coconut plantations long before they developed into thriving residential suburbs in the early 20th century. The neighbourhood that is home to Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, has largely preserved its local identity and personality, as attested by the low-rise conservation area zoning around the hotel.

To ensure the neighbourhood’s vibrant legacy was incorporated into the hotel’s overall design, the foremost architectural challenge was to weave in sustainability, open spaces and shade, which took the shape of metal ‘fins’ placed on the building’s exterior. Crafted into an intricate pattern, these fins recall the traditional screens used for old Peranakan shophouses, designed to provide decoration as well as practicality – to protect guests from the heat of the sun.

Old Versus New

Another uphill task faced by architects from top Singapore firm, Ong & Ong, was the challenge of integrating a new multi-storey building with an older one, the former Joo Chiat Police Station. While the old police station was a rich and fascinating source of stories about secret societies, hushed deeds and non-stop action, today it is home to the Peranakan inspired Baba Chews Bar and Eatery.

Activity Zoning of Peranakan Houses

Move deeper into Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong and you’ll discover that the interior aesthetic of each guestroom reflects the traditional activity zoning layout that guided most Peranakan homes of the past. From front to back, embark on a spatial journey that traces exterior communal spaces, such as living areas, to more individualistic private spaces like the bedroom and bathroom areas.

A nod to its multi-cultural lineage, furniture design is invariably mixed. Say hello to sofas inspired by rattan furniture, rugs that reflect a riot of colours weaved with intricate batik prints and patchwork, a carom board that serves as a coffee tabletop, or even custom-made bathtubs with dragon motifs found on traditional clay jars.

Did You Know?

That the existing cells of the old Joo Chiat police station used to house the notorious Joo Chiat gang? They are now rebirthed in a wash of earthy tones and colourful Peranakan furniture – testament to its locally-inspired heritage.