Monday, January 28, 2013

For rent: Bungalow that's century-old


Black-and-white home designed by architect of Raffles Hotel to be leased out for residential use

The Sunday Times
January 27, 2013

After years of being left vacant, a colonial bungalow designed by the same architect behind the Raffles Hotel will soon be put up for rent.

The property near the Singapore Botanic Gardens had once housed the French Embassy but it was left unused after the embassy moved to its current location in Cluny Park Road in 1999.

Perched atop a hill at 5, Gallop Road, the bungalow has been slated for residential use, with an allowable tenure until 2021.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is finalising plans for refurbishing it.

Once that is done in about two months, it will be put up for public tender, said an SLA spokesman.

The property sits on some 14,442 sq m of land, or about the size of about 31/2 football fields.

Renting it, however, won't come cheap.

A recently closed bid for a black-and-white bungalow in Ridley Park Road, that is about one-fifth the land area, was secured with a bid of $20,250 a month.

The SLA manages about 500 black-and-white bungalows, which are mainly for residential use.

Built in 1898, the Gallop Road property is one of Singapore's oldest black-and-white bungalows featuring the mock Tudor style - walls made of interwoven twigs plastered with clay or mud - seen in many of the colonial bungalows built in the 1920s and 1930s.

At the time it was conceived by its architect, Regent Alfred John Bidwell, its L-shaped design had been considered unconventional.

Over the years, the property changed hands from its first owner, lawyer John Burkinshaw - who set up one of Singapore's oldest law firms - to the Straits Trading Company, which eventually leased it to the French government.

It was during this period that Mr S. P. Chandrashagaran was born in the compound of the house.

His father had been working for the French government as a caretaker of the building, when Mr Chandrashagaran was born in 1939.

Among his 11 siblings, he was the only one born on the property.

"I was the only one born there, I don't know why. I only know I was born there because it says so in my birth certificate," he quipped.

He stayed on as the caretaker of the place when his father retired, said Mr Chandrashagaran, and often stayed at the compound right up until the embassy moved to its new premises.

Now 74, he recalled his days at the compound as carefree and fun.

He said: "There were a lot of places for us to play; we ran around. I have good memories of the building. I'm glad that they are preserving it."

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