Amber Mansions



Amber Mansions, located along the curve between Orchard Road and Penang Road, was built in the 1920s and was owned by Joseph Aaron Elias, a prominent Jewish businessman. It was one of Singapore’s first shopping centres. It was demolished in 1984 to make way for Dhoby Ghaut MRT station.

History
Amber Mansions was designed by architecture firm Swan & Maclaren and built between 1921 and 1928.1 Owned by Jewish businessman Joseph Elias, the building took on the family’s clan name Amber as did several of Elias’s properties as well as Amber Road in East Coast.2 Amber Mansions was considered an elite place to shop with many uptown socialites gathering there during its heydays.3 One of Singapore’s first shopping centres, it had some of the most expensive boutiques of Singapore offering the latest fashion.4


Description
Compared to contemporary shopping centres, Amber Mansions was diminutive, standing no taller than three storeys.5 However, architect Lee Kip Lin noted that it was one of the best-designed post-World War I buildings in Singapore.6 Its front facade followed the curve of Penang Lane with a series of shops facing the road. Suites of lawyers and architects were housed upstairs. Some of the building’s well-known tenants included the University Bookstore, Fosters Steakhouse and the construction house, City Developments Limited.7 The municipal Gas Department was housed on the ground level of the Amber Mansions.8 During a heavy downpour, Orchard Road was often flooded and rainwater could reach knee height outside Amber Mansions.9

Despite its popularity, Amber Mansions was pulled down in 1984 together with the Cycle & Carriage showroom and the Sri Sivan Temple, to make way for the construction of the new MRT station at Dhoby Ghaut. Cycle & Carriage moved to Leng Kee Road near Redhill estate, where car showrooms are concentrated in Singapore. Sri Sivan Temple is now located at Geylang East.10



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Chen, A. (1990, April 1). Our lost treasuresThe Straits Times, p. 1; Municipal Commission (1922, July 29) The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lee, K. L. (2015) The Singapore House, 1819–1942, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, National Library Board, p. 137. (Call no.: RSING 728.095957 LEE)
2. Nathan, E. (1986). The history of Jews in Singapore, 1830–1945. Singapore: HERBILU Editorial & Marketing Services, pp. 77–78. (Call no.: RSING 301.45192405957 NAT)
3. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 158. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Chen, A. (1990, April 1). Our lost treasuresThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 158. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
5. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 158. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
6. Chen, A. (1990, April 1). Our lost treasuresThe Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Chen, A. (1990, April 1). Our lost treasuresThe Straits Times, p. 1; Eu, G. (2002, January 19). Fostering the cultured English charmThe Business Times, p. 11; Chew, M. (1996, March 23) A rags-to-riches story. The Business Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Municipal Action (1928, July 21) The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 158. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
10. Tyers, R. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 158. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])



Further resources

Ortega, B., & Fong, V. (1984, February 19). Orchard Road: The Chameleon. Singapore Monitor, p. 43. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Singapore Minority Groups. (1986, August 10). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Commercial Buildings
Law and government>>National development>>Urban development
Urbanization--Singapore
Commercial buildings
Historic buildings--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings