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.

Amber Mansions was designed by architecture firm Swan & Maclaren and built between 1922 and 1928. 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. Amber Mansions was considered an elite place to shop with many uptown socialites gathering there during its hey-days. One of Singapore's first shopping centres, it had some of the most expensive boutiques of Singapore offering the latest fashion.

Compared to contemporary shopping centres, Amber Mansions was diminutive, standing no taller than three storeys. However, it was one of the best-designed post-World War I buildings in Singapore. The wide-arched gallery windows were in a typically colonial style. Its front facade followed the curve of Penang Lane. A series of shops faced 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. The municipal Gas Department was housed on the ground level of the Amber Mansions. During a heavy downpour, Orchard Road was often flooded and rainwater could reach knee-deep outside Amber Mansions.

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.

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

Nathan, E. (1986). The history of Jews in Singapore, 1830-1945 (pp. 8-9, 77-78). Singapore: HERBILU Editorial & Marketing Services.
(Call no.: SING 301.45192405957 NAT)

Tyers, R. (1993). Singapore: Then & now (p. 158). Singapore: Landmark Books
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)

Chen, A. (1990, April 01). Our lost treasures. The Straits Times, p. 1.

Elias, L. (2014, February 28 to March 3). Personal email correspondence with Linda Elias, great-niece of Joseph Aaron Elias, regarding spelling of her great grandmother's name, Sarina, and the family's clan name, Amber.

Eu, G. (2002, January 19). Fostering the cultured English charm. The Business Times, p. 1.

City Developments Limited. (2001). About CDL. Retrieved January 28, 2004, from

TTG Asia Media Pte Ltd. (2002). Reflections of Orchard Road. Retrieved March 16, 2004, from

The information in this article is valid as at 2002 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.

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

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