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Completion of Beverly Mai, Singapore’s first condominium 1974

Completed in 1974, Beverly Mai is commonly known as Singapore’s first condominium.[1] Built at the cost of S$4 million, the 28-storey tower at Tomlinson Road had a site area of 7,230 sq m and was designed by Timothy Seow & Partners (now known as ids studio).[2] It is one of the earliest high-rise luxury apartments in Singapore and was developed along Seow’s pioneering concept of “bungalows in the-air”. The condominium is the first private residential project to incorporate maisonettes in apartment blocks and apartment units without party walls. It is also among the first to introduce the practice of shared facilities such as the swimming pool and other recreational amenities – features commonly found in condominiums today.[3]

The urban landscape of Singapore in the 1960s was dominated by slab block public housing for the masses and landed dwellings for the affluent. Seow saw a demand for upmarket apartments, which would provide the space and privacy of a bungalow in land scarce Singapore without the prohibitive prices of landed property. He tested his “bungalows in the-air” concept on Maxima Apartments (now known as The Belmont), the precursor of Beverly Mai. The tower block, developed on his parents’ property, had only one unit on each floor that was served by two lifts and a common swimming pool. Henry Kwee, the founder of Pontiac Land,  was impressed with Seow’s concept and appointed him as the architect of Beverly Mai.[4]

Several of Seow’s early condominium projects such as Beverly Mai and Futura were inspired by English architect Denys Lasdun’s Keeling House maisonettes at Bethnal Green, East London, England. Beverly Mai had 48 maisonettes – four units on each floor – two deluxe apartments and two penthouses that were joined by a central service core and served by two lifts – a private lift for residents and a back lift for visitors.  To maximise privacy, each unit was designed with split levels to segregate the private bedroom spaces on the second floor from the living and dining rooms below. Each unit also had a large balcony that functioned as a garden in the sky. Another key architectural feature of Beverly Mai was its “floating” entrance lobby, which separated the driveway for vehicles and pedestrians. The project also introduced shared recreational facilities such as a swimming pool, barbecue pits and terraces.[5]

The condominium, which cost between S$141,000 and $162,000 an apartment in 1970, was sold through a collective sale to Hotel Properties Ltd for S$238 million in 2006.[6] The threat of collective sales and the demolition of Beverly Mai and other early modern architecture built by local architects in post-war Singapore prompted the call to preserve Singapore’s built heritage.[7]

References
1. Au Yong, J. (2006, September 24). Is S’pore’s first condo worth preserving? The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Wong, Y. C. (2005). Singapore 1:1 city: A gallery of architecture & urban design (pp. 110–113). Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority. Call no.: RSING 720.95957 WON; ids studio. (2013). Beverly Mai. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from ids studio website: http://www.intl-ds.com/projects/high-rise-residential/beverly-mai/; Naidu, D. (2007, December/January). An interview with Timothy Seow. The Singapore Architect, 236, 42–49. Call no.: RSING 720.5 SA
3. Wong, 2005, pp. 110–113.
4. Naidu, 2007, 42–49; Ong, C. (1998, July 11). Back where he belongs. The Business Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Lee, E. (2008). Singapore: The unexpected nation (p. 333). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Call no.: RSING 959.57 LEE-[HIS].
5. Wong, 2005, pp. 110–113; Naidu, 2007, 42–49; The Business Times, 11 Jul 1998, p. 20; Campbell, W. (1970, June 19). Highrise goes high class. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. The Straits Times, 19 Jun 1970, p. 8; Kalpana, R. (2006, April 27). HPL bags Beverly Mai for $238m. The Business Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. The Straits Times, 24 Sep 2006, p. 8.

 

The information in this article is valid as at 2014 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.

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