TwentyFifteen 18/20: Common Wealth by Nicky Loh


For the past eight years, my family and I have lived at Commonwealth Drive. The first home I ever owned was a small but cosy three-room flat on the seventh floor of block 79. But I’m just a ‘baby’ in the neighbourhood compared to some of my neighbours, who have lived in Commonwealth Drive for most of their lives. This cluster of ten-storey flats – more popularly known as Zhup Lao (“ten floors” in Teochew or Hokkien) – was one of the first satellite towns built in 1962 by the Housing Development Board (HDB), and I’ve heard a wealth of stories about the area from my neighbours and local shop owners.

Last year, HDB announced that these flats would be redeveloped under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS). It’s sad to think that with the demolition of these blocks, all these old and long-lasting ties will be uprooted and lost forever. I love how this neighbourhood oozes old-world charm with its provision shops, barbers and traditional medicine halls. I’m trying to document as much as I can before it all vanishes.

Many of these things also remind me of my grandmother, who brought me up. I’d like to think that I’m honouring her by being nostalgic in this series of photographs.

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