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By: Nessa Anwar
InstaScram marks 24 engaging episodes of local travel by rounding it off with a truly exclusive look at two of the most unique places in Singapore. We may lack in many things when it comes to places to discover, but there is no shortage of urban exploration.
We first ride to Parkview Square, a design collaboration between US firm James Adams Design, and DP Architects of Singapore.The philosophy behind the building is still shrouded in mystery. Some say it used to be a hotel, others claim it was built by the Freemasons. In actual fact, this was the last major project headed by the late Mr C. S. Hwang, who passed away in 2004, a Taiwanese tycoon of the Chyau Fwu Group.
Since its construction, the 24-story Parkview Square remains one of the most expensive office buildings to rent in Singapore. It recently underwent a renovation to be more eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable. Post-renovation, the structure’s exterior remains stunning, with its trademark glossy bronze finish and Art-Deco style. Some Singaporeans have even unofficially dubbed it as the “Gotham Square” of Singapore due to its striking resemblance to the fictional Gotham City in the Batman franchise.
Before the renovation a few years ago, the plaza was dotted with bronze statues of some of the most famous figures in world history, including Salvador Dali, Chopin, Isaac Newton, Dante and even Sun Yat-sen. Now, the architects have opted for a more spacious feel, with sculptures that are minimal, but equally fascinating. Especially the gargoyles guarding the entrance, and the signature auspicious crane sculpture that seemingly points to the direction of China, Mr Hwang’s homeland.
The interior reveals even more of the classic Art-Deco style it is heavily influenced by, especially the 1929 Chanin Building in New York City. It is clad in brown granite, bronze, lacquer and glass, and features a 15-metre high, ornate ceiling in its lobby, which is truly a sight to behold. It brings to mind scenes from The Great Gatsby, and it is very hard to reconcile with the fact that this remarkable, one-of-a-kind building is less than two decades old.
The bar located at the centre of the lobby used to be called Divine Bar, famous for its flying bartenders who dress as fairies and ‘fly’ up to fetch your wine from a beautiful, high-mounted wine rack. After the renovation in 2017, it serves as an all-day cafe and bar, called Atlas Bar. The Parkview Museum was also unveiled early this year, spread over 15,000 square feet of column-free space on the third level of the building, and is open to the public.
From this grand, opulent building on North Bridge Road, we ride to a different kind of classic just down the road. Our next location is Golden Mile Tower, to The Projector.
The Projector on Level 5 guards a true Singaporean legacy, namely part of the Golden Theatre. At one point of time, Golden Theatre was the biggest cinema in Singapore and Malaysia when it was built in 1973 by Chong Gay Theatres Limited. Since then, it has been an adult film house, a Chinese-centric movie theatre and even a Bollywood film house.
Pocket Projects, Luna Films and Golden Bar have teamed up to revive that nostalgic cinema-going experience by occupying two cinema halls and the fifth floor foyer as a venue for independent cinema. There is the Green Room, the main screening hall, which boasts a single screen with 230 retro style seats. They have also opted to keep the old seats for the multi-functional Redrum next door, but with the addition of comfy and quirky seating.
You can expect specially curated programmes that showcase all kinds of genres, from foreign to local, cult favourites to arthouse and even the classics.
In a digital, commercial environment that is ever-growing, The Projector serves up an alternative creative experience that caters to everyone who has a love for the big screen, and making retro spaces relevant to our community with a certain panache. Their feat is no ordinary one, being partially crowdfunded on Indiegogo, successfully raising $50,000 from public donors. You can book tickets online, and true to the heyday of cinema-going, you should come early to ‘chope’ your favourite seats, as it is free seating.
And films are not the only draw at The Projector. You can grab some grub along with a beer at the concession stand. Or you can choose to take your drinks out on the rooftop carpark, where the cafe bar Golden X Great Escape is located. The only unfortunate thing is that motorbikes are not permitted in the carpark, but the good vibes of the venue certainly does make up for it.
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