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Alexandra Road No. 332 (Princess House)

History
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ABOUT

Princess House was built as part of Queenstown, the first satellite town, in the mid-1950s by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT). It is sited near the junction of Alexandra Road and Leng Kee Road within Princess Estate which was the first of five neighbourhoods to be built at Queenstown.

THE HISTORY

Princess Estate, completed in 1957, was designed to accommodate 18,000 people and comprised several housing blocks of different heights containing two and three-room flats, shops, schools, a cinema, religious sites and utilities. Originally intended to be a multi-purpose building for office and community facilities to serve Singapore’s first planned new town, Princess House was eventually designated as the new office of the SIT. After Singapore gained self-governance, the Housing Development Board (HDB) was established and Princess House subsequently became the first dedicated HDB headquarters in 1960.

As the first HDB headquarters, Princess House is historically and socially significant, having played an important role in shaping the post-war development of Singapore. It was here where renewal plans were drawn up and displayed, awards given to community groups and, notably, the place where Singaporeans applied for their first HDB flats.

Various foreign dignitaries such as Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; Edward Heath, then Prime Minister of Australia; as well as ministerial delegations from Denmark, West Germany, New Zealand, Austria and India visited Princess House to learn about Singapore’s housing programme which was internationally recognized as a success.

THE BUILDING

Built largely in reinforced concrete with its internal framework boldly expressed, the overall form of Princess House follows the aesthetics of 1950s Modern architecture. It is simple in design, economical in the use of materials and decoration, and adheres to the “form follows function” dictum in the articulation of the building elements. The building is topped by an innovative shallow ‘U’-shaped flat roof which was also used as a viewing deck.

THE LEGACY

As the surrounding blocks of flats in the original Princess Estate are developed, the conservation of Princess House will serve not only as a tribute to the beginnings of Singapore’s public housing programme, but also as a lasting reminder of Queenstown’s history.

Gazetted on 20 Sep 2007 for conservation

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