Golden Mile Complex

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The rear view of Golden Mile Complex.

Golden Mile Complex, formerly known as Woh Hup complex, was opened in 1973 and built as part of the Singapore government’s urban renewal scheme. The complex cost a total of SGD$18 million to build.[1] “Golden Mile” refers to the strip of land between Nicoll Highway and Beach Road. Golden Mile Complex is notable for being one of Singapore’s first mixed-use developments, with the complex being made up of shops, offices and residences. In 2019, Golden Mile Complex has been slated for en bloc sales and redevelopment purposes.


Architecture[edit | edit source]

The stepped terrace structure of Golden Mile Complex. The open-air swimming pool is pictured on the extreme right side of Golden Mile Complex.

Golden Mile Complex was designed by DP Architects, Gan Eng Oon, William Lim and Tay Kheng Soon.[2] The complex followed a Brutalist style - a concept in architectural design that produced harsh, block-like buildings.The Brutalist style was popular from the 1950s to 1970s. Rising to a total of 16 stories, the first to ninth floors of the Golden Mile Complex had been allocated to commercial and business use. These floors have been occupied by a variety of vendors, ranging from Thai supermarkets and amulet stores to creative practices.


There are a total of 68 apartments that make up the tenth to sixteenth floors of Golden Mile Complex. The balconies of these apartments form the stepped-terrace design, ensuring that the tenants will have an uninterrupted view of the scenery from their balcony.[3] From the balcony, tenants are able to have an unrestricted view of the coastline of Kallang Basin. Golden Mile Complex once had a functioning swimming pool for the residents, complete with barbeque pits built on the fifth level. The swimming pool was closed and emptied in 2003. Golden Mile Complex was included as a tour venue in the Singapore Architectural festival in 2007.[4] The architecture of Golden Mile Complex has been recognised and praised by the international community. The design of the building was validated by famous Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, and Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate, Fumihiko Maki, for the unique layout and interesting design.[5]


Thai cultural hotspot[edit | edit source]

A storefront in Golden Mile Complex advertising in Thai. Photo from The Smart Local.
The collapsed Nicoll Highway in 2004. Photo credit to ST Photo.

Golden Mile Complex has a distinct Thai culture, and has been recognised in popular culture as “Little Thailand”. The name came about due to the large amount of That people, especially Thai construction workers, who visit the complex during the weekend. There are also a large number of shops selling Thai products, such as Thai restaurants, massage parlours and even a supermarket selling Thai products. A Thai buddhist temple, Phra Phrom Temple, is located right outside the complex.[6]


Golden Mile Complex also celebrates the Songkran festival, which is a traditional Thai festival. During the annual Songkran festival in April, residents, shop-owners and customers splash water and engage in water-gun fights with one another on the ground floor of the mall.

Dwindling popularity[edit | edit source]

Poor maintenance[edit | edit source]

However, Golden Mile Complex dwindled in popularity over the years. As the complex adopts a strata title structure, tenants only contribute a small sum to maintenance works. The limited amount of funds available results in limited and poor maintenance works being done.[7] The lack of proper and frequent maintenance over the years had caused the condition of the complex to deteriorate rapidly. Problems such as water leakage and the unsanitary toilets have also led to much unhappiness among the residents and store owners.[8]


On 20 April 2004, Nicoll Highway collapsed.[9] Golden Mile Complex which was nearby faced a blackout and the building received slight tremors from the incident. The occupants were evacuated for a few hours until the building was confirmed to be structurally stable and safe to reside in. On 20 December 2015, a fire broke out in the complex.[10] The fire was suspected to have started from discarded items left at the staircase landing. The shop owners and customers at the mall area were evacuated to safety and fortunately no one was harmed in the incident.

In 2006,  Nominated Member of Parliament Ivan Png called the complex a “vertical slum” and a national disgrace”.[11] Mr. Png cited the messy and disordered facade of the complex as a reason for the unflattering description. In an effort to repair their balconies, the residents had placed corrugated metal and patch boards themselves.

Violence and crime[edit | edit source]

Over the years, Singapore's construction workforce began to take in more workers from Bangladesh and India than Thailand. The depleting number of Thai foreign workers reduced the customer size for Golden Mile Complex. Furthermore, the opening of discos serving alcoholic beverages in the complex had created a sleazier and more dangerous night scene. In recent years, acts of violence had been frequently reported in the complex. On 11 October 2017, a man was severely assaulted and had to be hospitalised. The perpetrator had since been arrested and is undergoing trial to decide on his punishment.[12] On 7 November 2017, another fight took place outside the complex between 2 Golden Mile Complex employees.[13]


Despite negative perceptions of the building, there are individuals who still appreciate its unique architecture heritage. A 2017 YouTube video by Techno Gadgets titled “Secrets of Golden Mile” (YouTube video) presented a nostalgic perspective of the complex, where residents and tenants of the complex were interviewed. In 2018, CNA Insider also released a video (YouTube video) documenting the many interiors of the complex - ranging from a resident's home to a creative office space.[14]

2018 en bloc sale[edit | edit source]

The high ceiling-ed void deck area of Golden Mile Complex where residents can play street football. Photo from The Smart Local.
View from a resident's balcony. Photo credit to Nuria Ling (TODAY).

The past 2 collective sale attempts for Golden Mile Complex had failed before succeeding on 3rd August 2018. It was initially difficult to convince the owners to agree to the collective sale due to its mixed use development.


As the complex is made up of housing, offices and shops, the different interests of each party made it difficult to come to a consensus. The sale was motivated by the complex’s lack of popularity, poor maintenance and the high value of the estate.[15] In merely 8 days from the proposed 2018 sale, an estimated 724 owners of 550 units signed the collective sale agreement. As these numbers formed 80.83% of the total share value of the development which met the 80% quota, the en bloc sale was approved.


Despite the complex still having 49 years left till the end of their lease, the en bloc sale was launched at a reserve price of SGD$800 million.[16] On 9 January 2019, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) added a condition for the current en bloc sale to be a integrated project where the existing main building must be conserved in their redevelopment efforts. However, if the en bloc sale is unsuccessful, the condition may be removed during the next sale. The complex may be demolished unless the government introduces an official rule for the complex to be conserved.[17]


If the en bloc sale is successful, the 68 residential unit owners will get a total of around SGD$1.27 million to SGD$6 million worth of compensation each, the 418 shop unit owners may get between SGD$200,000 to SGD$7 million each and the office unit owners may get between SGD$360,000 to SGD$3 million each.

Responses[edit | edit source]

The en bloc sale sparked responses from different groups of individuals. After the successful agreement to the en bloc sale, several Singapore architects and heritage specialists held a petition in an attempt to conserve the complex.[18] Dr. Imran bin Tajudeen, NUS Assistant Professor in NUS School of Design and Environment, and Ho Puay Peng and Yee Chin Teo, founder of Red Bean Architects and editor of The Singapore Architect, were among those who started the petition.


There are some who are willing to put aside their fond memories of Golden Mile Complex to sign the en bloc sale. In an interview with Straits Times, Mr Ponno Kalastree, a tenant who has been living in the complex since his childhood days, expressed that his decision to sign the en bloc agreement was motivated by the poor maintenance of the building.[19] Another tenant, Mr Ande Lai, who was among the minority who did not sign the en bloc agreement, eventually joined the collective sale committee in hopes of making the sale a success.


Citations / References[edit | edit source]

  1. Boon Hun. “8 facts about Golden Mile Complex, the iconic building that might be gone soon.” goodyfeed. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://goodyfeed.com/9-facts-about-golden-mile-complex-the-iconic-building-that-might-be-gone-soon/
  2. Boon Hun. “8 facts about Golden Mile Complex, the iconic building that might be gone soon.” goodyfeed. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://goodyfeed.com/9-facts-about-golden-mile-complex-the-iconic-building-that-might-be-gone-soon/
  3. Ng, Desmond. Tiah, Corine. Lam, Shushan. “From the occult to a derelict pool; 12 things about Golden Mile Complex you didn’t know”. Channelnewsasia. September 30, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/golden-mile-complex-occult-pool-conservation-brutalist-10772498
  4. The Must Share News Team. “6 things to know about Golden Mile Complex, the latest en-bloc victim.” mustsharenews. August 11, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://mustsharenews.com/golden-mile-complex/
  5. Sandran, Aravin. “ Has Singapore's built heritage been forsaken for profits?” buro247. August 27, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.buro247.sg/culture/art-and-design/has-singapore-built-heritage-been-forsaken-for-profits.html
  6. Ng, Elisabeth. “12 reasons little Thailand in Singapore is the place to be when you’re tired of mainstream malls”. Thesmartlocal. April 13, 2016. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://thesmartlocal.com/read/little-thailand
  7. Zaccheus, Melody. "Farewell Golden Mile Complex?". The Straits Times. September 22, 2018. Accessed on 26 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/farewell-golden-mile-complex-residents-open-up-about-their-love-hate-relationship-with-the
  8. Zaccheus, Melody. "Farewell Golden Mile Complex?". The Straits Times. September 22, 2018. Accessed on 26 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/farewell-golden-mile-complex-residents-open-up-about-their-love-hate-relationship-with-the
  9. Darishini Thiyagarajan. ‘See snapshots of tragedy in exhibition of ST photos’. Asiaone. May 9, 2014. Accessed on 26 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/see-snapshots-tragedy-exhibition-st-photos
  10. Kumar, Chitra. “ Fire breaks out at Golden Mile Complex, no one hurt”. thestraitstimes. December 20, 2015. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fire-breaks-out-at-golden-mile-complex-no-one-hurt
  11. Coconuts Singapore. "FROM ACCLAIM TO SLEAZE TO SALE: ICONIC GOLDEN MILE COMPLEX TO GO EN BLOC". Coconuts Singapore. August 13, 2018. Accessed on 26 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://coconuts.co/singapore/news/acclaim-sleaze-sale-iconic-golden-mile-complex-go-en-bloc/
  12. Chua, Alfred. “Suspect in Golden Mile Complex assault charged in court with causing grievous hurt”. Todayonline. Updated October 16, 2017. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/suspect-golden-mile-complex-assault-charged-court-causing-grievous-hurt
  13. Stolarchuk, Jewel. “Another violent fight breaks out near Golden Mile Complex”. theindependent. November 9, 2017. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: http://theindependent.sg/another-violent-fight-breaks-out-near-golden-mile-complex/
  14. Ng, Desmond, Corine Tiah and Lam Shushan. "From the occult to a derelict pool: 12 things about Golden Mile Complex you didn't know". Channel News Asia. September 30, 2018. Accessed on 26 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/golden-mile-complex-occult-pool-conservation-brutalist-10772498
  15. Coconuts Singapore. “From acclaim to sleaze to sale: iconic Golden Mile Complex to go en bloc.” coconuts. August 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://coconuts.co/singapore/news/acclaim-sleaze-sale-iconic-golden-mile-complex-go-en-bloc/
  16. “Golden Mile Complex may be conserved even as en bloc tender is launched”. Channelnewsasia. Updated October 31, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/golden-mile-complex-may-be-conserved-en-bloc-tender-ura-10882580
  17. Leong, Grace. “Developers get more clarity on Golden Mile en bloc site”. The Straits Times. January 9, 2019. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/business/developers-get-more-clarity-on-golden-mile-en-bloc-site
  18. “Singaporean Architects Start Petition to Conserve Golden Mile & People’s Park Complex”. Ricemedia. August 20, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: http://ricemedia.co/current-affairs-architects-petition-save-golden-mile-complex-peoples-park-complex/
  19. Zaccheus, Melody. “Farewell Golden Mile Complex? Residents open up about their love-hate relationship with the landmark”. Thestraitstimes. September 22, 2018. Accessed on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/farewell-golden-mile-complex-residents-open-up-about-their-love-hate-relationship-with-the