South Beach chic for former NCO club

South Beach chic for former NCO club
The old Beach Road Camp has been revamped and turned into a mixed-use development. The glass box is the entrance to The Grand Ballroom (left), formerly Block 9.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Singaporean men of a certain generation would be familiar with the cluster of military buildings known as Beach Road Camp.

From 1967, new recruits had to enlist for duty there, and the practice eventually spawned the saying: "First to Beach Road, then to army".

While some of buildings on site have long been torn down, three pre-war buildings, Blocks 1, 9 and 14, still stand.

They have been revamped as part of the South Beach, a 3.5ha mixed-use property that includes residences, a hotel and offices and restaurants and cost $3.5 billion to build.

South Beach has four heritage buildings. Three are from the former Beach Road Camp, and the last is the former Non-Commissioned Officers' (NCO) Club.

The South Beach, a new 654- room five-star hotel, is designed by famous French designer Philippe Starck.

Starck has also been hired to give the gazetted buildings a new lease of life by jazzing up the interiors. Meanwhile, architectural restoration and research consultancy Studio Lapis was in charge of restoring key elements of the buildings' architecture.

For example, Block 9, once the headquarters of the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, is now known as The Grand Ballroom, an event space open for hire. It features a stunning light installation by Starck, comprising thousands of lights strung from the ceiling like stalactites.

At the former NCO Club, there is an "underwater" restaurant where diners can look at swimmers in a 3.8m-deep pool situated next to the eatery.

Bounded by Beach Road, Bras Basah Road, Nicoll Highway and Middle Road, South Beach is a joint venture between City Developments Limited and IOI Group.

Life provides a sneak peek of the restoration work done to the buildings and their new design features, and takes you on a tour of the swanky new hotel.

Photo: South Beach

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