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Curtains on Peace Centre

Peace Centre and Peace Mansion at 1 Sophia Road recently made the news, because the multi-use complex was sold to a group of companies for $650 million - meaning it is on borrowed time.

The group comprises Chip Eng Seng, Sing-Haiyi Crystal, and Ultra Infinity. Earlier in May, the first two companies had also partnered with another company to purchase Maxwell House for $276.8 million.


This was Peace Centre and Mansion’s sixth attempt at a collective sale.


Peace Centre and Mansion were built sometime between 1972 and 1975, appearing in the 1975 street directory (below).

The 1970s saw the rise of multi-use complexes in the City, multi-storey buildings combining shops, offices, flats, and a carpark all in one high-rise building. Other multi-use complexes that came up during that period included Golden Mile Complex, People’s Park Complex, and Rochor Centre.


Peace Centre is a 10-storey front podium block with 232 commercial units, while Peace Mansion is the rear 32-storey tower block, with 86 apartments.


This is a view of Peace Centre and Mansion from Cathay Building in 1976. The complex is on the left.

Credit: Ministry of Information and the Arts Collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

Initially, Peace Centre and Mansion were the only complex along the stretch of Selegie Road between Prinsep Street and Sophia Road. It was subsequently joined by Parklane Shopping Mall and Paradiz Centre. At the end of Selegie Road, the Sikh temple known as Dharmak Diwan stood until it was demolished between 1993 and 1995.


Below is a map of the area in 1991.

Peace Centre and Mansion from the front, in 1993. Shophouses that stood opposite Selegie Road were in the process of being demolished; all that is left today is an open field.

Credit: Courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

As for Paradiz Centre, it was revamped into PoMo around 2009, and again into ​​GR.iD earlier this year.


***


I visited Peace Centre to take in the sights before the tenants move out, perhaps next year.


The facade had been upgraded since the previous photo was taken in 1993.


COVID-19 had murdered its nightlife industry, but colourful signs of sin remained.

Old-school tiles for the ground floor, replete with photocopying and print shops.


Single-file escalators, common in other old shopping centres.

The quadrangle as seen from the second floor, with exposed pillars.

Many units were empty. The shopping centre had seen better days.

Worn-out, utilitarian lifts.

There was a staircase to one side. It reminded me of the staircases of old libraries from my childhood...

On the escalator up to the third floor.

The third floor.



It was a weekday, so traffic in the mall was slow. The upper floors were almost deserted.

The side passages were narrow, with low ceilings.

The walkways connecting the front portion of Peace Centre to its back portion, as seen from Sophia Road. The road running below the walkways is Kirk Terrace. The lobby of Peace Mansion is further up Kirk Terrace, to the right. I did not approach the lobby because I did not want to attract the attention of its security.

Peace Mansion, as seen from ground level along Sophia Road.

Thanks to Google Maps, we have a view of Peace Centre and Mansion from above - there are tennis courts and a playground on the roof of the former for the residents of the latter.

Credit: Google Maps.

A visit to Peace Centre is not complete without buying a snack from “Singapore’s last kacang puteh seller”, 54-year-old Amirthaalangaram Moorthy. He’ll have to find a new roost once the shopping centre goes.


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