Sunday, March 13, 2016

Accidental Tourist of Singapore - Walk - 2016 - March - Dakota Walkorganised for Singaplural 2016

I went on an engaging SingaPlural 2016 Walking Tour around Dakota that was organised by the folks from Singapore Furniture Industries Council which was part of the activities for SingaPlural 2016 (

We were accompanied by residents (past and present) during the trail that is organized by Dakota Adventures, a service provider engaged by SFIC ). Jonathan who is also part of the SaveDakotaCrescent FB campaign also joined us. 

It was a wonderful time spent with the guides who shared with us their knowledge regarding the unique blocks in this area and I personally particularly enjoyed hearing the stories of the elderly folks who have been staying here for all their lives especially from Bilyy Koh who not only shared his stories of staying in Dakota but also allowed us into his abode after the tour. 

Some interesting facts/ stories shared during the walk: 

  • Part of Kallang bigger estate stretching up to Guillemard Road 
  • 4 types of blocks found in Dakota estate i.e. (1) butterfly block - one of a kind block that is not found anywhere in Singapore. You can see the unique shape in the photo of the maps shown. To ensure privacy for the end unit with adequate ventilation in the tropical heat. The middle area is always an open courtyard area for community gathering and social interaction. (2) 8 storey blocks - original blocks no. 10 and 20 with the kitchen near the walking corridor - idea likely imported from British and Blk 28 being the only block with a common refuse chute (instead of the refuse chute inside the house) and 3 storey blocks and 2 storey blocks 
  • Designs of the blocks are intended to help residents to identify their houses with the old folks recalling their inability to go home as all the blocks look too similar to them (back then, there were no block numbers) with reported deafness due to old airport located close to the residences
  • Unique feature of the area is that there is no void deck at the bottom of the block with various shapes like those of butterfly (not modular cookie-cutter designs of current flats) with many flats differing in height and shapes standing next to each other 
  • Former namesake of the Hyde park of Singapore that was situated next to old airport
  • Dakota was also the holiday zone back during British times with palm trees still lining the streets and named after the logistics airplane, Dakota DC-3 that used to land in old Kallang Airport nearby
  • Previously one of the largest estate built by Singapore Improvement Trust back in 1958 (predecessor of our current Housing and Development Board) with some 20 blocks (now 17 are left) 
  • Back when the old airport was still functioning, residents were woken up in the morning not by alarm clocks but by the sound of the Concorde plane landing at 6:30 am with the accompaniment of walls shaking and cups/ plates rattling
  • There is only 1 Lift repairer in Singapore who is able to repair the remaining lifts in Dakota - he will retire once the last of the residents move out end of the 2016 
  • Showcased Singapore's progress from slumps to 1st Pioneer HDB flat with its residents having been at least displaced twice due to the modernization of Singapore with many having first moved here after the fires in their previous abode in slums. This intention to move out the Dakota residents marks their 2nd exodus. 
  • Mountbatten Pink comes from a story when Admiral Mountbatten who observed that the sunset color along the shores around the area and thought that ships will not be spotted if they were painted pink. ore info available via Wikipedia. Incidentally, Admiral Mountbatten had accepted the Japanese surrender after WWII - more info here 
P.S. With the upcoming uncertainty behind the fate of this lovely quaint estate, there is a social movement to lend a voice to everyone who wants this unique location to be preserved for future generations so head down to Dakota and join the SaveDakotaCrescent FB campaign. More about this is reported here 

Till the next time, keep exploring! 

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